Heart of the Holidays in the Machine Readable Collection

The tradition of traveling home for the holidays is common across religions and cultures and sometimes the journey takes far longer than expected. At worst case, you have a recreation of the holiday classic Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with Steve Martin and the late John Candy. For items in the Library of Congress catalog, the journey is part of its story, and today’s story is about Heart of the Holidays: Holiday Inspirations, Yuletide Treasures & Traditions by Sheryl L. Roush.

Front cover of Heart of the Holidays

Heart of the Holidays by Sheryl L. Roush, 2022. Photo Credit: K.F. Shovlin

The book is a collection of songs, stories, and other holiday traditions that span the Judeo-Christian culture. It goes beyond the gift giving holidays coming up, starting with some songs and tales from Thanksgiving and ending at New Years. It is a true guide to the holiday season in Western society.

Table of Contents, Heart of the Holidays

The contents of Heart of the Holidays covers Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, and New Years, 2022. Photo Credit: K.F. Shovlin

Heart of the Holidays was published by Sparkle Press in San Diego, CA and printed in Canada back in September 2007. It had been catalogued through the Library’s Cataloging in Production program for release in the United States, registered on April 19, 2010. The copy that finds its home on our shelves was received officially on June 23, 2016. Most books arriving at the Library have a smooth transfer from office to office before being placed on the shelf, but Heart of the Holidays has a passenger traveling along with it, a CD of holiday music.

The Heart of the Holidays CD

The CD of Holiday music is what makes this book special, and gives it a special home at the Library, 2022. Photo Credit: K.F. Shovlin

Compact Discs and other machine readable items require a different standard of care, both in the way they are transferred, but also the way they are stored. For a book like Heart of the Holidays, having the lyrics and tales printed inside only tell part of story. The CD is a vital part of it as well, parts that must be kept together. At the Library of Congress, general collection books containing these items go to the Machine Readable Collection or MRC, accessible from the Main Reading Room in the Thomas Jefferson Building.

A recitation of the Night Before Christmas from the Library’s National Jukebox. A similar recording appears on the CD accompanying Heart of the Holidays.

After being unpacked in 2016, the book went into a lengthy queue for review prior to officially entering the catalog. That review was completed by a cataloger in the Geography, Political Science & Education Section of the U.S. Arts, Sciences, & History Division within the Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate in January 2019.

From there, it was delayed by the pandemic and other backlogs and arrived at its current stop, the Processing and Preparation Section (PPS) on October 11, 2022. While most items spend only a little time waiting for processing in PPS, MRC items must wait until enough have arrived to be processed in its own binding lot. While a typical book lot can easily gather 100 to 300 items within a week, the MRC lot can take weeks or months to have enough.

Books on a binding truck belonging to the MRC

Heart of the Holidays with items destined for MRC on lot 23-B115, 2022. Photo Credit: K.F. Shovlin

Though it has taken years to get to this point, there is much more to go before Heart of the Holidays joins the MRC. The item is typed as part of lot 23-B115, designated style C as it includes material that must be placed in a pocket. For CDs such as this book, I request a Tyvek CD Pocket. This lot is still in process as other duties in PPS currently supersede that work, but once it is completed this month, it will be entered into another queue, waiting for transport to the commercial bindery. Not all MRCs must go to the bindery, as some, including hardcover books, are taken care of in house by the General Collections Care Section (GCCS)

A tyvek CD pocket is adheared to the back cover of a hardcover book.

A Tyvek CD pocket has been attached to this hardcover book by a staff member in GCCS, 2022. Photo Credit: K.F. Shovlin

Currently PPS has a backlog of work to be sent to the bindery, and it takes a month for items to be bound and returned, so another holiday season will be spent not on the shelves for this title. When it does arrive at the bindery, their staff will properly cut and bind the book, then gently place the CD into the pocket attached to the distinctive Library of Congress endpaper on the back cover of the book.

A cloth & paper pocket is adhered to the back cover of a bound book.

This pocket material was attached to the back cover of a book bound at the commercial bindery, 2022. Photo Credit: K.F. Shovlin

There are many stops yet on the book’s journey to the shelves. Once the bindery returns it, it will be reviewed by PPS staff, and unless there’s a problem, the MRC will be its next and final stop. If all goes well, by mid-2023, Heart of the Holidays will finally be its forever home with thousands of other items in the MRC and available to Library patrons like you!

In the meantime, you can find holiday music and recitations such as The Night Before Christmas on the Library of Congress’ National Jukebox.

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