The Six Emotional Stages of Weeding a Teen Fiction Collection

For the last week, I have been weeding the teen fiction collection in preparation for 2016 and all of the wonderful books that haven’t been printed yet. As I do so, I find that I have some very conflicting emotions. Any of you who manage a print collection probably have experienced a similar roller coaster while weeding.

  1. First I feel glee! Finally! I will be able to fit all of the books on the shelf again and still have some space! They’ll also be in order because let’s face it, those teen volunteers do a good job at shelf reading but there’s nothing like a librarian’s over-sensitive eye to put books in their place. It’s going to look nice and clean and organized like it hasn’t for a few months.
  2. Then I feel fear. What if I’m about to weed a book I shouldn’t. Maybe it’s going to show up on the high school reading list! Maybe they’ll turn it into a movie or a tv show and people are going to be demanding copies of the book to read. What if this book right here is the next [enter super popular YA title here] and i’m making a terrible mistake?!
  3. And then it’s on to rationality. Well, if it was going to be a sensation, chances are it would have happened earlier on. I mean, this book was published in 2008. What’s the likelihood it’ll kick off now? And really, how many copies of The Hunger Games do we really need?
  4. And then it’s back to smug happiness. Look how pretty the shelves are all organized and orderly and with room to spare. It makes the teen area look bigger somehow.
  5. And then fear again. Are people going to look at the shelves now and start to ask where all the books went? We already have those people who tell us that the world is coming to an end because ebooks are the downfall of all humanity and blah blah blah. Will they take this as the harbinger of doom and start demanding that the libraries do this or that or the other to counteract the scourge of the ereader?
  6. And then I just feel fine because I’m a librarian and this is what I am good at. I nurture my collection to reflect the community I serve and as tastes and interests change, so do the items on the shelf. I listen to my community and I am confident that my decisions are in accordance with their needs and interests.

Confidence wins! And the teen space really does look nicer this way. I should do this more often.

Internship Day 13

Today I was on the front reference desk with Heather again. While the reference desk was slow, she was teaching me about her methods of collection development. Heather is the librarian in charge of the children’s picture books. She is probably the only librarian in the library who actually has the chance to read all of the books she is considering for the collection before she adds them. Picture books are much shorter than most other books, after all.

She begins by reading reviews of picture books in several places: BWI Books, Amazon, Hennepin County Library, Baker and Taylor’s Growing Minds Collection catalog, and Barnes and Noble just to name a few. Amazon and Barnes and Noble are good resources to find out what the public is buying, because that’s usually what they want to read. Heather then compiles a list of possible titles and searches the county catalog to see if other libraries in the area have the book. She then borrows the books from the other libraries and reads them. When choosing a book to add to the collection she evaluates the story, the art, early literacy skill development, entertainment, readability, and ease of language (because if you can’t read it aloud fluidly, then it’s probably not using good language).

I also learned that it’s ok to think of books as ‘for boys’ or ‘for girls’ because there is an actual biological difference in the learning process for boys and girls. So it’s really good to buy books that are targeted for boys!

Some of the things I’ve learned from Heather today, I’m going to apply to the board books I’ve chose for the early literacy kits. I will reevaluate my choices using her criteria.

I also had a short half hour meeting with Susan Considine, the Executive Director of the Fayetteville Free Library, about my internship. She didn’t know a lot about what I’ve been doing, so I got to explain what I have done and what the final goals are. I think she’s glad I’m so excited about what I’m doing. But really, reading board books and drawing pictures is probably the best homework I’ve had since kindergarden. How could I not be enjoying myself!? When I told her I was also working with Karen and Leah on revamping the early literacy webpage, she was impressed. We concluded the meeting by scheduling another one in November for me to teach her the basics of social media since it came out that I was really interested in using social media in libraries. Yay!!

(reference internship hours completed: 32 of 75)

Internship Day 10

It was another full day at the library. For about three hours I researched children’s music to put in each early literacy kit. Normally, I’m not a fan of children’s music. Especially the kind that has children singing. But I had a lot of fun looking for good kids music that wouldn’t be annoying for parents. First I searched around on CDBaby, which despite the name is not just music for babies. They have independent music for all ages. I really liked listening to the previews for the albums, it gives you an opportunity to decide if the music is catchy, age-appropriate, and entertaining. I found myself making a mental list of music I can send to my almost one-year old niece along with the music for the literacy kits. I especially liked Sing Along! by Caspar Babypants. I also did some searching in the iTunes catalog for some ideas since you can usually preview the songs in iTunes as well. I really liked all three volumes of Music Is Awesome from the TV show Yo Gabba Gabba.

Then I had a few meetings before joining Monica at the Reference desk again to work on the reference and nonfiction collection project. I got through a few more pages of continuous orders (books we automatically order when there is a new one out). It took a little while to compare all of the Walt Disney World travel guides, but I now know which one I would want to take with me if I go back again. I am also making recommendations for which titles to continue and which to cancel. It’s more difficult than you might think. I’m comparing the catalog of how many copies of a certain title are in the county system, how often they circulate, how much they cost, how they compare to our databases and free web-based information sources, with how many other titles we have on the same topic. SO many variables. But it is interesting, I get drawn into the comparisons and am really getting to know the collection well.

(reference internship hours completed: 22 of 75)
(YS internship hours completed: 21 of 75)

Internship Day 8

I should probably think of a new way of titling these internship posts. Then again, it will be interesting to see how many days I end up with. Anyways, today I was on the reference desk for 4 hours with Monica. As a result of some internal restructuring and new allocation of library departments, Monica is the new ReferenceDirector of Reference Services and librarian in charge of the nonfiction section. As such, she is now in charge of the remaining 57 hours of the reference portion of my internship. In order to give me a better understanding of what librarians do, she’s allowing me to assist her on a project to reevaluate all of the library’s reference resources, print and electronic. She’s starting me with the reference books that are on automatic order such that when a new version comes out, we get the new volume (like Guinness Book of World Records, exam prep guides, almanacs, etc). I looked at about 30 books today comparing them to our online databases and free online resources to see if they are redundant. I’m excited to be part of this project because I’m going to be learning about an important part of collection development and assessment.

(reference internship hours completed: 18 of 75)

Phase One Complete

Stacks of nonfiction books waiting to be processed during the move to Dewey-free.

In the ongoing move to a Dewey-free nonfiction collection, the first part of the project is completed. All of the nonfiction books were removed from their shelves and organized by topic. About a third of the books have been put in new record sets according to topic. Here’s the temporary workstation where I was processing today. The stacks are also being rearranged to make use of the maximum amount of light possible. Today they got taken down and the base frames were reassembled in the new orientation. Tomorrow I imagine the shelves will be replaced and perhaps some of the processed topic sets will be shelved. I’m really excited to see what the final product will look like.

Do you Dewey?

Today, the library where I work began a (hopefully) week-long project to transition our nonfiction collection to a Dewey-free layout. First, all of the books need to be removed from the shelves and sorted by topic. We will affix stickers on the spines of each book identifying the topic and update the library catalog with the new information. Then, the shelves are being moved to maximize the lighting. Finally, we will begin the process of re-shelving the books accordingly. Today, we took down about half of the collection, sorting as we go, and tomorrow we will hopefully finish that first phase.

I am interested to see how it all turns out. I’ve heard of Dewey-free libraries but I have never seen one myself. I think it is a great move in terms of patron usability. Browsing will be easier and the topic groupings will be more intuitive than Dewey’s designations. And when searching for a particular book, the library catalog will still be able to direct patrons to the specific place they need to look.

Does your library do Dewey?