Shopping online saves time: a library supplier's view

More work, less time. This combination seems, increasingly, to be the lot of school librarians. There are reduced budgets for staffing and resources but teachers and students still require a librarian to be the last minute solution to all their information needs.

To compensate, school libraries are working more and more with specialist library suppliers – in the same way that public libraries have been doing for years. The benefits can be substantial – irrespective of your book-buying style.

Librarians appreciate being able to see books before purchase. The advantages of touching and feeling a book need to be weighed against the disadvantages of this approach, which include:

  • time involved for rep/shop visits
  • size of the range that can be viewed compared to the number of new releases (there are approximately 3,000 new children’s/teen titles released each month, from hundreds of publishers - and twice that number in the adult range)
  • limitations on searching for specific titles and subjects
  • titles can only be viewed after they are released.

Having all past, present and future titles in print (and out of print) profiled on a single online database means that titles can be searched for and located quickly. Additional benefits include:

  • the ability to browse all upcoming releases in advance of release in one location
  • active databases covering all books of interest to libraries across all publishers – both locally and internationally
  • the ability to search by various attributes – keyword, ISBN, title, author, series or a combination thereof
  • author biographies and reviews available online.

Many librarians have of course been shopping online for a long while - using a broad range of websites, databases, blogs and reviews to make informed purchasing decisions.

Library suppliers try to bring together in one place each of these things in a format that most closely matches the unique needs of a librarian. Available features/services not always available from non-specialist online suppliers include:

  • search by Dewey classification number
  • ability to see what other school librarians are buying
  • online order history and order status
  • 'title notes' to document your thoughts on why the title would be useful (e.g. 'requested by John K ..')
  • control over creating and naming multiple 'wishlists' and 'baskets' to help with sorting planned purchases for different collections, terms, etc.
Wheelers Books

And, what's more, the discounts available to school libraries may be larger than from non-specialist library suppliers.

One library supplier in tune with the needs of school libraries is Wheelers ( Wheelers is one of the many library suppliers and publishers who have teamed up with SCIS to provide a free service to confirm all titles ordered have a SCIS catalogue record available before titles are delivered - ensuring a 100% hit rate with SCIS!

All of which leaves you with more time to field requests for information resources - sometimes only minutes before they are needed for a class or homework assignment!

Paul du Temple
Wheelers Books