What are the most popular books in your library? We school librarians can all name the titles our students clamor for (Guinness Book of World Records anyone?) and we have all watched their faces fall when we have to tell them the book is already checked out to someone else. We’ve all struggled in our ordering decisions: purchase the well-written, positively reviewed books that support the curriculum vs. buy the commercially popular titles that kids can’t get enough of. Sometimes it’s hard enough to bring ourselves to spend our precious book dollars on even one copy of a book with questionable literary merit, much less, four or six or even ten copies!
Well, take a look at the article by Kristine Chen in this month’s School Library Journal titled “Give Them What They Want.” Chen presents a well-reasoned argument for ordering multiple library copies of the most popular titles among students, and describes the change she’s seen in library usage since she began doing so. Her resons for stocking up on the most sought-after titles include:
- You get more circulations for your dollar with popular books. If a great book just sits on the shelf, you’ve pretty much wasted your money on it.
- You generate more interest in your collection when you stock what the customer wants, and having more students reading the same book at the same time creates a buzz that draws other kids in.
- You have far fewer disappointed faces to deal with!
I don’t know about your district, but our district does not include a line item for library books in our schools’ budgets. Yes, you read that right. There is no money for books in my library budget, and there hasn’t been for the past three years. I also do not receive any Title I funds for books, nor any other money I don’t raise myself through book fairs. I do have money ($1,191) for library supplies, so I’ve decided that books are library supplies. Still, that’s less than $2,000 to buy tape, labels, paper, ink, etc. AND books. Talk about making hard choices!
So what’s your policy on ordering popular titles, and ordering multiple copies of them?