As I type this, there are roughly 14,000 items owned by Griffin Free Public Library (and, by extension, you – if you live in Auburn!). Using this collection remains the most common reason for people to visit the library. Even if you do not use the collection, it probably still holds a great deal of importance in how you picture us: think about your mental image of “library”. Did you picture a building with a lot of shelves that hold a lot of books? That’s an image that remains pretty solid, even in the minds of younger library users.
So I felt it might be interesting to some of you to share what goes into building the collection of materials that make up the library. Here’s the story:
The Griffin Free Public Library collection is built in a variety of ways. The bulk of our new materials come from purchases. Different members of staff are responsible for different areas of the collection, and funds are budgeted according to popularity of sections and areas of need.
To stretch your dollars, we purchase most of our print materials from a library book vendor where we receive a steep discount negotiated on our behalf by the NH State Library. Audiovisual materials (DVDs and audiobooks) are purchased from other vendors who specialize in providing those materials to libraries. We choose our materials based on what is popular and what is receiving good reviews and public notice (such as being heavily advertised or winning awards). Additionally, we make every effort to have books on a large variety of topics (although not every topic) and that appeal to a wide range of tastes and audiences.
In buying new materials, we focus on trying to have as many of the most popular titles available as we can. So if you are looking for a best-seller, or a new book by a popular author, you should be able to get it here in most cases.
In certain areas, we may also focus on other goals. For instance, in buying non-fiction for children, we want to be sure to have the types of books that are required for school projects and that are in high-interest areas. These are often not best-sellers, but are important. We also try to maintain a good selection of classic books in all areas, and keep our eye on good deals for popular older movies and TV series on DVD. We also focus on biographies, young adult books, picture books, and non-fiction for adults.
We supplement our purchases with some donations. However, due to the size of our building and the space on our shelves, we take only a select few things from donations to keep in the library. Since we buy most best-sellers and popular authors, those books are generally only kept when we need to replace a copy that is missing or in bad shape. We also occasionally keep audiovisual materials that are donated, and some children’s books.
New items are purchased monthly in almost every category in the library. In some cases, such as DVDs and magazines, new items are received every week.
In order to accommodate all of these new items, we “weed” from most sections of the library on a yearly or every-other-year basis. This involves reviewing which items are being used, are in good shape, and are still accurate (in the case of non-fiction). Items that are not being used or that have other problems are removed from the collection and put into our book sale. This gives us room for all the great new items we are purchasing!
As a result of the efforts of our staff, we have a collection that we are proud of, and that we feel meets the needs of our users. When we do not have an item, we have an active Interlibrary Loan service that we can usually get it from. And in many cases, we are able to purchase new items requested by you, that were not purchased during our initial rounds.
I hope this article will help you understand all the work that goes into building the Griffin Free collection. If you have suggestions or questions, please let me know. Otherwise, keep enjoying the collection and thank you for being a part of Griffin Free!