Monday, September 17, 2012

In which I sound annoyed about book selection

I promised myself I would post every week, but last week was hectic and the internets (that magical series of tubes that I love so much) were down for a good portion of the weekend. This week has been hectic, what with planning, spending quality time in Dhaka, and then being sick for no apparent reason (not to be crude, but I feel like I've lost at least 10 lbs due to loose bowels). I'm feeling better now, but it's a good thing I'm near a washroom (which is what they call a bathroom and what I call a toilet). Also, I was able to acquire a bag of Crunchie bars, which soothe any aching soul. Forewarning, this is a library heavy post, I have lots to say after unpacking almost 5,000 books.

So, let's talk for a minute about Titlewave. Titlewave is Follett's book purchasing website, where you can select books, add them to a cart, and have them shipped to you, in order, so all you have to do is open the box and add them to the shelves. Genius, right? They will also help fill in your order, which means that you pick a few books you want, put in the reading level of your library and they'll fill in the rest of the order up to a dollar amount. Ok, so this sounds good, all the joys of pickign books without having to go through individually. However, this can leave a few problems. Take this book, for example.

"Ah, no wonder you're extinct. I'm gonna run you over when I come back down!"

It's beautiful, lovely pull out illustrations, it has lots of facts, it has a CD-Rom for kids to get more info. On the other hand, in what school library do you want a pop up book with a CD-Rom for kids to rip into (literally) and lose?

Example #2
 Clearly an awesome book, not really all that great for a library, right?

All that on the left, that's all the bibles. All that on the right, that's all the other religions.
Another minor quibble I've found is something that we discussed at length in grad school, specifically in the class that shall not be named (because no one could remember the ridiculously long name they gave it) and that we called SI church, because there was a pulpit in the movie theater we met in. Specifically, we're talking about the fact that my library now has no fewer than seven (yes, seven) different Christian bibles. Why does that matter, you ask? Well, first of all, Bangladesh is not a Christian country, it's 89.5% Muslim. Having seven bibles, while definitely representative of the Christian world, is not representative of the population that I am serving. Second, we only have one Qur'an. Actually, I just looked it up, and it's not even the whole Qur'an, according to the book description in Destiny, "It combines a study of key quotes from the Qur'an with a discussion of Islam, its history, founders and beliefs." So it's a selection of quotes with commentary. This is quite short-sighted for a school that has an Islamic Studies class, don't you think? Third, we have no other sacred texts from other religions. The second largest religious group in Bangladesh are Hindus, and we don't have the Bhagavad Gita, in fact we have one book that has the been categorized as being about Hindus, just the one. I know, talking about the number of religious books we have is probably not all that interesting to you, however, I feel very passionately that a library collection should represent its readers. How can I say this collection represents my students when it fails to represent a massive part of their culture?  </rant>

The point being, collection development is essential to the library. Sure, we can have Titlewave fill in the blank spots we have, but librarians also need to be proactive in actually making sure that the titles it's "filling in" are something that meets the needs of our patrons.

In other news, I now have a book return.
It's a giant hunk of furniture, I'm designing displays for the top.

Books in the book return!

In other, other news, I bought a ticket to Kathmandu in October. Mountains, here I come!

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