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How a Book Becomes a Library Book

by Laura Hutelmyer

You’ll never step into the same library twice at Villanova University. That’s because the Library constantly adds new titles to its collection to keep up with new research and new interests.

But how does an ordinary book actually become a Library Book?

The Library receives book requests in many formats and from many sources. Requests can come from a librarian, a faculty member, staff or a student. They are routed to the Resource Management Center (RMC) via the online request form or regular email. Sometimes we even receive requests on Post-it notes, post cards, scrap paper or napkins.

Most requests must first be routed to the designated subject librarian for purchase approval. Once approved, the order is forwarded to the Acquisitions group and is ordered, either from our book vendor, Yankee Book Peddler, or from another source like Amazon.com.



When the new book arrives, it goes directly to be cataloged. This process includes assigning the book a unique barcode and then establishing its record in our online catalog. Some books can be cataloged in just minutes; others take much longer.





Christine Bochanski, RMC student aide, processes the Picasso book.


Once it’s cataloged, RMC student employees insert a security device into the book, stamp the library name on it in several locations, and apply a call-number label to its spine. RMC students process hundreds of books every week, and their attention to detail is crucial. The book has now become a Library Book.



Finally, the Library Book is put on a cart with other new books and taken to the sorting room, ultimately to be proudly shelved in its proper location.

The patron locates this new Library Book through the library catalog and checks it out at the Circulation desk!


This process explains how a print book becomes a Library Book. The Library also purchases e-books, but that’s a different story!




  1. Comment by Luisa Cywinski — April 25, 2012 @ 11:43 am

    I’m looking forward to the sequel on e-books!

  2. Comment by Judy — April 30, 2012 @ 10:32 am
  3. Comment by Aarik — May 5, 2012 @ 8:11 am

    Where i can download the e-book version of this book ?

  4. Comment by Vincent Autenrieb — September 24, 2012 @ 5:48 am

    I was drawn to this article in an attempt to understand how the principles of intellectual freedom are balanced with the public library system’s long standing position of resisting efforts to censor library resources. Seeking to understand why it is acceptable to buy a book from a local book store and retain the right to keep it in a personal library at home and share freely or sell it or even give it away and why it is also possible to “check out” books from a public library and have full access to the information they contain at no cost while some information is only available to those with the financial means to obtain. Was hoping the article would explain how the later becomes the former and what is involved in the decision? Specifically, what has to occur for a book that is on, for example, the current best seller list to become available at a local library? “How does a book become a library book?”

    How are the principles of intellectual freedom and intellectual property rights balanced with the need to avoid censorship? How does the public library system ensure information is equally available to all members of the “public” rather than favoring the elite with the financial means to obtain sooner? Thank you for considering my questions.

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Last Modified: April 25, 2012