November 18th, 2008 Brian Herzog
Personnel changes at my library are changing the way we do collection development. So for the past couple weeks, I've been thinking about how to incorporate more review-reading and book selection into my workday.
Since this has been on my mind, I had two slightly unusual ideas for potential ways to supplement more traditional selection.
Selection via LibraryThing Early Reviewers
I've been a part of the LibraryThing.com Early Reviewers program since it started (if you haven't, and enjoy reading, it's worth checking out). I've used this as a resource for new books for awhile, but something I noticed recently was that the books I like often had the most requests.
My idea was for Tim to whip together one of his useful tools, so that librarians (or anyone who signed up) could receive an email (or rss feed) each month after the list has closed, with the title of each book, how many requests it got, and also a link to LibraryThing or Amazon. My logic was that if a book appears popular with LibraryThing'ers, there's a good chance it will also be popular in my library.
I wrote to Tim and asked him about this just a couple days ago, and I'm hoping for a positive response. But if you like the idea, contact LibraryThing and ask them to implement it. Lobbying like this is probably the last thing he wants, but I do think this could be a valuable and unique selection tool.
Selection via Universal Medical Database
For awhile now there's been talk about the government and hospitals trying to start a single database of health information of every American.
The pros are that it'd be easier for a doctor anywhere in the country to access someone's medical history in an emergency, and it could also prevent conflicting medications and stop people shopping around for prescription narcotics. Drawbacks of the idea are that it potentially leaves people open to an invasion of privacy, or allows employers and others to discriminate based on medical conditions.
What does this have to do with libraries? It occurred to me that if such a universal system ever were put in place, it could potentially be used to help improve a library's collection of medical books. If real-time statistics could be provided on what conditions and illnesses were prevalent in a particular community, the library could use that information to make sure it had books and information on those topics.
Not that either of these might ever come to pass, and they both have a very big-brothery feel to them. These ideas are just some idle speculation on alternative selection tools to supplement traditional methods.
February 23rd, 2008 Brian Herzog
I know I said I wasn’t going to post anything this weekend, but I’ve heard a lot of talk about this and wanted to help disseminate:
Libraries get solicitations and purchase suggestions all the time. A few times a week I’ll get emails from authors or publishers, asking us to buy their books, or from patrons, asking us to buy a book they want to read or that would be a good addition to our collection.
But this week, I (and many other librarians, it turns out) got a cross-over: a message from someone apparently posing as a patron.
I am not providing links out of sheer irritation, and I won’t publish the person’s “name” for privacy reasons, but the email came from someone with the initials M.T., and the text of the message read:
Hi there -
I was searching in the library and trying to find the book [title] by [author], ISBN [isbn] and did not find it.
I heard about it on NPR, BBC America and saw it on Amazon and the author's website at narcissism.ca.
Will you be getting a copy in soon?
With requests like this, I always check our catalog to see if the book is available from another library in my consortium, and I look up the patron to place them hold for it. But this time, I found neither the book nor anyone by this name in our system. But I did read about it on Amazon, so I replied:
This does look like and interesting book, so I'd be happy to order it for our collection. I searched for your name in our catalog to place you on reserve for it when it arrives, but did not find a [patron name] listed.
If you can email back your library card number, I'll be sure you are first on the list when the book arrives. Thanks for the suggestion, and take care.
Head of Reference
Chelmsford Public Library
I then got a message back saying "Hi Brian - I just moved. I'll be down soon to get my card."
That's when I started seeing other libraries asking about this strange request. I wrote back saying that when they came to get a card, to come to the reference desk and I'll order the book then. I haven't heard anything back.
So, any library getting a similar request can probably safely ignore it, as it is a dishonest sales pitch. It sounds like most library book vendors don't have it, anyway.
July 24th, 2007 Brian Herzog
I was passing through my library's Technical Services area [?], and the "to be catalogued" shelf caught my eye.
Featured in the photograph here, the titles really struck me as a very accurate cross-section of a modern library's collection. Not only do we have popular/genre fiction (Kilt Dead and Rashi's Daughters), but also represented are the classics (The Odyssey - 2 copies!), up-to-date technology (Ubuntu Unleashed), and social minorities in our community (A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples).
Not that this is unique to my library, but it did make me happy. There're at least six of us responsible for selecting books for the adult collection, and it's nice to know that, even without direct coordination, we're building a well-rounded collection.
It also reminds me that having a solid collection is at least as important as how you organize it; the books need to be there in the first place before better signage or search engines will have an impact.
collection, collection development, libraries, library, public libraries, public library, purchasing, selection