Friday, August 29, 2008

Morning Thoughts, Afternoon Thoughts

Alice In Wonderland, Alice and the Caterpillar smoking his hookah. I really just like the image. It is just as good as the Cheshire cat.

Morning Thoughts

I was reading Slanted Jack by Mark L. Van Name on the train this morning. It is solid writing, not exceptional. The book is the second in a series (John and Lobo). John is a mercenary with some unique abilities. He can listen to machines and talk to them. Lobo is his PCAV, a form of assault vehicle. It is kind of interesting in a way. John has a personal relationship with an assault carrier. This is the second book which the writer has done. It is a little more polished than the first book. The story is a little bit better in the first book, One Jump Ahead. The publisher is Baen books which publishes military science fiction.

This morning, I went through the civil service test books and weeded out some of the older titles, I also went through some of the career titles and weeded out older duplicate titles. One of the major reasons I weed books is to make the other, newer books more visible to patrons. Also, it makes it much easier to find things if you have weeded the collection. I always like being very systematic and checking every book. This makes it easier for me to order new books and manage my shelving library aide.

Weeding, ordering, and managing shelving in combination make it easy to find things. The location of many items becomes almost second nature. Combined with regularly checking the stacks to see if they are in order, it gives me a pretty good idea where everything is. It is up to the point where I can find many books if someone just mentions a popular title. It would be almost the same experience if you worked in a bookstore and you ordered, shelved, inventoried, and returned items from a specific section of books.

Afternoon Thoughts

Sometimes I think a lot about the idea of a core collection. The idea is that in most libraries about 10% of books are used regularly. The other 90% of the books are not used that regularly. This applies also to bookstores. When you think about this, it amounts to about 1 in 10 books in most libraries.

Theoretically, through improved selection, you may be able to increase the amount of books to 25% of the collection. This requires a lot of selective regular weeding, being very selective in purchasing, and improving the usability and visibility of the shelving. It means the shelves should not be packed too tightly, and there should be room for expansion of the collection.

I like to expand the idea of core collection to a map of a whole collection. In some ways, I think of the collection as consisting of a set of core classic books like Machiavelli, The Prince, Plato, The Republic, Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Darwin, Origin of the Species, and similar titles. Surrounding this are practical titles that are used a lot, high use and high popularity items. Things which would appear on the New York Times Bestseller List, or be needed for everyday activities like buying a home, or growing a garden.

For me there is a kind of map when I am selecting things to buy. I like to think of core and popular titles which might be in a subject. When I buy popular titles, I like to expand the places which I might search for popular titles to include specialty magazines and sites. I don't just use the New York Times Book Review, I also look at places like Business Week Bestsellers, Locus Bestseller List (Science Fiction), Romantic Times, and The National Indie Bestseller Lists , I also look at Diamond Comic Books Distributors Bestsellers

Then I like to think in terms of community. Demographics and community statistics are actually fairly important when you are looking for books to buy. What languages does a community speak? What ethnic groups are there? For example if you have a lot of Brazilians, you might want to buy a decent amount of Brazilian fiction. We also buy a lot of urban fiction. Who are the local authors? What is the local industry? The largest professional association in our community is nursing, so we buy a lot of nursing test preparation books for the NCLEX. What is being assigned in the schools?

Then I like to think of the special collections which we maintain. Some libraries may have collections that focus on special areas. We have a large multicultural collection covering a wide variety of ethnic groups, a job information center collection, a law collection, a very large mystery collection, a collection of musical scores, a special collection of African American audiobooks, an African film collection, a very large cookbook collection, and recently I have been expanding the graphic novel collection.

There are also some surprising things. We have a refrigerator factory in our area, so we have to buy more HVAC books than might be expected. Then we have some things which are just uncategorizable that people like for some reason or other. There is a lot of interesting in knitting and crocheting in our community. We have a knittig club at the library.


Sharon_Hart said...

Your idea of a core collection is ideal for someone whose interests don't change throughout the years. However, as an avid reader and purchaser of books, I find that my personal library has multiple "core collections" which are based upon my interests of a particular period in time.

Book Calendar said...

Core is usually meant to be for things that remain classics over the years because they represent the central thesis on a particular topic. For example in stocks there is The Intelligent Investor and Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits.

The Success said...

nice post
i like it

the success

Willy said...

Deep stuff for a redneck.

Got any books on NASCAR?

10-4 Hillbilly Willy

Book Calendar said...

I think we have a few books on NASCAR. The last NASCAR books we got were actually a series of romances put out by Harlequin.