April 02, 2007

Approval plans and subject areas...

I'm now about three months into the new job and merrily selecting for my subject area - business. We use approval plans and slip plans for selecting. These are broken up into the following areas: Management, Marketing, Economics, Finance, and Accounting. Needless to say, some areas publish more than others. Also, some are more dependent on the library than others.

Each week I get an electronic slip list, which I go through. What has amazed me it what the jobber puts in certain categories. For example, all career guidance manuals, materials, etc. are in Accounting. So, Careers in Psychology shows up on the approval plan under Accounting. I admit, that one puzzles. But, because accounting doesn't publish that much, I'm rolling with the flow on that. For now. At some point, I may ask why the career manuals are under accounting. Then, there's just the plain odd stuff. And, I wonder if I'm the only one here (we have five Collection Development librarians working with different areas) receiving certain titles. Currently, I'm reviewing a title that I received a slip for that is given the subject area of "Home Economics" by the jobber, is on my Management slip list, and "chronicles a highly personal journey, with plenty of loafing stops along the way, through the hills and hollows of Southern Appalachia, in search of the tastes that define and sustain the region's people." Now, admittedly, I could be missing something, but to me it doesn't fit in any of the subject areas I cover.

Then, almost everything legal, falls under the Marketing profile. Again, some of it I can see, business law for example, but a lot of it is just plain legal with no relation to Marketing. Fortunately, the majority of it comes in slips so I can pick and choose. It just adds a bit of work to review a title that really has nothing to do with the subject.

The jobber doesn't always have a description and/or table of contents for the work. So, I find myself usually checking Global Books In Print for descriptions, which they generally have as well as fairly descriptive subject descriptions. But, if you check several sources - a couple of jobbers, GBIP, and Worldcat among others - nine times out of ten you will get different subject areas from all of them. The above title mentioned gets a subject of Cookery & Cooking/General from GBIP, Cooking from jobber number 2, and Cookery/American, Cookery/Applachian Region, Southern from WorldCat. Generally, it's the jobber that my approval plan is set up with that gets a somewhat goofy subject area. The more I do this, the more I'm intruigued with the different subject areas assigned by the different sources. I'm not alone. I've heard some of the other librarians puzzle over subjects that show up on their approval list as well.

In the end, I'm not sure it really matters. If the book doesn't fit my subject area, I don't order it. Hopefully, I'm not missing any titles this way either.