Collection development in public libraries is an art and a science. One of the things that differentiates a library from a retail bookshop is that all the books within its walls are chosen by librarians. Someone had to make the decision to purchase every item in the library. Imagine – hundreds of thousands of items hand selected for the patrons that the library serves. Pretty amazing.
However, because of this hand selection of titles, one of the most difficult things to do is to manage a growing collection through weeding. Thankfully, there are tools such as Fiction Core Collection that make selection a bit easier. But, no resource is perfect and there is more to the management of a collection than just what is listed in a reference book as well. So, what is a librarian to do?
I make it a habit to scan the inside covers of the books slated for weeding. Yes, every one of them. From experience with the community, I can tell which will circulate and which will not. For those where it is obvious it is a hidden gem, I put the books up front for display. I have not been disappointed by the response of patrons who happily check them out.
Think about giving your books a second chance – if you think the story is a good one, chances are someone else will too. People shop displays all the time. If you have a display of good stories that captivated you when you read the cover, the same could be true for patrons looking for a preselected group of stories that they can take.
People love stories, librarians jobs are to show them where the hidden ones are that they may like. For those who never saw a book they did not like, this is a way to ensure that the stories have a second chance to be read. If you do try this, please hop on over to our forum and tell me how it went. I would be interested to know if other librarians have the same experience that I have with mining the hidden gems out of your collections and into the hands of patrons.
If you are not a librarian, but a library user, does your library do this? Is it effective? Have you found stories that you have loved from random browsing of displays? Comments are always appreciated.