Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Collection Development

It's lightly raining in Chicago. Skies are gray, trees are still, everything is quiet but the rain. Inside and outside it's going to be a quiet day.

At the library I need to work on collection development. I order the large print, science fiction and fantasy and reference materials for my library. I spend hours reading reviews for books with titles like: A Taint in the Blood, Krymsin Nocturnes and The Darkling Fields of Arvon. It's part of the job and I do enjoy filling the shelves with books that someone, somewhere will take home, curl up with in front of the fire or in bed and happily devour. It makes me happy.

I do wish that collection development was easier. Maybe it would be if I read the genre that I order, but I don't read science fiction or fantasy and while I do occasionally pick up a reference book (see my post on my favorite reference book), most titles are not really leisurely reading.

Sometimes I get asked by new librarians, "Where do you find reviews for the books you order?" or "How do you narrow down the titles that you order for your library?". Well it's been a trial by fire really. The first thing I did when I got collection development responsibilities for the sci fi and fantasy collection was to familiarize myself with the collection by weeding it. I got reports from circulation on the titles that had NOT circulated in the past 3 years and I discarded them. Well I discarded most of them. I kept titles that were part of a series or classics (Tolkien etc). I then began to piece together incomplete series and buying works from popular authors that we didn't already have. As a series reader myself (albeit romance), there is nothing worse than wanting to read a book in a series but your library only carries book 3 of 6 but not 1,2,4,5 or 6. Frustrating!

I also turn to reviews. I read publications like Library Journal and Booklist and although I might get sick of reading hundreds of reviews it helps narrow down the titles I commit to adding to the collection. There are also multiple e-newsletters that I subscribe too. These e-newsletters from libraries around the country tell me what other libraries are adding to their collections. A subscribe to a number of e-newsletters from the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District which you can read here.

Whether you are buying for a library or supplementing your home reading collection, the resources are out there. If you have any collection development tips, I'd love to hear them.

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