Collection Development 101: Selection

The super awesome Anne at So Tomorrow made a great post this weekend about collection development.  I really enjoy hearing how other people do things in their libraries, so I thought I’d play along and make my own collection development post!

A Little Bit About My Library:

I work in a city library that’s not quite small, but not quite medium in size.  We serve a population of over 100,000 people; however, we only buy one copy of a book unless it’s an award-winner or popular.

As the sole children’s librarian at my library, I’m in charge of buying all of the books for babies up to young adult.  My immediate supervisor (the youth services manager) buys the young adult books, and my library director buys youth media such as DVDs, Audiobooks, Playaways and e-books.

A Little Bit About Choosing Which Books to Buy:

I use pretty much the same resources that Anne has listed on her post.  When it comes to review journals, I also use (in addition to what Anne has mentioned) Booklist, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, and (very rarely, but on occasion) the publisher catalogs that I get throughout the year.

I also love reading other storytime-centric blogs to see what books they’re reading in storytime.  I usually find some really great books this way!

A Little Bit About Budgeting:

This is where it gets a little bit embarrassing for me; I don’t have any budget spreadsheets like Anne does, and when it comes to the budget, I’m actually not nearly as organized as I was trained to be in grad school.

My library director allocates the budget, telling me how much I have in each of my four collection development areas:  Picture Books, which includes board books, easy readers, concept books, holiday books, and the good ol’ fashioned picture book, Juvenile Fiction, which includes paperbacks (which I hardly buy) and other juvenile fiction chapter books, Nonfiction and, last but not least, Biographies.

Horizon keeps track of how much I have spent, how much is on order, and how much I have left in my budget.  I do not keep a monthly budget, though I do keep one eye on the Horizon budget report and buy accordingly.  Some months I spend more than others, and some months I spend less than others.

A Little Bit About the Ordering Process:

I mainly use Baker & Taylor.  At my library, the collection development manager creates a Baker & Taylor PO in Horizon, and everyone adds their books to it.  The PO will be up for a few weeks before the collection development manager creates a new one and approves of the old one, closing it off.

When I find a book that I want to order, I first go to the Baker & Taylor website, find the book on there, copy its ISBN, then go into the Baker & Taylor PO, paste the ISBN, do the ISBN search, click order and then fill in the budget and collection information.

When I can’t find a book on Baker & Taylor (or when it’s back ordered), I use BWI.  This one’s a bit trickier because I have to create a list on the BWI website, order through the website, then create my own PO in Horizon and add the books through there.  When I’m finished with the PO, I approve it and send an e-mail to my library director and collection development manager with the approved PO number.

Sporadically throughout the year, we’ll get preview boxes from vendors.  I LOVE PREVIEW BOXES!!!  I love flipping through the books, reading them, consulting with other staff members about them, sleeping on them (not literally of course, but figuratively), rereading them, and really taking my time deciding whether they should be in our collection or not.  When I do make my decision, I call the sales rep to place the order, create the PO in Horizon, e-mail my library director and collection development manager the PO number, then wheel the books down to tech services for them to take care of.

Lastly, some vendors send sales reps with books to the library.  I don’t mind this, but it’s not as nice as just sending the books and letting me take my time with them.  When the sales rep is present, I feel pressured to make quick decisions.  Luckily I’m very good at making quick decisions.  When the reps come, they put the books out on a table, and I first make two piles:  1) Books that I’m interested in, and 2) Books that I’m not interested in.  I then take the books that I’m interested in and search for them on Horizon to see if we already have them.  If we don’t have them, I’ll decide if there’s a need or a want for them in the library.  A lot of these books are usually things like Star Wars books, Transformers books, Pokemon books…you know…books that have a high demand but don’t appear in review journals.  Also board books.  I buy most of my board books and easy readers from these sales reps.  When I make my final decision, the sales rep enters the books I want into a laptop and prints out a copy for me.  They take all the books back with them, and a week or so later my order comes in and I make the PO, approve it, e-mail, etc.

A Few Last Words:

That is all I really have to say about how I do collection development.  Anne has a great bullet point list of things to consider when you’re on the fence about a book, or just need to cut titles.  I agree with pretty much everything she has listed there.

I’ll end by saying that collection development is a bit tricky when you first start at a library, but once you really get to know your community and collection, it gets a lot easier.