Sunday, 6 May 2012

Teen collections

The other day I was discussing with a colleague the issues everyone seems to be having with their teen collections. My belief is that we need to treat this collection the same way we treat magazines – as an ephemeral and much more disposable collection.  Buy what is trending; buy lots of copies of what is trending.  If that is what our teenage customers want to read, then give it to them.  Why have a massive holds queue of The hunger games because we want to avoid having multiple copies left sitting on the shelves once the popularity wanes, when we have copies of other books just sitting on the shelves regardless?  Why do we insist on having well rounded collections in order to adhere to a collection development policy that obviously is not meeting their needs, judging by the static or dropping stats in this area?  Why not change the collection development policy to reflect what teens want, when they want it?  When the books are no longer popular, weed them as you would any other time.  We’re weeding books that have barely been used, if at all.  If ever there was justification for just in time versus just in case, this is it.  For this audience, be reactive, not proactive. 


SharonU said...

I tend to agree with you! However, the constant battle I see is that often if you have missed purchasing what is currently "trending" sometimes it is very hard to purchase more copies. Of course, this depends on how your library can purchase.

More and more library vendors are asking us to purchase books pre published - how do we know if it will be popular then? And then if we don't purchase, often we've missed the boat and the publisher puts of doing another print run until there is enough demand - a result for us is unsatisfied customers.

I'd be interested in hearing at what point to other libraries purchase more copies - do you use number of reserves? Or do you just purchase heaps of copies of the best sellers?

The problem I see with YA is that often it is hard to predict what will trend and if we purchase in a reactive style then we may miss the boat.

Tania said...

By reactive I am meaning that we don't try to know if something will be popular - quite often a lot of the popular books are actually ones that have been published for several years before they are 'discovered' (take The hunger games and Twilight as examples).

Whilst we're moving more and more to an automated model, maybe we revisit that for teens. If there is too much of a delay sourcing from suppliers, is it faster to get them from a bookstore? This then opens up the issue of in house processing again, but I do think something different is worth considering.

We have a holds to copy ratio (8:1) but I would like to see that dropped for teen copies :-)

Ross said...

Interesting discussion. In academic libraries our concern is to make sure that our collection can adequately support our teaching programs, gives them access to current scholarship, and to offer differing viewpoints to develop our students' critical thinking skills.