From circling books to a deep dive 

by Robyn Woods

When I was a kid, we would get the Scholastic catalog to take home.  This paper catalog had all of the new scholastic books that were available to be ordered.  I would sit at home and circle all the books that I wanted. My mom would then go through the titles and pick out a couple to buy. I would then get a little envelope with the small order slip to give to my teacher.  I would take such good care of the envelope until I could return it to school.  Then, just a few weeks later, the new books would arrive, and I was elated to see them and bring them home. 

My process as a librarian is actually pretty similar. Here at the library, I get the Kirkus review to review books and read about them before I purchase them.  This is certainly a much longer process than just circling books from a catalog, but it is a necessary step to make sure that I am buying quality books for the library.  I also reference The School Library Journal as it is full of information about new books, including what is popular with kids of all ages. Anyone who is around me when new books come in knows that I still have an animated enthusiasm when I look at the new books, just like I did when I was a kid. 

Collection maintenance is an important part of being a librarian.  While it doesn’t sound thrilling, it is one of the best parts of being a librarian.  But with new books also come replacements.

There are many ways in which a book can get damaged.  It can be used as a coaster, have ripped pages, or be left in the rain. When it is time to say goodbye to a well-loved book, I can re-order it so that it can be enjoyed for generations to come. 

When ordering new books, I do my best to keep up with our ever-changing world. When I purchase non-fiction books, I pick the most recent titles with up-to-date information. With fiction titles, I look at what kids are interested in today.  This includes books with characters from the latest popular Disney movie or Netflix show. When there is a series that I am constantly asked for, such as Magic Tree House, I always make sure to order the next book in the series.  I also include books with diverse characters and inclusive storylines. As much fun as I have selecting new materials, I do put a great deal of effort into making sure that children like what we have here, learn something, and are engaged in what they are reading.  It is delightful to see a book I picked out get taken home and, for a short time, be a part of someone’s world. 

Robyn Woods is Youth Services Librarian/Coordinator for the Adams County Library System

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