By Becky Brower
The question of who selects the books that the Syracuse Public Library purchases is not hard. It is everyone. That is everyone who uses the library. The library responds to requests for titles and tracks the authors who get regular and frequent checkouts. Books are ordered and processed monthly. As part of the Libby Indiana Digital consortium we purchase books that we think interest our patrons or ones that they request. As a result, there is a wide selection of titles for readers to choose from.
An example of the way the Syracuse Public Library selects materials can be found with the 2012 novel, Fifty Shades of Grey. Keep in mind that there are somewhere between 600,000 and a million books published in the U.S. each year. Immediately, after the book’s debut, we got requests, purchased a copy, and people who had not been in the library before got a library card just to read the book. The book wore out several times, and at one point, there were enough holds that we had two copies.
Had any of us at the library been able to predict that Fifty Shades of Grey -- a book full of misspellings, grammatical errors, incomplete sentences, and a weird story line -- would become a best-selling book, they could have quit their job and moved to New York, where they would make millions of dollars.
Books on the library shelves are selected with a system that is responsive to community needs and a broad social standard. Believe it or not, but most of the books that are offered are not read cover-to-cover by the library staff.
Becky Brower, SPL's adult services librarian, is a lifelong learning specialist for adults. Please share any program ideas with her that you would be interested in attending, and she will try to make them happen.
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