Curious George asks How is a book selected for the library shelf?

Story of a Book
How is a book selected for the library shelf?

How is a book selected for the library shelf?

Ideas for books to place in your Library come from many sources. The most obvious is that you and other patrons request or recommend a book. Also, the staff makes recommendations on what materials they think are needed based on their role in your Library. The national best seller lists give us ideas, and we also read book reviews from several sources. The Library Director makes the final decisions, which are, of course, affected by budgetary restraints.

How is a book ordered?

Books and other materials are ordered from many different suppliers. Generally the primary consideration among suppliers is price, although many booksellers provide additional services that may affect the decision. For example, our primary bookseller sends all books with a barcode already affixed and provides cataloging information through a website. Certain books are sent to us automatically because they meet specific criteria. For example, we always order all Greg Iles's books since he is a Natchez author. In addition, some of our books are donated.

What happens when a book arrives?

If the book is donated, a determination is made as to whether it is worth adding to the library collection. If the book was purchased, the first thing is to check to make certain the books in the package match what the invoice says is supposed to be there. Then the books have to go through several steps in the Library:


This is a very important and often misunderstood step in placing a book in your Library. This is what makes it possible for you to quickly find the book that you want. Our cataloger uses several sources to make her decisions. First, materials are categorized by type of media: books, tapes, videos, magazines, newspapers, and microfilm. Books are then divided into categories according to the type of reader: Adult, Large Print, Young Adult, Juvenile, and Easy Readers. Next books are further divided into specific categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Biographies, and Reference. Fiction is ordered by author and Biographies by the person(s). Nonfiction and Reference are categorized according to the Dewey Decimal System, which has been used by libraries since 1876. (For more information, see How to Find Books in the Library.) In addition, all materials are coded with the appropriate subjects and keywords, to help patrons find materials. Finally, all this information must be entered into the computer so that patrons have access to the information. At this point, patrons will be able to find the book in our catalog, but it's status will be "in cataloging," and it can't be checked out yet.


All items have a barcode label which is its unique identifier in the Library and also allows the book to be scanned for checkout and checkin. Books and other materials also have a label, called a spine label, that is easily visible from the shelf and that tells you where they are located in the library. All books must be covered with a special plastic cover, called a dust jacket, to protect it. Several pieces of information are stamped or written in each book: when it was received, which branch library it belongs to, and the warning for misuse. Plus all items are "hotted" which means it will set off an alarm if taken out of the library without being checked out.


The item's status is changed from "in cataloging" to "checked in" and is then available to be checked out by patrons. New adult books are usually placed in the "New Books" section of the library for about 6 months, before they are placed in their permanent location.


All invoices for books must be approved for payment, which means checking to be sure they were authorized for purchase and have actually been received. In addition, all payments are allocated according to the type and category of materials, so we can keep track of where our monies are going.

So now you know why, when you ask us to get a book, it doesn’t show up the next day!

For greater knowledge visit your library often!

Word of the Day

Free Internet Access

Look for "JGAPL - Public WiFi" while at the library.

We offer Public Wireless Internet Access here at the library. We offer no technical support to assist you on this service.

Search our OPAC

(Online Patron Access Catalog)


Hours of Operation

Library Avatar

220 South Commerce St., Natchez, MS 39120
Phone: 601-445-8862
Fax: 601-446-7795

Mon: 9-5
Wed: 9-5
Fri: 9-5
Tue: 9-5
Thur: 9-5
Sat: 10-1

Closed on Sundays 

New Digital Services
Join to our Mailing List
( please fill in all blanks )
Email Format to receive 
This Day in History
Like Us on Facebook

Scan the QR code with you mobile device to follow us on Facebook.

Scan to Like us on Facebook
Follow Us on Twitter

Don't forget you can always ASK a LIBRARIAN if you're stumped.

Become a FOL

We would love to have you join us to be a friend and supporter of our Library. Dues are very reasonable, and the level of involvement is up to you. Just print and fill out the form above, then mail it to us or bring it into the Library.



Greetings to you.


When you contribute to Judge George W. Armstrong Library, your name, or the name of the person you choose to honor, will be printed on a bookplate and placed in a new item that will circulate throughout the Judge George W. Armstrong Library.
Donations are always welcome and can be given for the general needs of the library or for specific projects to be agreed upon by the Library Director and the donor. Donations are tax-deductible. No amount is too large or too small!