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Selection Policy

One of my responsibilities is to manage the library budget, which is designed to cover magazine subscriptions, the library software subscription, supplies of all sorts (for example, to process new books and magazines),  and, above all, the books themselves.

Developing a well-rounded collection takes time and needs constant managing. It's easy to look at a book that has been so popular that it's falling apart and say that it needs to be weeded out and replaced. It's pretty obvious that titles about the Soviet Union, plans to go to the moon, and descriptions of early computers need to be updated. It's not so easy to look at the Young Adult section of the public library and know which of them will work for our school.


I've acquired some official professional tools in the form of reference books that sit on my desk: H. W. Wilson's Children's Catalog and their Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Dewey Decimal Classification, and Sears List of Subject Headings. I refer to these when I'm creating my own cataloging and annotating the database. The Wilson catalogs list the books normally found in a library at K-8 level and give sufficient description for me to be able to judge whether the books listed will fill our needs.


I find Amazon's website very helpful, too. They include reviews from library periodicals as well as from individuals who have read the books. It's handy for finding out the other books in a series and is a valuable resource for finding titles to fill a very specific need. I can also go through Amazon to used book stores for items that are out of print.

I'm using Titlewave by Follett for most purchases because of the extra services they offer. They offer rebound copies of very popular books and guarantee that they will hold up under library use.  Another valuable tool is their collection analysis, where they evaluate our library to see which titles are out of date and which categories are out of balance in a collection our size. Increasingly, I'm checking their cataloging for Accelerated Reader level and Dewey Decimal numbers as I keep our database up to date.

It's important that the books and magazines we offer to the students reflect our views as Catholics in addition to supporting the curriculum and encouraging a love of reading. Books need to be chosen to match the different stages of development of our students, sometimes necessitating three different levels for the same topic. I make use of approved lists like the California Young Reader Medal selections and other medal winners; I talk frequently to our teachers and other librarians about their recommendations; and I read constantly. I want to know what's in all these treasures that I guard!