Ordering books for the library: A brief history

As you know, I love books. However, I haven’t always loved ordering all of the books that we must have here at the Mifflin County Library.

A little background … every book has its own unique ID, the International Standard Book Number (ISBN). While many books have the same title, they will not have the same number. There’s Rage by Jonathan Kellerman and there’s Rage by Jonathan Maberry. ISBNs are 13 numbers long (they used to be 10).

A little history … when I first joined the library team as the Children’s Librarian, I had a blank order form that I would photocopy over and over again. I hand wrote on the order form, the quantity, the ISBN, the title and the author. And then I would fax it to my book vendor. Tedious, much?

I read journals to find new books; I relied heavily on my young readers to tell me which new titles came out. I worked on my book orders every day. But I did not have the internet to find the ISBN.

I was so happy when the digital era started! You know I love technology. We now order our books from a vendor called Ingram. My life changed and ordering all of our books became so easy. To a point.

Ingram has a database called Auto Ship. It is the best thing! Auto Ship is a list of authors who are popular and their books are automatically shipped directly to MCL. James Patterson, Nora Roberts, and David Baldacci are on the list but also Richard Paul Evans and Mitch Albom as well as Christian authors like Wanda Brunstetter and Beverly Lewis.

However, there is a drawback. This order is for fiction books (novels) only.

A little confession … I didn’t know that Mitch Albom writes both fiction and nonfiction. And I just hate it when a patron calls and says, “Are you getting (fill in the blank)?” and I don’t already have it on order. It’s embarrassing.

I know, I know … I’m not perfect! Nobody’s perfect. But I want to be.

A patron called and asked, “Are you getting Mitch Albom’s new book Finding Chika?” I didn’t even know Mitch Albom had a new book. His name is selected for Auto Ship, but there again, only the Fiction Books. This is the story of a little girl in Haiti who is diagnosed with a rare disease. Did you know that Mitch Albom and his wife operate an orphanage in Haiti?

This book is the story of their two-year journey to help this brave little girl.

The point of my article: Another patron emailed me about Steve Robinson’s The Penmaker’s Wife. This book was on order and in the building. I so appreciate book suggestions. I love book people. Please feel free to call or email me or any staff and ask about a book you want. All of the staff have access to the list of books that are on order. Don’t be afraid to ask. I only ask that you don’t Facebook message me. Because I just won’t remember. I try to be perfect. A little help is nice.


Susan Miriello is the Assistant Director at the Mifflin County Library. She is currently not reading Chika by Mitch Albom. She doesn’t read books that make her cry! She is reading the newest Simon R. Green, The House on Widows Hill.


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