How do you wind down collection development as you reach the end of your fiscal year? Ours just ended, so I wanted to share some of the activities and strategies we use for getting through this last bit of the purchasing year.
Communicate about your purchasing schedule
At my library, we wind down purchasing about two months before the end of our fiscal year. This gives our business office time to receive invoices and process outstanding POs. And it means that our weekly materials order take a pause for the last few weeks of the year. So, in advance of the wind-down we make sure to let staff know what is going on. We ask them to let us know if they’re hearing about any books they want to make sure we get. They can continue to submit purchase requests, but after the cutoff it may be awhile before we can purchase again.
Try not to miss anything…
Wanting to make sure you don’t miss any great children’s books? The ALSC Children’s Notables nominees is one great resource! I also look carefully at the titles that Heavy Medal and Calling Caldecott are discussing. I make sure to reach out to my children’s librarians. I want to know if we’re missing storytime books they love or novels they’re hearing buzz about.
Highlight the best of the year
Do you already make best-of lists? They are not only fun, but they help us guide our patrons to great books during months when we don’t have as many new books coming in.
We send out a weekly new books newsletter. For the last few weeks of the year that email gets really sparse since we’re not ordering. My collection development team sits down and writes booktalks for the newsletter featuring our favorite books of the year. Not only is it a good way to fill up that newsletter, but it’s a lot of fun and a great way to make sure we didn’t miss promoting any of our favorites. First, we make a spreadsheet with all the books we might each write up. Then, we schedule the booktalks so that we have inclusive lists covering a range of ages.
My collection development team make best-of lists for our e-book platform, too. We like to include our own personal favorites, but also borrow heavily from published best-of lists. No need to recreate the wheel. My best tip with best-of lists and displays is to also include a list of last year’s bests. That way even if all your 2021 “best” books get checked out, there’s still something your patrons can access. Do make sure that your lists are inclusive in terms of race, ability, sexual orientation, etc.
This may be easier to do if your fiscal year follows the calendar year like ours does. But if you end at a different time, consider how “best of the year so far” lists and displays might benefit you.
Think about the next fiscal year
I find it helpful to think about our purchasing goals for the next financial year and communicate that to staff. I like having a clear collection development plan. And it’s great to make front line staff aware of what’s already on our radar. For example, in 2022 we will be working on replacing worn copies of a lot of our children’s materials. We’ve been RFID tagging and pulling many books that are too worn to justify tagging. We are also adding a new Spanish language collection. And we’re revamping our adult and teen manga collections. Our front line staff know that these are areas we’re working on, so if they have input, we will take it. And if they get questions about these areas from patrons, they can tell them that improvements are in the works.