Monday, October 16, 2006

Juvenile holiday books

It's that time of year. Time to decide how many and which picture books should be added to the library's juvenile collection? To be specific, by holiday I mean Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and all other residual holiday falling between October and the end of December (no disrespect intended). When I first started working at this library, I ordered a large quantity of holiday books because it was an area in need of serious collection development. Five years later, I am lucky enough to limit my purchases to some of the "best," picking and choosing from what various review sources have to offer. I also have to start wondering, is there a time where I have enough holiday books in the collection?

Don't get me wrong, holiday books are an integral part of the existing juvenile collection. One of my main functions in purchasing children's books is to support the college of education and this includes having holiday books for student teachers to take into the classroom for Halloween and Thanksgiving in the fall, and Valentine's Day and Black History Month resources in early winter. But since we are on break from early December through the MLK holiday, December holiday books are not used to any great extent. Today I have the October 2006 issue of School Library Journal at my disposal (a bit late in the month for the October issue, but I should not complain) and inside there are no fewer than fifty-five reviews for December holiday books. Included within that fifty-five are four different versions of Clement C. Moore's The Night Before Christmas. A quick look at the university catalog reveals four copies of this story are already part of our collection. How many copies are enough? Let's consider budget constraints, I have a finite amount of money to spend throughout the year and each dollar is to support the education curriculum. What portion of that should be spent on books that have their highest circulation rate during a season when the students are not here to use them?

When I worked at a public library, this time of year we pulled holiday books and changed their circulation period to one week so more people would be able to enjoy them. The holidays were very much a peak circulation period and the more children's holiday books we had, the higher our numbers would be. It was pretty much a no-brainer to spend money on books that are going to be used by patrons. Shouldn't the same be true when making the purchases for academics? This is not to say I will not buy December holiday books, but usage must be taken into consideration.

I'm going to look through the reviews now and, with an open mind, choose what will enhance the existing collection. Yes, this is something I do regardless of the time of year, but when I am "waffling" between buying and not buying, saving money for math or fairy tale purchases later in the year may take precedence.

Before I forget, the October SLJ had two really good articles:

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