A Librarian Talks About Choosing Books to Buy

July 2010
by Abigail Goben

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One of the many functions of the public librarian is book purchasing. We are allocated a budget and spend a fair amount of time trying to build a collection that is well rounded, appeals to a wide variety of people, mixes great literature with popular novels, and will meet the needs of our community.

In this day and age of budget cuts and calls for fiscal responsibility, it is harder to get books into libraries. As we’re trimming ever-shrinking budgets, we librarians need to be able to justify the materials that tax dollars are being spent on. Libraries don’t have the resources to buy mediocre books, unless there is demand for the author or a classroom’s worth of children asking for it.

Still, we’re trying to make as much as we can available. Here’s how I do it.

Where I Find Books to Purchase

Professional reviews. I spend time diligently going through Library Journal, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and other professional review journals. Most of my selections are based on what I find there, and that’s probably what you’ll catch me perusing at the reference desk.

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