Edouard Manet, The Reader, 1861, Oil on canvas
Daily Thoughts 3/31/2009
Today, I had to explain part of the ordering process for new books for one of our new librarians. She is ordering for religion, philosophy, and psychology. It was mainly some of the things she needed to do before starting to order. I reminded her that she should spend a half hour a day looking through her sections for ordering to familiarize herself with her part of the collection. She also will be placed on the routing slips for magazines, Kirkus Reviews, Choice, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist. We have a fairly extensive periodical section so she probably will also be reading the Christian Science Monitor, Psychology Today, and a few other magazines for reviews.
I have a sheet which breaks down call numbers by circulation. She went a bit further and started looking up the exact subjects attached to each call number in her section. My basic philosophy is that we should be ordering two types of books, very popular titles, and high quality titles. We seem to have a lot of the middling books which not many people read in our collection.
I am rather fond of the idea of the "core collection" concept. It basically states that in a library or bookstore, most use comes from a small percentage of the books 10-20% of titles. These titles are usually very popular titles or essential titles, classics in their fields. My goal is to increase the presence of a mix of very high quality titles and classics mixed with high circulation items. This is a fairly popular idea. It is a kind of polemic. I don't see it as being exclusive, however. Having a massive collection often obscures what people want to read. Keeping books by Harvard University Press is as important as keeping Stephen King. In my mind, I think it is possible to expand the core material in a library to 20-40% of the library.
The second thing which goes with expanding the core collection is increasing the purchase of more practical material like computer books, career books, how to books, professional and technical books, and financial literacy books which have been missing from so many libraries for so long.
The New York Times now has a graphic novels bestseller list. I went through and ordered most of the graphic novels on the list today. http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/05/introducing-the-new-york-times-graphic-books-best-seller-lists/