So Many Books, So Little Time

News Date: 
04 March 2014

So Many Books, So Little Time - Frank Zappa
The staff were anxiously standing outside the library, not sure what to do. Through the windows the mountains of books were piling up against the glass. The rumbling sound of the tumbling volumes was growing louder. “It’s going to explode, I think,” commented our Lithuanian associate. “You order too many books, Manager. There is no room for us or patrons. I’m going home now.” She turns to leave.

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It was a nightmare and I knew where the seeds of it had been planted ...

I lurch up into a sitting position in my bed, heart pounding, gasping for breath. It was a nightmare and I knew where the seeds of it had been planted: The Book Fair. Two times a year, Marigold Librarians are invited to listen to representatives from various publishing companies make their recommendations. At nine am the first rep deposited a pile of catalogues in front of each of us that was at least 18” high. “Let’s get started, shall we?” For the next two hours she flew with lightning speed through every catalogue pointing out the highlights and books we couldn’t possibly live without. Sometimes only two or three books in a collection of thousands got a mention. By the end of her session we have circled, ticked off or marked the books we want to order. Glassy-eyed we take a breath and the next rep sits down and it begins all over again. Welcome to Book Fair. Who knew there were so many books in the world or that looking at all those catalogues would be so overwhelming? How do you make an informed choice about what to order for the library? That’s the challenge to which book reps rise. They can often predict what books will be in demand or determine what the next hot craze or trend will be. (Move over Vampires, apparently Mutant Mermaids are on the rise). Never the less, it all seems quite daunting. Even if the library budget allowed the purchase of every book that was published, where would we put them all? (Cue: nightmare) Of course, we don’t have to buy every book out there, or even every book in a series because of our access to resource-sharing through TRAC (The Regional Automation Consortium). As a member of the Marigold System, Sheep River Library patrons have access to the items in over 160 libraries in four library systems within Alberta. A simple click of the mouse puts these items on hold for you and they are delivered by the Marigold delivery van to our library twice a week. What about items which are not available on TRAC or are of a more academic nature? Never fear, through our inter-library-loan department (Gita, the aforementioned Lithuanian) we can find and bring in most of these books, although it may take a little longer. Although we can locate items at other libraries, we do work hard at building a collection that is current and broad in scope. One of our strategic goals is to have a collection that will preserve local history, satisfy curiosity, support life-long learning and stimulate the imagination. We have our shelves organised so that items are easy to find in Adult, Young Adult, Juvenile & Easy. Each of those areas is further divided so that you can locate what you are looking for. Collection development takes time and thought and we welcome the input of our patrons. It is a delicate balance of acquisition and weeding, and yes, Jan will probably lose sleep over trying to achieve that!