Collection development FAQs

As Collection Development Coordinator, I occasionally get asked questions relating to the materials we collect here at the library. For anyone interested, I’ve compiled some of the more frequently asked question below. One question that is not often asked is “what is collection development?” The answer: It is just library-speak for purchasing anything that goes into our collections including books, DVDs, CDs, and electronic content.

Q: Who buys books and other materials for the library?

A: This is a big job and we have a team of people working in various departments purchasing materials. There are nine employees buying materials ranging from books for adults, children, and teens; audiobooks on CD; DVDs for adults and children; music CDs; books in various languages; ebooks; and downloadable audiobooks.

Q: There are so many books published all the time. How do you decide which ones to buy?

A: Unfortunately, we cannot purchase every book published so we have to be selective. Selection is not easy, but it is also one of most enjoyable aspects of collection development. We rely on advance notification publications from the major book vendors for popular titles. These publications cover books and other materials that are due to be released in the next couple of months. We also rely on review sources such as The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal for less popular but high-quality titles (also known as mid-list books). Finally, we receive many eclectic suggestions from our very literate customers.

Q: That reminds me, I would like to suggest that the library purchase a book. How can I do that?

A: The easiest way is online. Just enter your card number and PIN (the last four digits of your phone number) and fill out the form. We will let you know if we will purchase your suggestion and, if we do, we will hold the book for you when it is ready to check out.

Q: Where do you purchase your books?

A: We use a couple of vendors that give us generous discounts and also supply records for our catalog and send the books to us processed and very close to ready to go out on our shelves. This helps reduce the time we spend getting the books ready to be checked out.

Q: How can I get a job where I get to buy books for a living?

A: Go to library school and become a librarian! Library schools offer courses on collection development and, if you are lucky, you may get a job in a library where you, too, can select the books people will want to read.

I hope this has been enlightening, and keep the questions coming.

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