Inquiring Minds: Temporary ‘placeholder’ label speeds up process

Q. I wanted to order a copy of that new book “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff, but I noticed that the library has cataloged it as fiction. Is the library making a political statement?


A. We live in politically contentious times, but the library will never knowingly add to the tension. We embrace controversy in our collection, but we try to remain impartial in our approach. What we are interested in doing is getting popular materials to the public as quickly as possible. And that — not politics — is why Michael Wolff’s highly charged nonfiction account of the Trump presidency was temporarily labeled as “fiction” in our online catalog. In order to get suddenly trending books like “Fire and Fury” into the hands of readers as quickly as possible, we create “placeholder” records in our catalog, so that library users can request books even before the books themselves have arrived. In the interest of speed, we neglect the details…like whether an item is fiction or nonfiction. Many nonfiction books are temporarily labeled fiction in this manner, because — based on readers’ requests — we probably order more “rush” fiction than non-fiction. There is time enough to fix the record when we assign a call number and get the books ready for pickup by the public. When news of Fire and Fury hit the airwaves, the library suddenly received over 150 requests for the book within a few days. By creating temporary “placeholder” records that are less than perfectly accurate, we can speed up the process that gets those requests filled sooner rather than later. And that is our main goal. 

(Library procedures.)


Do you have a question for the staff at the Roseville Library? You can call them at 651-724-6001 or ask your question in person at the Information Desk, Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. Library hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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