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Just Ask Us: how does the library decide what books to buy?

Books and other materials in the Madison Public Library's collection are selected based on reviews in professional journals, requests from library users, awards, best seller lists, publishing trends, availability and demand.

Q: How does the library decide what books to buy?

A: Books, magazines, DVDs and CDs in the Madison Public Library’s collection are selected based on reviews in professional journals, requests from library users, awards, best seller lists, publishing trends, availability and demand, said Molly Warren, library collection manager.

Collection material is chosen by library staff members responsible for specific areas, according to the library’s collection development policy.

Also, data are being used more today than in the past to help make decisions, Warren said.

“Our Collection Management Team librarians have their pulse on the publishing industry, the community, our library system, and on local, national and world news,” she said. “All of the collection management team librarians are highly skilled and specialized professionals ... They have to stay in tune with all of human knowledge, interests and trends.”

Madison’s nine public libraries also add to collections through donations, Warren said.

The libraries have started to buy more books in Spanish, more audio books and fewer books on CD as customer demands change, she said.

The library purchases most of its material through vendors at discounts of up to 40 percent, Warren said.

The collection includes nearly 815,000 items of literary, cultural, educational, information and recreational materials. That includes popular and in-demand materials, large-print books, government documents, foreign language materials, study guides, financial and tax information, directories, career information and medical information, according to the library.

— Chris Aadland

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Send questions to: justaskus@madison.com; Just Ask Us, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI 53708.

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