Posted tagged ‘collection development’

On Video Games

September 29, 2009

Over the last few days I’ve had a few people ask me about possibly building a circulating video game collection at my library.  And much to my surprise I’ve wound up as someone who is strongly against the concept.

I think games are great for libraries and I would love to start this collection, but I just think this is a really awful time for us to do so.  After budget cuts our YA, DVD, and music budgets are nearly non-existant, so why do games rate over those?

I think the answer is because they’ve suddenly become trendy in the profession.  Every conference includes a game night, every mailing list has a games thread, and every issue of American Libraries seems to have an article on the subject.  So now games are important, although many of the librarians who have been given this belief don’t really know much about them.  Over the last few days I’ve had to explain the differences between the multiple consoles, that our standard vendors (with the exception of Amazon) don’t really carry them, and that the average gamer is 35 and not 8.  

There’s also the logistical side of things.  I spend an enormous amount of time testing out a/v items for damange.  To do that for games we would need one of each console unless I start taking work home with me (which is hardly ideal).  Somehow I don’t see the money for this coming our way in the near future.

So building a games collection for now is bad, but I’m still looking forward to our Rock Band night tomorrow.

Against My Wishes

August 5, 2009

I was recently asked if I’d be interested in sitting down with our circ and childrens librarians to discuss the possibility of building a video game collection at my library.  The answer was yes of course, so I’m greatly looking forward to that discussion.

However, as much as I might love the idea of us having such a collection, I’m having a very hard time building up a good case for why we should have one at this moment.  That really hurts to admit, but I can’t argue with the budget.  Our collection development budget was recently gutted and we’ve lost hours to our YA department.  We also desperately need to upgrade our public computers.  So as much as it pains me I would much rather have those things before allocating money towards a games collection.

And beyond that there’s the logistics issues.  In order to support such a collection, we need more consoles, even if just for the purposes of testing discs to make sure they work.  We have a Wii for our Rock Band/DDR events, but that’s it (maybe I could bring discs home to try out on my xbox if necessary).  I think getting a game collection would also finally push us to the point of needing a disc repair machine, which would cost a few grand.  We seem to be the only library without one now a days, but I’ve run the numbers a few times and its never been cost effective for us to have one previously.

Maybe I’m just being pessimistic, but I don’t think this is the time.  Thoughts?

Comics Redux

June 18, 2009

Our comics collection seems to be the issue that never dies (granted some of that is my fault).  Up until now we’ve kept them solely in our YA department, and until recently in the damn 741.5 call # that I hate so much.  Well we just ordered this summer’s high school reading lists and found Watchmen and the first volume of the Sandman on it (which is very cool, and actually also Jonathan Lethem’s underated Omega the Unknown was also on the list, but that one doesn’t pose any difficulties).

These books got us thinking about age appropriateness.  Our YA collection is intended for ages 12-18, which is quite a range.  No one has any problem giving these books to someone in high school.  But the 24 hours story from the Sandman might be a bit much for a 12 year old (although that’s when I first read it).

So after a lot of discussion we decided to move these to the adult collection, but not just because of the potential obscenity issue.  Up until now our adult comic collection consisted of 2 books, Persepolis and Jimmy Corrigan.  Now we’re starting to look at building a real collection for so called “mature” comics readers.  We looked through our YA collection and pulled out a few other books that could potentially be deemed inappropriate to someone with the right mindset.  But we also grabbed a few whose subject matter simply might be of more interest to an adult audience (A Contract with God, In the Shadow of No Towers, the Golem’s Mighty Swing).

Many of these decisions were slightly arbitrary, but they also serve a purpose.  We now have just enough books to fill up a whole shelf in one of our more prominent locations.  This gives us enough to promote them as being a new collection, one that we now intend to build upon.  It’s a round about way to get to that point, but at least we made it there.

The Mark of Success

May 27, 2009

Yesterday I had the latest round in a series of discussions with a colleague about the poor quality of modern book bindings.  In particular this person is resistant towards purchasing materials for the library that have shown a marked tendancy to fall apart in the past.

This is a poor argument for a number of reasons, but I never seem to have much success at countering it with this person.  So here’s my case:

1) We have a part time staff member whose primary responsibility is to mend books, and she’s very good at it.

2) In the event that items can’t be repaired, they can certainly be replaced.  Books with cheap bindings have those bindings because they are cheap.  We can afford them.

3) Most importantly, books that fall apart from use is a great thing, it means they’re being read!  Buying one, cheap, book that circulates 15 times then dies is far better than purchasing a book with a binding that  costs 3 times as much but only goes out half as often.  

4) Longevity isn’t really meaningful to us as most books go out of date before they rot, and yes that can go for popular fiction as well as non-fiction.

This all makes sense, right?  Am I missing something that could build up my case?  Please let me know if you think so.

“Special” Collections

December 2, 2008

OK, I appologize for using finger quotes in the title.  

So, on special collections and cataloging.  I hate them with a passion.  I get why we have them (some of the time), but what it means for me is that for a relatively small number of items we’ve decided that the rules of cataloging do not apply.

Want to shelve items by title instead of author, we can do that.  Want to place books in the order they were received, we can do that too.  But we can’t make it make any logical sense!  I’m in the unfortunate predicament of having inherited about 2 dozen of these, and we’re currently consider a new one.  And in every case it make more problems (from the cataloging perspective) than it solves.  We have to figure out what should be included, how patrons should find items when meaningful call numbers are removed, how to gather circulation statistics in order to prove that these materials should continue to be treated differently.  

They just don’t work!

Righteous Anger

November 7, 2008

Got the new American Libraries today, not a bad issue.  One article stood out for me given the week.  Apparently Focus On the Family, a Colorado based Evangelical group has begun an anti-homosexual campaign targeting school libraries in Virginia.  Their methods have been one that has been increasing in popularity lately, bombard libraries with biased donated items.  We’ve been experiencing this lately coming from the Scientologists, and our book sale has been made the richer for it.

From the article it sounds like these libraries handled the situation perfectly by citing collection development policies and the lack of acceptable reviews for the items in question.  But of course I’m still bugged that groups keep trying these tactics under the guise of promoting tolerance (a rep from Focus On Families is quoted twice as saying that in a one page article).  

Now according to, here is the definition of tolerance:



a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

Attempting to sway the opinion of those who disagree with your own views, is pretty much the opposite of that definition.  Here endeth the lesson.


October 24, 2008

Just a bit of advice to my peers today.  When starting a massive (2 bookcarts a day for 3 months) weeding project, make sure you work out the logistics first.  In order to do this right:

1) Ensure that no one else is weeding simultaneously

2) Make sure you have enough book carts first or can at least spare the ones you have.

3) Make sure there is space in your book sale to handle the sudden influx.

4) If not, make sure you have enough trash cans, and that there’s someone on staff that can lift them when they are full of encyclopedias.