Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Library Reclamation

If you’ve visited Decatur Public Library’s Online Library Catalog over the past month or so, you may have noticed that the items sliding by on the New Releases “crawl” haven’t changed. There really is a good explanation for that, and it’s called a Reclamation. (Here at the library we can’t help but joke that it sounds serious and ominous, as in, The Spanish Inquisition: No one expects The Library Reclamation!) It’s not quite as scary as it sounds, but in DPL’s case, it was a necessary project, and thankfully one done only rarely since it is so time-consuming.
The gist is that DPL participates in a worldwide database known as WorldCat. Hosted by a company in Ohio, OCLC, and found at, it’s a way for libraries and library users across the globe to know what can be found at all other participating libraries. This not only creates opportunities for inter-library loans, but builds a database of accurate and consistent records which help you find what you’re looking for at your own local public library. Unfortunately, our “holdings,” pretty much everything we own: books, audiobooks, electronic books, DVDs, etc., became out of date due to a statewide 2014/2015 lapse in OCLC membership – especially holdings acquired new, or discarded because of wear, during that span of time. OCLC needed a current “picture” of our database in order to bring us up to speed with other libraries for 2016 and beyond. I liken this “picture” to having an X-ray taken. Most of us are familiar with that procedure, and the emphatic instruction from the technician, “hold your breath and stay completely still,” or the image will be blurry. That’s why, as this analogous “X-ray” is taken of our database by OCLC, we cannot add or discard items from our collection or the accuracy will be “blurry.” Like an X-ray, it’s uncomfortable and seems to take forever but I can promise it will be over before you know it, and you’ll soon be able to relax and exhale while enjoying all the new books and movies which will be forthcoming.
As a side-note, though there’s never an ideal time for a library to do as extensive a project as a Reclamation, it coincided well with the installation of DPL’s first-floor-wide carpet replacement – courtesy of the efforts of Senator Arthur Orr! Since we cataloguers weren’t able to catalogue, it meant all-hands-were-on-deck to help move shelving and shift and pack thousands of books in order to have this lovely new carpet installed while the library stayed open to serve you as best we could. Please come in soon to see how spiffy it looks, all the brighter under LED ceiling lights updated by the City of Decatur, and check out some enjoyable reads or movies for the holidays!
Thank you for your patience, and most of all, for your patronage. We would not be here without your support!