Friday, September 16, 2011

Spending Those Precious $$

I've been thinking about the collection development instructions I learned in grad school compared to making those decisions in my own library. I was very prepared to follow policy manuals, but I am not referring to those guidelines on purchasing. I am thinking about choosing the best books with a limited budget. I want every dollar to count. During these tough budget times I know many other librarians that have a $0 budget for books. Book fair profits or other fundraisers are the only sources for purchasing books. This article in Library Media Connections provides several excellent suggestions for managing during tough times. Luckily I do receive a fair book budget, but I want to spend it wisely. I have been spending the majority of my book funds on fiction. When I started last year I knew I really needed to update our collection. Fiction circulates the most and few teachers use our nonfiction books for class projects or activities. Have you noticed this in your own library?
There are nonfiction areas that I have allotted funds to beef up including Cars, Supernatural, Cooking and Sports. I have also purchased high interest titles like record books, "Would you rather" books, and books on survival. For some reason my kids are really into gross food so I purchased a few titles like "100 Most Disgusting" and "Yuck: The Things People Eat".

Students and teachers often ask me how I know what to buy. Here are a few places I get ideas:
How do you decide what to buy? Where do you get ideas? Is there a blog you trust? or someone you follow on Twitter or Goodreads that recommends great books? I would love to hear what other librarians use to make decisions about spending those precious $$.


  1. Honored to be listed above! Thank you!

    I actually do YA collection development for a public library and I use a lot of the same sources as you (though am glad to get some other new ideas from your list too!).

    Another blog that I really love is Stacked ( - three librarians, eclectic and well-written reviews.

    And I co-host a radio show once a week with three 10-11 year olds who are avid readers and give me a lot of great suggestions!

    p.s. I love Trapped!

  2. oh and Reading Rants! Do you read Reading Rants? Great reviews and book lists!

  3. @Em Thanks so much. Just subscribed to both of those. You rock, girl!

  4. Tamara, while I don't have a zero budget, I do have an extremely limited budget. I, too, spend the bulk on fiction with the rest on the 700s (graphic novels, sports, & entertainment.) I will confess that while I do look thru review journals, I don't rely on them for my purchases. The past 3 years I've bought 90% of my books from bargain tables at chain stores (Books-a-Million primarily) as they have such great deals. I just buy whatever seems to circulate the most - as I've observed and/or been requested to obtain by my kids. I'm amazed at how quickly the books move from full price to bargain - some less than 6 months from when they were released!

    Oh, and I recommend if you haven't already, that you join the YALSA-BK listserv. They share lots of wonderful booklists and have great discussions on new and forthcoming books.

  5. Thanks for sharing these great resources! I took a look at Story Snoops and immediately subscribed to their blog. (And I'm totally stealing their snippet-of-the-week idea to use with my students!)

    I'm one of those people with $0 for books, but I do have one budget loophole that lets me get books in a sneaky way: I have a Periodicals account with a few hundred dollars in it, so one of my "subscriptions" is to Junior Library Guild.

    Two blogs I like are Fuse #8 for book reviews and news from the children's lit world ( and Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for beautifully illustrated posts for beautifully illustrated books (

    I also attend the Scholastic Book Warehouse sale (in Columbia SC) each year in December - all their books are at least half off, and the selection is incredible!