Collection Development: The Want List

Sometimes we have a hard time categorizing our wants versus our needs in a school library. Put dollar signs in our eyes and the sky is the limit, we think. Until it happens.

It’s spring, the time of year when money has to be spent and budget categories emptied. The principal walks in and has $4000 left from a grant that must be spent by tomorrow noon and she is trusting you with that task. And suddenly you are paralyzed. You can’t think of a single item other than the next book in a popular series a student requested just this morning.

That’s when you could use that list of titles to be ordered that you don’t just want, but need for your students. The titles that you have had to put on a List because you didn’t have enough money. The Want List.

Keeping a Want List is simple in these days of vendor catalogs on databases. You can build an online list or even keep several lists by subject area and format while prioritizing each item. High priority items are filled first when you turn in an order.

Point: Realize that just because you keep a list on the vendor’s site doesn’t mean you can’t shop around for the best price for those resources. But hopefully you can choose vendors you trust and have used before because their services match your school’s needs.

What should go on your Want List? I would build a Want List in this order:
1. teacher requests
2. non-fiction topics that you could not fill when a research class needed them
3. popular fiction sequels and student requests
4. award winners and new topics in the news
5. new items you have marked for purchase from professional reviews

Spending a little time each month to add items from reviews and from patron requests will make your life easier when it comes time to spend money. (I suggest the last Friday of the month – tell your family you will be home late and everyone will be dining out!) You will be closer to spending to achieve the collection development goals you have chosen, rather than your own personal tastes.

Get your Want List up and ready. Because when spring comes, you don’t want to be paralyzed.

By Alan Cleaver from Whitehaven, United Kingdom (Spring daffodils) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Alan Cleaver from Whitehaven, United Kingdom (Spring daffodils) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Author: Karen Perry

Former school library media specialist. Reviewer. Online instructor for Old Dominion University and University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the school library program.

Categories: Blog Topics, Collection Development

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