Choosing DVDs for the family

by Jess Shelleman

At Adams County Library System, we offer a large and varied collection that includes books and ebooks, audiobooks and e-audiobooks, DVDs, magazines, and many online resources. Rather than having a single employee take on the task of ordering materials for the entire system, the purchasing is split up between different branches and departments. At Littlestown Library, it is our responsibility to order juvenile DVDs and audiobooks for the entire system. Having worked for many years in a children’s library prior to becoming the Branch Manager in Littlestown, I have a love of children’s books, movies, and television shows, and I have so much fun ordering items to add to the collection and share with the community. Currently, the library system has over 6000 juvenile DVDs in the collection, spread out amongst all six branches, and we’re adding more every month.

So, how do we go about doing this massive task? We start with a wonderful website called Midwest Tape, the vendor from where we order our physical a/v materials. The site offers several tools to help libraries order items. When I’m putting together a new order, usually once a month, I start with the new release calendar to see if there’s anything interesting or noteworthy coming out soon that we should add to the collection. I always keep an eye out for new releases of popular series and characters, such as Barbie, Scooby-Doo, Disney, LEGO, Sesame Street, and Veggie Tales – basically anything that I know is popular amongst our families and will definitely get checked out. I also try to look for anything that may currently be in theaters. It may not be on the release calendar for a few months, but we often try to order these early, that way, we can get them into our collection as soon as they’re released. As soon as an item is ordered, a record is created in our catalog, which means our patrons can place a hold on the item, even months before we receive it!

After adding the popular must-have DVDs, I look at the items that look interesting. Some of the items I’ve never heard of before, so I have to do a little more research. I read the descriptions, check out the publisher, and sometimes even see if I can find clips on YouTube. There are not often reviews done on children’s DVDs, but I try to find and read them if they exist. We purchase animated as well as live-action DVDs; tv shows, and movies. If I think families will enjoy and learn from it, I’ll add it.

We try to keep our collections varied, so I make sure to add both fiction and nonfiction items. Highlights, well-known and respected for their magazines, has a wonderful collection of DVDs on many subjects. History Kids and Science Kids offer information on engaging and sometimes serious topics, delivered in an age-appropriate format. I also make sure to purchase DVDs on language learning, numbers and math, alphabet and phonics, and fitness. I try to fill in areas where we may be lacking or where I see a need. 

And of course, we can’t forget about the holidays! New holiday DVDs come out every year, and we make sure to order them in advance so they’re ready to be checked out for your celebratory needs.

Is there a DVD you’d like us to add to our collection? Or is there a subject area where you think we need to add more? We’re always taking suggestions. Simply click on this link (, or contact me directly at

Jess Shelleman is Branch Manager at the Littlestown Branch of the Adams County Public Library.

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