Let’s Talk Collection Development!

Even though we’re back in school, our library budget money won’t be distributed to us until December. We can’t change this timeline, so we’ve tried to make the best of it by using the first few months of school to really talk to staff and students about what type of books or other materials they’d like to see in the library. We’ve always been open to suggestions, but the timing has to be right for us to add items to an order. Otherwise, the request has to wait until we have funds to make another order, which could be in a week or six months.

I love collection development, but sometimes when I talk about it with other teachers I feel like all they hear is Old lady librarian going on about card catalogs or some nonsense. I know other school librarians get excited about collection development, but in some schools it’s almost taboo to talk about buying books. People wonder why you wouldn’t buy more computers or iPads.

Even though technology can be awesome, we’re still buying books and expanding in specific areas. In my opinion this is one of the best parts of being a school librarian.

We’ve chosen to expand in 3 main ares, and concentrate on replenishing books in a series.

Contemporary Classics. Several ELA teachers in our school do novel studies. They used to require students to read traditional classics from the 1800s, but now they have opened up the parameters to include more contemporary works like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m especially excited about this, because now I can promote Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier as an option. Despite being published in 1938, Rebecca would have been too “new” under the old standards. We already have some of these titles, but we were always hesitant to order more since students weren’t able to use them for novel studies.

Diversity is always a priority, and we’ve been able to easily expand our collection regarding different ethnicities and disabilities. We’ve been a little unsure on how to proceed with LGBQT books. We have several titles, but many of the more popular titles are suggested for high school readers. We’re looking for more books featuring LGBQT characters and storylines focusing on personal development and middle school appropriate relationships. Finding books that are both authentic in addressing sexuality AND suitable for middle school can be tricky.

Missing Books. It seems like we are missing several first-books in a series. Who wants to start a series on the second book? Graphic fiction has been hit especially hard by this epidemic. There are several series with 5 or more books going untouched because we don’t have book one. Unfortunately, many of the graphic series books are hard to replace. We are looking to see if other libraries in our district have specific book one’s that we can borrow and making placeholders for those book on the shelves.

Anyone else doing targeted collection development this year? I would love some recommendations for LGBQT and Informational Text titles. These genres seem geared to being pulled and placed on a cart or shelf for the year. Has anyone done any long-term temporary genre-shelving? We’re considering trying it this year.

Author: Mica Johnson

I’m a school librarian at Farragut Middle. I like the lib to be loud, messy, and full of student activity. I love tech stuff as much as I love books, and I’m part of an awesome rotating maker space.

Categories: Blog Topics, Collection Development

2 replies

  1. We do targeted collection development on OverDrive. When we were doing Kindles in the Classroom with Buffy Hamilton (the Unquiet Librarian), we discovered that most students are more comfortable reading controversial or below grade level books digitally. I wrote about our journey in my Knowledge Quest blog.


    Also the CDE Recommended Literature List now contains inclusive titles and is open to all.


  2. Kate,

    Our ebook situation is kind of a mess. Our system went with one company, and then added another company. Kids had a hard time navigating the apps, but if they finally got everything to work, they seemed genuinely stoked that they: a) figured it all out and b) got a book to read.
    Since you mentioned OverDrive though, we’re going to look into it.

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