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How the Library Builds Collections

Posted 3 months ago by Amy H

Have you ever wondered how the Library chooses which books to buy for the community when there are so many to choose from? Get the inside scoop directly from the source - our Collection Development Team.

Building Library Collections

You’d think a job where we just buy stuff would be fairly easy, but the limitations of budget and shelf space require us to put a lot of thought into what we purchase. If you’ve ever wondered how we build our collections, here are some of the basics.

1. We Get a Lot of Lists

Most libraries don’t go to a traditional bookstore for the majority of their purchases. There are companies (aka “vendors”) who specialize in helping libraries get stuff, which is vital to our process since we order hundreds of titles each week and keeping track of that many orders would be a nightmare.

The Library receives a lot of lists from vendors. These lists typically include content from review magazines like Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus and others. Vendor lists help us understand where potential demand will be, which is really helpful.

We also get lists directly from publishers featuring upcoming titles from their big hitters, new authors and “mid-list” reliable authors that have a steady following. And those are just some of “the official” channels!

Did you know there are a lot of great websites, like BookRiot, that feature newsletters with focused content on popular genre reads? The Library subscribes to a variety of newsletters to keep up on trends and discover those lesser-known gems.

And while we certainly can’t purchase everything we see on lists, websites and in newsletters - a lot of what we end up purchasing often comes from somewhere within this this realm.

2. We Get a Lot of Requests

The collection development team receives a steady stream of requests from library customers who are looking for specific titles, as well as from librarians who notice content gaps in the collection or subject areas where our holdings are out-of-date or worn out. We try to add what we can, or alternately find materials from our lending partners throughout the state and the Midwest to fill requests. Unfortunately, we can’t order everything, but we do our best to provide access as much as possible.

3. What People Expect to Find in a Book is Continuously Changing

When was the last time you used a phone book? How about unfolding a map? People often look for travel information, up-to-date political and business information, and things like pop-culture news or fashion ideas on their favorite websites before going to books.

Did you know the variety of information people primarily look for online is expanding? And did you know fewer books in these areas are getting published?

Pinterest is a massive hub for creative ideas, getting trivia facts or reading about a celebrity via Google is the norm for many; finding addresses, phone numbers and using maps online is pretty much the best way to find this info. We have to be thoughtful in what we purchase in these areas and make sure we find the niches where books are still in demand and valuable to our customers.

And this is just barely the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more to developing a collection than just purchasing new materials.

Our Collection Development Team includes an adult, juvenile and e-content selector. And they all use a variety of resources that are continuously changing and evolving with the times to make informed decisions. Building our collections, keeping up on trends and making sure we are meeting the needs or our community is a never-ending challenge that they love to tackle each day.

Image of books on shelves from Pixabay

Finding Your Next Great Read

If you're looking for recent additions to our collection ... check out our book and movie lists. These lists include a variety of content to meet the needs of our customers, they're updated on a regular basis and you can subscribe to them!

And if you just can't decide on what to read next, let us know. We have a lot of knowledgeable librarians on staff who are happy to help you find that next great read.


Featured Image Credit: Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.

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