World’s best job: selecting books for the library

This article by Librarian Patti Cheney Lang originally appeared in the Arizona Daily Star on July 20, 2014.

I have the best job in the world.

I’m already a librarian, which is enough to make anyone jealous. But then I started working for the Collection Development Office with the Pima County Public Library three years ago. Now that is the tops.

I’m the kind of librarian who’s a big reader. So this wonderful job keeps me up to date on new and soon-to-be-published books. This might explain why I bring a rolling briefcase filled with books that I’m reading, need to read, and just finished reading (plus my lunch) to work every day.

In addition to being a librarian, I’m also a big time library patron. While browsing our New Books shelf recently, I picked up the new Michael Koryta book, Those Who Wish Me Dead, and discovered a new-to-me author, Mitchell Scott Lewis. Other books I’ve found while wandering around my workplace include Spider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman and Disenchanted & Co. by Lynn Viehl.

As you can imagine, placing holds for books and browsing our shelves are very enjoyable benefits!

As part of the Collection Development team, I work with three other librarians to select the materials that you borrow, read, listen to, watch, and enjoy. We’re responsible for selecting items for you in as many formats as possible. That means print, large print, audiobooks, audio downloads, eBooks, Spanish materials, music downloads, DVDs, and video streaming. We also select materials for people of all ages—from babies and toddlers to adults.

There are a lot of things that go into our selection process, and this is where the research part of our work comes in.

We look at reviews, and we consider the popularity of the subject or the author within Pima County. How current is the topic? Is that book or DVD available for us to buy right now? How many copies should we buy? How many different formats should we buy for a title?

We carefully consider it all so that we can choose materials for you.

In fact, did you know that if the library doesn’t carry something that you’re looking for, you can email a request to us?

Every weekday a Collection Development librarian is going through requests from our library customers. It’s a priority for us, and we do everything we can to find what you want. Let’s say you’re looking for a particular book that’s not available for us to purchase anymore. We’ll try to interlibrary loan the book for you by borrowing it from another library system.

Before I get back to work finding more books for you (and for me, of course), I want you to know that your Collection Development librarians enjoy hearing from you. Rich, our manager, recently responded to a customer’s email request and informed him that we couldn’t get the requested title in the digital audio format that he wanted. However, we were able to buy the audiobook on CD.

Here’s the nice response that Rich received:

“Richard, many thanks for your very full and thoughtful answer; I'll be on the lookout for the CD! Again, I'd like to express my appreciation of the work the ILL and acquisitions people are doing ....I've worked in libraries from Moscow to Honolulu (literally) and never found one more dependably helpful than TPPL—it's definitely an ornament of my existence here in Tucson.”

I will never, ever run out of reading material.

And neither will the patrons of the Pima County Public Library.

Can't find it?
If you can't find what you're looking for in the library's catalog, send a request to the Collection Development Office. We'll check into it and try to purchase or interlibrary loan the item for you.

Patti Cheney Lang is a Collection Development Librarian and a member of the readers’ advisory team, Ravenous Readers. She enjoys reading mysteries most of all, but reads many other things, including cereal boxes.