Money Can't Buy Happiness (Except for Library Materials)

I've said it often: as the Collection Development Librarian for NPL, I have the best job in the building. Why? I get to purchase lots of materials for the library collection. I'm frequently asked, "How do you know what to buy?"

First of all, I have our Materials Selection policy to guide me. Approved by the NPL Board, it helps me to determine what is, and what is not, within our library's purpose to buy and own. Different types of libraries serve different purposes, and as a public library, we want to stock materials useful for, and representative of, our community's leisure interests. That's why you'll see lots of books that support learning fun skills or individual entertainment and not textbooks or volumes of case law. It's also why we check out board games and ukeleles, among other cool things.

Second, I constantly read reviews in publications like Booklist and School Library Journal so that I know not only what's coming out, but what's marked as especially good or useful for public library patrons of all ages. For items published in a series, I might double-check our catalog to see if we have the first book before I buy the sequel. I also look at checkout patterns to see whether OUR library users tend to prefer or avoid certain topics, like memoirs (not as often) or large-print Amish romances (we can hardly buy enough). I also pay attention to what's hot on TikTok, what's on the shelves at Target, and what materials are trendy in other kinds of media, too.

Third, I study and listen to our community as closely as possible. We buy books, movies, games, etc. that our community requests unless they don't fit our Materials Selection policy or we can't get hold of them. I use digital tools to check what parts of our collection need to be bigger, to fit demand, or smaller, to make room for things that might get more use. Stats about the community help me to decide whether to acquire more materials in Spanish or board books in Hindi. And as always, I'm looking for balance: materials that can serve our users and potential users the best for the dollars we have to spend.

It's true: money can't buy happiness, not exactly. But it can buy library materials, and truthfully, if I'm doing my job correctly, that's kind of the same thing for our community. I'm never happier than when I hear a library user say: "This is EXACTLY what I was looking for!" And if you don't see what you want on our shelves, feel free to Suggest an Item via our website or to a staff member. We want to hear from YOU!

Post User
Post Type