How your libraries pick their books

Ever wonder who makes sure the latest book in a series such as “The Hunger Games” ends up stocked on a local library’s shelf?

That responsibility lies with a handful of librarians who select new materials for branches of Sno-Isle Libraries and the Everett Public Library.

Nancy Messenger picks out adult fiction for Sno-Isle Libraries, making sure there are enough copies of the latest, most popular series and most popular authors, such as John Grisham, Janet Evanovich and James Patterson.

It’s a never-ending process.

“We purchase on an ongoing basis,” said Messenger, who is the collection development manager for Sno-Isle. “We are selecting titles like every two weeks. We never stop.”

Messenger and four others take care of different portions of the Sno-Isle Libraries’ collections, including fiction and nonfiction books, children’s material, e-books, DVDs and music.

At the Everett Public Library, the task of choosing materials for different sections is divided among 14 librarians.

“It’s just one of the duties we do,” said Emily Dagg, manager of youth services and outreach for Everett Public Library.

Librarians in Everett pay close attention to how many copies of popular books for kids and teens are needed so young readers can easily find what they want on the shelves, Dagg said.

“We do something that I call trying to hit the saturation point,” she said. “A lot of kids don’t like to place holds. For most of our popular books, kids can walk in and find it.”

Sno-Isle Children’s Services staff put together a list of 100 books that children should have read to them before kindergarten. At least one copy of every title is in every library branch, and some have up to six or seven, Messenger said.

Sno-Isle Libraries and the Everett Public Library share and gain information about publishing trends and managing their collections at meetings held throughout the year with each other and librarians who manage collections in other counties. They also find out about new materials from book vendors and library literature and journals such as School Library Journal and book review journals, including Publisher’s Weekly, Dagg said.

“In addition, some publishers send us lists of what’s coming out through email, and book distributors send lists of all the new books,” she said.

Local libraries buy the new materials using money in their annual materials budgets. Sno-Isle Libraries, with branches in 21 cities throughout Snohomish County, has a materials budget this year of $4.8 million. Everett Public Library has two locations and their 2012 budget is $670,150.

Both libraries make decisions on whether to buy materials using a set of selection criteria. This criteria, outlined by Sno-Isle Libraries in its Collection Development Policy, includes support for the library’s mission and roles; accuracy and timeliness of material; and expressed and perceived interest or demand for the material based on requests or other data, among other benchmarks.

Often, circulation data from an author’s previous books help librarians determine how many copies to buy of a new title. Libraries also receive requests for material from their customers.

“We have an electronic request form that our customers can use while searching our catalog and if they don’t find a title they’re searching for they can fill out a request,” Messenger said. “It allows us to directly respond to the requests that we get.”

Librarians often find requests for titles before they are published that the library would have bought anyway, while other titles are more esoteric, Messenger said. At times, requested material is borrowed from other libraries.

New materials are also bought to replace items that can have outdated information or are worn out from high circulation.

“Throughout the year we look at materials that are worn, and if customers still are requesting them, we buy new copies,” Dagg said.

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491;

100 great kids books

Here is the list of 100 books that should be read to children before they reach kindergarten, according to the Sno-Isle Libraries.

• Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

• Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

• Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock by Eric Kimmel

• Angelina Ballerina by Helen Craig

• Are You My Mother? by Philip D. Eastman

• Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

• Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson

• Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

• Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban

• Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin

• Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina

• Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin

• Corduroy by Don Freeman

• Curious George by H. A. Rey

• Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

• Duck on a Bike by David Shannon

• Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert

• Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow

• Freight Train by Donald Crews

• Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel

• Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London

• George and Martha by James Marshall

• Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley

• Go, Dog, Go! by Philip D. Eastman

• Goin’ Someplace Special by Pat McKissack

• Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

• Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss

• Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert

• Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

• Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

• Harry, the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

• How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen

• I Stink! by Kate McMullan

• I Went Walking by Sue Williams

• If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff

• Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino

• It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles Green Shaw

• Jamberry by Bruce Degen

• Jump, Frog, Jump! by Robert Kalan

• Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems

• Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

• Little Gorilla by Ruth Bornstein

• Lunch by Denise Fleming

• Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

• Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

• Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse

• Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh

• Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton

• Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag

• Miss Nelson Is Missing! by Harry Allard

• Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham

• My Very First Mother Goose edited by Iona Opie and illustrated by Rosemary Wells.

• No, David! by David Shannon

• Noisy Nora by Rosemary Wells

• Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

• Olivia by Ian Falconer

• Owl Babies by Martin Waddell

• Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

• Raven: A Trickster Tale From the Pacific Northwest by Gerald McDermott

• Richard Scarry’s Best First Book Ever by Richard Scarry

• Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins

• Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young

• Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw

• Stone Soup: An Old Tale by Marcia Brown

• Strega Nona: An Original Tale by Tomie De Paola

• Swimmy by Leo Lionni

• Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

• Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang

• The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss

• The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

• The Empty Pot by Demi

• The Everything Book by Denise Fleming

• The Great Gracie Chase: Stop That Dog! by Cynthia Rylant

• The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

• The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

• The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood

• The Mitten: A Ukrainian Folktale by Jan Brett

• The Napping House by Audrey Wood

• The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

• The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant

• The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

• The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

• The Squeaky Door by Margaret Read MacDonald

• The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant by Jean de Brunhoff

• The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

• The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

• The Three Bears by Byron Barton

• The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Peter Christen Asbjornsen

• The Three Pigs by David Wiesner

• The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

• The Water Hole by Graeme Base

• The Wolf’s Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza

• There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback

• Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco

• Time For Bed by Mem Fox

• Tuesday by David Wiesner

• We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

• Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

• Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

• Yoko by Rosemary Wells

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