How Do Books Get to the Shelves?

ShelvesAccording to Google Books, about 130,000,000 distinct book titles exist worldwide with 50,000 new titles published each year. At the Daniel Boone Regional Library, we have nearly 500,000 books, old and new (including several copies of popular titles). How do we decide which books make it to the library’s shelves?

We start by asking ourselves, “What do you, the reader, want to read?” Yes, it’s partly a popularity contest, and that’s okay since our goal is to have what you are interested in reading in our libraries.

One of the easiest ways to get an idea of what we need to purchase is by reviewing which authors and topics leave our shelves most often. For example, books by Janet Evanovich fly off the shelves, so we make sure to order all her new books. Books about diet and exercise are in demand, so we’ve beefed up that section of our collection.

We make other book purchases based on reviews, especially when considering a first-time author like Kathryn Stockett who wrote “The Help.” For highly anticipated titles, like “The Mark of Athena” by Rick Riordan and ones with outstanding reviews, we place orders before the book is even published. Most titles are purchased within the year they are published, since books come in and out of print so quickly.

We also keep a careful eye on your requests for specific books. We encourage you to suggest titles, though we cannot always purchase everything suggested. We may choose not to purchase titles that are better suited for an academic collection, older books that can be borrowed through our interlibrary loan system or books published in another country.

Book SaleWhen we can, we purchase titles in all formats available—hardback, large print, audiobook, ebook, even Spanish—so wider range of readers can enjoy them.

Since we have limited space, we regularly review what we have on our shelves and evaluate each book based on how often it has been checked out, whether it’s in good condition and how many copies we have. We donate discarded books to the Friends groups for their sales where you can buy titles for your own personal collection.

Since our vision is to encourage reading and lifelong learning, we make sure our collection includes popular materials that educate, entertain and engage readers of all ages. Just as our lives change, so do the books on our shelves.

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