In the stacks
While it is evident that libraries are evolving, we still serve a basic purpose of delivering books into the hands of our community. I often get questions from library users who are curious about how we select the items we add to our collection.
First, there are some state requirements for how we spend our money. Public libraries in Pennsylvania must spend at least 12 percent of their budgets on items for the collection. In addition, we are required to weed out at least 5 percent of the books from the collection each year. That means that books that haven’t been checked out often are removed from the library and put into the book sale for the Friends of the Library. This book sale, run completely by volunteers, raises significant funds for the library’s expenses.
When we purchase materials, we look at a variety of things including popularity, how it complements the items already in the collection and literature reviews from journals for librarians. We also honor requests from patrons who would like a specific item. We do whatever we can to make sure that our patrons can get what they need. If we don’t have the item and cannot get it, we work with patrons to borrow items from libraries around the state. This interlibrary loan system makes it possible for anyone living in Pennsylvania to get materials from any other library. It is a beneficial system, especially for students who are doing research and need the actual item in their hands in order to use it as a reference.
The library also offers a service called the Bestsellers Book Club. Patrons can select the authors whose books they always read and we take care of the rest. For instance, if you love books by Janet Evanovich and wait anxiously for each new title, we can place holds for you and let you know when the book is ready to pick up. This is a free service offered to anyone that has Ephrata as their home library. There is no cost and you can sign up for the service either at the library or online at our website.
Within the next few weeks, we’ll be placing our “Little Libraries” around town. This project, lead by our Junior Friends and assisted by The Art of Recycle, has allowed us to construct several Little Libraries throughout town. Anyone can take a book or leave a book – no library card needed. You may also notice other Little Libraries popping up around town in front of people’s houses. As the idea becomes more popular, residents are taking up the idea and creating their own libraries and keeping it stocked. The best part of the whole project is that it was funded and run by teens from 13-16 years old. The fundraising, planning and hands-on building took a significant amount of time on their part. This group’s sole purpose to fundraise and advocate on our behalf. They are doing a fantastic job!
One last word about items in the collection; we are here to serve you. If you think there is something we are missing, please let us know. We have a suggestion form on our website, or you can stop by and let us know. If we can fit it into the budget and we think it’s a good fit, we’ll add it. While we always try to get most of what people want, there are always things we might not see. Remember, we’re YOUR library!