Librarian: One Part Personal Shopper

A part of being a librarian that I really enjoy is collection development: a.k.a. shopping. Getting to go through reviews and select books, music, audiobooks and finding the occasional DVD that I hop up and down and beg the DVD selector for…it’s fun! And I’m not spending my money.

However, with that freedom of not spending my money comes the responsibility that I’m spending yours. I’m spending money from the taxpayers and that means I need to choose wisely to meet the highly varied needs of your children. This is why occasionally I’m cross-eyed from wading through reviews and going through my “possible purchase lists”, trying to round out the collection. There needs to be a balance of “good literature”, classics, popular fiction, mysteries, hard stuff, and snack food reading. And that means that while I have multiple copies of the 2009 Newbury award winning book (Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman) and the latest by Laurence Yep, I’m also going to order the Daisy Meadows and Captain Underpants books–because your third graders are passing those last two around at school, sharing them, and coming to me to ask for them. And often, if I can get them in looking at the snack food books they’ll grab something else while they are here. Come on –> the cool books are here at the library….

This morning, for the first time, I ordered books that were a memorial. Money was given to the library children’s department in honor of a woman who passed away and it was my responsibility to purchase items that will get a bookplate with her name in them. It sounds simple, order books, insert name plate, shelve. But I spent time considering what I would purchase–items that would circulate, ones we needed, but also books that will have a shelf longevity greater than the Tiara Club or Bionicle series.

I’m in the middle of a heavy weeding project, trying to breathe life and love back into a chapter book collection that hasn’t seen it in a while. This means I’m handling every single book, putting holds on ones that are checked out so I can see condition, making the decisions about getting rid of Mary Kate and Ashley, Babysitters Club, or that book that was really popular eight years ago, but hasn’t circulated of late. Part of the weeding means that I am replacing a lot of our well-loved and used classics and it was to this list I turned for the memorial.

For the memorial gift I ended up ordering Black Beauty (Anna Sewell); A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Madeline L’Engle); Hard Gold (Avi); and Little Women (Louisa May Alcott). Of the four, only Hard Gold is a new title, but the other three continue to have strong circulation, and they are books parents consistently ask for when looking for something they remember reading as children. And in competition with all of the new and exciting titles I’m buying, classics sometimes go by the wayside because of dull covers–which is why I spent time not only considering titles, but appearance of those titles. How it will appeal to the casual browser is important: we’re all book-cover magpies.

So that is part of my day–being a personal shopper of literature and music. Hmm…I wonder if I’ve included that on my resume.

And now….off to read School Library Journal and pick out some more titles!