Saturday, July 5, 2014

How to create a YA section out of thin air

As I previously mentioned, I have quickly moved to create a YA/teen section at the library where I am now the director.  How did I do this?

I asked the system administrator of the library cooperative to generate a report for me that would show me what books of my juvenile fiction collection were held in the YA sections of other libraries within the cooperative.  She is a very magical woman, and was able to do this for me.  From this list, I gathered up all the books, weeded them for age and condition, and put together a section of nearly three hundred books.
Here are the stacks of YA books, waiting to be labeled and reshelved.

Next, I had to create a space for this section.  In an ideal world, I would have come up with a whole new shelving area, where teens could hang out and enjoy their own space.  However, that cannot happen.  So, I needed to move the juvenile section around.

And since I was moving that section around, I figured I should weed that section, to make more room both for new books and for the YA section.  So I emailed the system admin again, and she made a dusty shelf list.  Before she sent it to me, though, she called me up and explained a little problem.  See, if she went only based on when books were last checked out, I would be clearing out a major chunk of the section.  By limiting the list to only books that had never circulated since automating in 1997, and limiting further to only books published in 1985 or earlier, I'd only be deselecting about 700 books from the section.  Ouch.

Put another way, I was weeding anything that hadn't been checked out in nearly 20 years, and was about my age or older.  Of this old material, I kept anything by major authors, or were prize winners, or just struck my fancy ...

And what is more fanciful than this?

This weeding of the juvenile section was going well, until the picture books I was finding in the section began piling up.  And of course there was no room in that section for more books.  Once again, I asked for a dusty shelf list, this time writing a story that was along the "if/then" statements of a book by children's author Laura Numeroff.  It got a laugh, and perhaps one of the fastest dusty shelf list generations ever.

So now I have my evening clerk working on the project of pulling the books on the picture book list.  I rearranged the juvenile fiction section, weeded the juvenile paperback section for condition, and put everything in its places.  I feel very accomplished!

Then comes the problem of maintaining the section.  I am serving a population of 7,600+ people with a library that has a materials budget of $5,000.  The library has a McNaughton lease-to-buy subscription of five books per month, and a few Junior Library Guild packages.  The previous director would also buy five books and a couple audiobooks on CD each month from baker & Taylor.  Beyond that ... donations, and whatever can be bought with what's left of state aid at the end of the year.

If you're interested in library science, let me just disenchant you a moment and make it very clear that if you don't have a millage supporting the general services of the library, and you're at the mercy of a municipal government, you're not going to have much of a budget.  And that's even if you have a good city manager, as I currently do.

So what do you do?  Look to your own pockets and go shopping.  Next time, I'll show you what I managed to get for under $200 at the local bookstore.  You might be impressed.

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