by Annette DeFuso
One of the responsibilities I have as the Technical Services Director is to participate in collection development. More specifically, I select for purchase new adult fiction books in print for the library system. There are thousands of new novels published each year, and it can be challenging to keep up with what’s new and popular. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to help me with the task.
The library system has a collection development policy that guides all of our purchasing decisions to provide the best possible collection for our community. For our fiction collection, I mainly focus on buying bestselling, popular titles and fulfilling requests from our patrons. I select books across a variety of genres, including mystery, romance, inspirational, historical, science fiction, westerns, and thrillers. As you can imagine, historical fiction is especially popular here. I look for novels that tell stories representing the diverse cultures, communities, and people who make up our world.
I find out about new books by reading through several professional book review journals, including “Kirkus Reviews” and “Library Journal.” I browse through our vendors’ catalogs and websites announcing forthcoming titles, and I subscribe to publishers’ “book buzz” newsletters promoting their new releases. It’s also a good way to learn about debut authors and maybe purchase their books to see if they’ll find a new audience here.
Popular magazines such as “People” and “Good Housekeeping” have book recommendations and are good sources to find out what our patrons might be interested in reading. There are several national book clubs, such as those by Reese Witherspoon and “Good Morning America” that drive the popularity and sales of titles. I also follow major award announcements, such as the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and others to learn of winning titles to bring to our readers.
Sometimes older novels return to bestselling lists because of social media attention or because of a new movie or television adaptation. I try to keep an eye out for these suddenly trending titles that we’ll need to purchase if we don’t already own a copy. Suggestions from other staff members about what they’re reading or what patrons are asking about at the desk are also considered for purchase.
Thanks to advances in technology, it’s easier to find out about new and interesting books from around the world to bring to our readers. Our vendors now offer digital catalogs that make discovery and ordering a breeze. As much as I would like to buy almost every new title I hear about, just like for my home library, I’m limited by budget and space.
New fiction books remain on display in our libraries for six months, and then they are reshelved in the general fiction collection to make room for newer titles. General fiction books are also rotated and shared between our branches so that our shelves always have fresh titles to browse through. For titles that we don’t own or are out of print and not available to purchase, we offer free InterLibrary Loan (ILL) service to our patrons. There’s always something new waiting to be discovered at the library.
Annette DeFuso is Technical Services Director for the Adams County Library System.