Behind the Scenes in Collection Development: Selecting and Purchasing Adult Non-Fiction

Ever wonder how our Collection Development Librarians review, select, and organize materials? Here's an example of the expert work our Collection Development Librarian for Adult Nonfiction and Eresources, Donna Mettier, employs when thinking about materials for our nonfiction adult collection: 

Adult Non-Fiction for a popular reading public library is about offering materials that support adult readers of all ages (18-108) in the exploration of topics that help them live full lives in Washington State. Our print books and digital materials assist them in exploring diverse topics of interest to them: diet and cooking, parenting, family life, making a home, lifestyle, gardening, fitness…and also travel, retirement, auto repair, job preparation, new skills, personal hobbies, understanding medical conditions, learning about other people’s lives, engaging in self-help, and discovering science and nature, world religions, and even their own family origins. 

Supporting adults is also about having materials that help them make sense of our diverse world and complex current events. It involves offering multiple points of view on issues and trusting our adult readers to assess information on their own and for themselves.  It also means having resources to help with necessary life tasks: finances, legal issues, job searching, citizenship, and tax matters.  When we do not have a specific print resource within the collection, we refer to inter-library, opens a new window loan or to online resources, opens a new window.

Finding current and relevant materials means staying informed about upcoming publications from large and small publishers but also considering suggested purchases from our users.  Our goal is to have popular materials that will find an audience within Timberland.  We assess materials by checking a work’s marketing materials, professional reviews, patron recommendation (if there is one) and a search of US public library ownership/availability of cataloging records.  If there is no corroborating information but the work is local in some way, the selector will review the item and assess the presentation and coherence of the work before making a decision to add it to the library’s collection.