I am officially in my summer vacation! Hooray!
The end of the school year means prepping for the next school year, which, for me, means getting my book order in, well, order. I thought authors and other folks might be interested in how at least one librarian makes those decisions.
Through out the year, I read the professional journals like Booklist and VOYA and keep a running list of titles that sound good to me. I note the price and the review source. If a book is reviewed in more than one place, I try to keep note of that, too. I also consult what might be called the popular press like The New York Times and, um, People.
I am looking for fiction that seems in line with what has been popular, current trends, etc. I work in a high school, and need books at reading levels from about second or third grade up through, well, off the charts. I need books to entice kids who have at some point in their lives decided they hated reading. And I need new and exciting books for kids who have read every book in the library.
For nonfiction I need all of the above plus in support of the curriculum. Actually, I need fiction to go along with the curriculum, too (historical fiction for social studies, sci fi for the science classes, etc.). Since nonfiction is often more popular with boys, I’m also looking for high interest titles for the students to choose for free reads.
I also have to add in extra copies of very popular books and books that seem to walk away. (If Ellen Hopkins could send me her backlist every year, that would be awesome. Also any books by or about Kurt Cobain or Tupac Shakur would be more than welcome.)
So then I get to the end of the year. This year I had about 600 fiction books and 400 nonfiction. This was more than I have money for, of course, so the cutting comes. This is impossibly hard. Luckily, I only had to cut a little from my fiction this year. But still, I have to ask myself, “Do I take a chance on the new author, or go with the bestseller even though the reviews are only so-so?” Of course this question has particular resonance for me, but I only need to look at my shelves to see books that have never gone out, still shiny in their plastic covers.
The nonfiction was really hard because it was coming down to choices between the “fun” stuff and the curricular stuff. We are making a real literacy push so those high-interest books are essential. But so are the books that faculty requested for their classes.
I did get it all done after two straight days of work. I may make some more changes over the summer. Then I put my order in just before school starts. Several hundred books show up a couple of weeks later, shiny and new. Which brings up another point: like most school librarians, I think, I tend to make a HUGE purchase in the fall because I don’t want a budget freeze to steal my budget. Sometimes I can make a couple of small orders later in the year, but the general philosophy seems to be to spend it while you know you have it.
So there you go, a year’s worth of work crammed into a blog post.