Top 12 Ways to be a BAD Selector - Part 1
We all have areas that we need to improve on in our work as selectors, de-selectors and collection strengtheners. Are these some of your problem areas or models that management or co-workers expect for your department?
1. Only buy new material; don't bother with replacements or building or strengthening weak areas of the collection. The easiest thing in the world is to get excited and order all the new goodies published and buzzed about. It's sloggy work to go back to fill in holes in the collection and seek out areas that need a boost. But it is this work that the development in collection development is all about. Building a collection is more than the new - it's also creating depth and breadth - which often means researching and buying slightly older titles, buying duplicates for heavily used items, and filling in series and collections where titles have been lost or damaged.
2. Make sure to ignore books with diverse characters and cultures since "no one like that lives here." Quit it. We live in a global society with a rainbow of faces, cultures and creeds. Having books that represent this diversity is a non-negotiable essential. Every book doesn't have to fly off the shelf but it needs to be there so children can not just find themselves but also know there are many people in our world that have lives different - yet similar- to their own.
3. Never buy non-fiction paperbacks or any paperbacks for that matter- those skinny spines are hard to label and they won't last. The great majority of children's books published are not classics. Oops! Sorry. I said it. How long do you need a book on a popular but ephemeral character to last? If you need as many dog or dinosaur books as humanly possibly, why not add additional paperback copies to stretch your budget? If you can buy three books for the price of one (or for some series non-fiction five-seven books), and you only need that character/subject concentration for three-five years, what's the hold-up? Paperbacks can strengthen your collection - for all ages, fiction and non-fiction - and provide needed materials. And I have a secret to share: non-fiction books in general circ far more slowly than other parts of your collection. Non-fiction paperbacks in areas that get only occasional use can stand up and last as long as a hardcover in terms of currency and use by kids.
4. Don't read, skim or listen to the new material to get more familiar with it. Buy it and be done with it. Or try a better idea: get to know the material beyond the review. Page through it quickly before it goes out to familiarize yourself with it. Listen to it on your work commute. Read it at home. Join or establish a youth book club to discuss books. Librarians who actually know the material are those reader advisors that all the kids seek out. Actually knowing books and non-print means passion, knowledge and the ability to truly connect the right kid with the right book.
5. Buy lots of pre-bound and library binding books - kids are so hard on books. Perhaps, but in every age collection? Picture book as well as chapter books as well as non-fiction? Pre-bounds are simply paperbacks with a armor-plated covers. Almost all chapter books are printed on the most acidy-barely-above-newsprint paper known to publishers. The pages disintegrate decades before the covers go. Picture books and wildly popular non-fiction books do take a beating. You might justify the added expense since, because of their illustrations, they are printed on higher quality paper. But how long do you need that book to last given the ever-changing needs of readers. Pre-bounds and library bindings add expense. Can your budget really stand it?
6. Accept "preview packs" or pre-selected books. The job of most cold call salespeople on these things is to get you to accept the whole package of often marginal or remaindered stock. Most of what you see won't be worth it. And the pressure to accept all the contents (better discount!) rather than re-package and send back the unwanted selections is high. We all have better selection skills than this no matter how busy we are.
The next post will continue along this sorry path of poor selection ideas. Stay tuned!
Graphic courtesy of Pixabay