Academic journal article Library Technology Reports


Academic journal article Library Technology Reports


Article excerpt

"Acquisitions" encompasses all aspects of obtaining materials for libraries, including verifying bibliographic information about materials to be ordered, determining that the order will not inadvertently duplicate materials already in the library, preparing and sending the order, claiming materials not received, receiving and checking in of materials, recording invoice and payment information, maintaining library fund records, and keeping statistics on procurement activities.

In many libraries serials subscriptions-or, at least, periodicals subscriptions-are handled separately from firm orders (one-time purchases of monographs and serial backfiles), either in another technical services unit or in a combined public/technical services unit. The practice may have begun in libraries with branches that could not afford the delays inherent in centralized receiving and check-in of serials. The fact that the types of records maintained and the vendors that a library deals with also are different undoubtedly made this a reasonable approach for all types of libraries. The discussion in this section, therefore, focuses on firm orders, the acquisition of all materials that are expected to arrive within weeks or months, with the order to be completed within the fiscal year.


There are several distinct acquisitions functions: selection, verification, vendor assignment, ordering, claiming and canceling, receiving, payment, and statistics. These are briefly described in the following pages.


The library acquisitions process begins with the selection of materials by acquisitions staff or with the arrival of a request for purchase from a designated selector. The selector may be a collection development specialist, a librarian with responsibility for a particular collection, or, in an academic institution, a faculty member. Many libraries encourage those who participate in book selection to record their suggestions on multipart request slips, which have a number of benefits:

1. Participation in selection can be encouraged by distributing selection forms. 2. The structured format prompts the requestors to include the information necessary for ordering. 3. Requests can be processed more easily if they are in a standard format. 4. The results of acquisitions checking and verification can be recorded on the form and returned to the requestor if the material is found to be on order or already in the library. 5. The forms can be used in various files as a routing form, and later returned to the requestor to indicate that the item has been received and is ready for use.


Many sources of information available to selectors do not include full order details such as if the title is part of a series, or purchase price or publisher's address. Determining such details during preorder searching or verification makes it possible to send the order either directly to the publisher or a jobber. Other aspects of verification include correcting errors in the citation to prevent unwanted duplication and adding sufficient information to place an order. In many libraries, verification also provides information useful in cataloging, such as the correct form of the author's name, the ISBN/ISSN, or the Library of Congress card number.

Every library maintains a file of outstanding orders, and larger libraries often have several such files. If the file is small, it may contain not only items on order but also items in-process. There are often cross-references to the standing order file, which is usually in a different format to make possible the recording of multiple receipts on a single card. Some libraries maintain separate files for standing orders, approval plans, serials, and documents.

Large libraries usually maintain many standing orders for series titles and other irregularly issued publications, and some large libraries maintain standing orders for all titles produced by a publisher with titles relevant to the library's collection. …

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