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.


September 9, 2008

This Friday Oprah will be unleashing a new book club selection onto the world.  And you can order it now, but there’s no way of knowing what it is.  The mysterious Oprah Book Club #62 (as it appears on Amazon, Ingram, and Baker & Taylor) could be anything.

Now we placed an order for it today, figuring it’s better to be safe than sorry.  But it’s a bit of an issue when the item could be a new title, something we already own, fiction or non-fiction.  This is not how collection development ought to work.  For that matter it’s not how billing should work (what fund do we want to guess it should come out of).

But it’s Oprah, so what can you do.

Keeping Current with Comics

August 30, 2008

Yesterday I tried to remove whatever collection development credentials people thought I had.  But I did say that the one area of particular expertise I might actually possess is in comics.  So I figured I’d take a shot and do a batch of brief write ups on current comics libraries should be aware of.

Secret Invasion: For the past decade at least the Summer has been the time for large scale comics events and crossovers.  Actually for the past few years the events have all kind of blended together to the extent that some fans are complaining of event overload.  Secret Invasion is Marvel’s entry this year, and it concerns an alien invasion of shape shifters who have been posing undetected as some of Marvel’s most well known characters (in some cases for quite some time).  The book has received decent reviews overall and I’ve been enjoying it, but there are accessibility issues for those who haven’t been following the last few years worth of Marvel stories.  In the end it will probably prove more significant for the effect it has on the Marvel line to come than for the story itself.

Final Crisis: Final Crisis is DC’s answer to Secret Invasion.  It’s being marketed as the day evil won.  The writer on this one is Grant Morrison, a personal favorite but someone who’s more eccentric writing tendencies don’t always lead to clearly told stories.  Final Crisis has also suffered from poor editorial control (the story did not match up with many of the details from the books that led into it, including the death of a major character).  Again I fear it’s going to become essential reading because of its effects (notably the return of the Silver-Age Flash, Barry Allen) and not because of its own merits.

Final Crisis: the Legion of Three Worlds: The Legion of Three Worlds is a pseudo-spin-off of Final Crisis (because the worlds Final Crisis are in the title), and so far it’s shaping up to be far superior to its parent book.  The story, crafted by the workhorse Geoff Johns and drawn by George Perez at the top of his game, is an attempt to redefine the Legion of Superheroes, one of DC’s best loved but most muddled books.  Early reviews have uniformly praised the book and it is becoming a series I am greatly looking forward to the ending of.

Green Lantern: Another Geoff Johns book.  Johns relaunched Green Lantern a number of years ago now, bringing back classic ring bearer Hal Jordan and focusing on crafting a true mythology for the character.  Having succeeded at his initial goals he has worked to steadily up the ante on the action in the story.  Last year he gave us the Sinestro Corps War, in which a Universe wide battle broke out involving most of the villains from the biggest events in DC history.  Since that time he’s been steadily building to The Blackest Night, a story which probably has more buzz going for it than anything in comics at the moment (including the 2 current events).  Keep an eye out for it.

Batman: RIP: In a similar bit of character redefinition, Grant Morrison has been steadily working on a deconstructionist take on Batman for awhile now.  His run has met with mixed reviews so far, albeit with a few standouts to date (the League of Heroes collaboration with J.H. Williams was one of my favorite comics last year).  But the culmination of his approach to the character is in the current story arch, in which Bruce Wayne suffers a massive psychological break and all of the events that led to the creation of the Batman are thoroughly reexamined.  It’s been a riveting story and it seems pretty certain that the Batman coming out of it will be different than the one that went in to it.

The Punisher: Garth Ennis has just wrapped up what has been by far the best take on the Punisher in the character’s history.  Make no mistakes this is an adult comic, in which the Punisher is portrayed as a near mythical force of nature.  It it grim, it is tightly plotted, the art is gorgeous, and it left me never wanting to read another Punisher comic because everything else can’t help but come across as a disappointment after this.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8: Exactly what it sounds like.  Joss Whedon has reassembled a large portion of his writing staff from the classic show along with a number of comics writers with tv writing experience and has crafting a follow up season.  And it’s really good.  If you were a fan of the show or know someone who was make sure to pick up this book as it has lost none of what made the Buffy great to begin with.

The Umbrella Academy: Easily the most enjoyable comic last year.  My Chemical Romance’s front man Gerard Way has crafted an entirely original take on superhero comics (or is that dysfunctional family stories).  The art from Gabriel Ba is perfectly suited to the material (I don’t know of anyone else who could nail something like a robot zombie Gustave Eifle with such wild abandon).  The sequel launches next year.

Criminal: Criminal is a show case for Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips to tell the sort of crime stories they love.  Besides the story each issue (which have consistently been the most well crafted comic of each month) the comics contain a wealth of interviews, reviews, and letter columns concerning the history of the crime genre.  The book is nearly as good as a reference resource as it is for the stories.

Collections: The last few years have been a great time for collected editions.  Bookstores and libraries have opened up to nicely bound editions and the major publishers have been doing a great job of dusting off their back catalogs.  A few archival projects are of particular note.  DC has been republishing some great hardcover editions of James Robinson’s Starman, Grant Morrison’s JLA, and everything Jack Kirby did for them in the 70’s (The Fourth World Omnibus’ have a place of honor on my bookshelves).  Some other recent highlight are Image’s collections of Mike Allred’s Madman, Oni’s new editions of Greg Rucka’s Queen and Country, and another personal favorite, Marvel’s recently released omnibus edition of Howard the Duck (which really is an essential read, albeit a pricey one).

I’m a Collection Development Expert Now

August 29, 2008

I just found out that WebJunction has me listed as one of four blog resources for collection development.  I’m flattered, but I actually feel that that distinction is a bit inappropriate, and I don’t think that’s false modesty on my part.  Sure I’ve discussed the subject a few times, and I enjoy writing book reviews, but it is an aspect of tech services that I have no formal training in.

I can probably claim some expertise as a selector for graphic novels, but besides that all I have to go on are my own reading habits, which probably don’t make a great basis for building up anyone else’s collection.  Besides tons of comics I mostly read New Wave, Slipstream, and New Weird S.F., hard-boiled detective, and anything by either Haruki Murakami or M.T. Anderson.  All of which makes me a great selector as long as the target audience is solely the attendees at Readercon, but probably disqualifies me from anyone else.

Oh, and just to clear up some other confusion from WebJunction, I am a guy.