• By Lara Luck
  • Posted Friday, July 29, 2016

How Did That Get on the Shelf?

With so many books published each year, how does the Library choose what is purchased and added to the collection? Well, that’s my job, or at least part of my job. As Collection Development Manager for FCPL I coordinate material purchasing for the library, which is a fancy way of saying I read through book review publications, publisher emails, catalogs, etc. and choose what I think you, our customers, will want to read in the next week, month, and year. Librarians study collection development in library school-- this is an important part of what we do. It is not about what we personally like and want to read, although I choose plenty that I do want to read, but materials that will enhance the collection and meet the information needs of our community.

Recognizing different interests is a key part of my job. I try to keep up with trends, fads, popular authors and topics, so that today’s young adult dystopian future pick (think Hunger Games) becomes tomorrow’s realistic fiction novel on the shelf. I watch out for the upcoming bestsellers and try to anticipate how many will be required so you don’t have to wait too long to get it.

Although I oversee most of the material selection for the Library I’m not the only one who selects books. Our youth services librarians choose juvenile books for our system by dividing up the different fiction and nonfiction areas between themselves. The Teen Services librarian orders the young adult selections for the Library. The North Carolina Room supervisor selects materials for their department and some NC books for the system. There is also a Hispanic materials selector, an audio-visual (AV) librarian, a reference materials selector, and others who help with speciality areas. Each library branch and department also has a profile for their collection that helps me to determine what is needed and wanted most by their customers. Every librarian in our system strives to make sure the Library’s collection is the best it can be for our community.

So, how can you help? Let your local branch librarians know what you want and need. If you have a favorite author and the Library doesn’t have their books, let us know. One of the easiest ways to make a purchase request is online using our online catalog request function or through our Ask Your Librarian reference service. Go to our webpage to find them. You can also ask to make a purchase request at any library location. Keep in mind, it’s hard for us to order a book too far in advance of its publication. I try not to take requests more than three months ahead of time because our primary vendor puts a ninety day limitation on orders. So, if that favorite author is putting a new book out next year, hold off requesting it until three months before it’s due to be published. When you do request something please try to provide as much information about the book as you can, author, title, and publication date, even the isbn (international standard book number) if possible. Make sure we have your information as well, especially library card number, so we can place a hold on the item for you. Keep in mind we don’t know what you want unless you tell us, so talk to your librarians about what you read.

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