How does a library decide what books to carry?

@MrBrettClark 4 Comments

How does a library decide what books to carry?  What criteria does a grocery store go through before it decides if it will place an item on the shelf?

When you work in a 1:1 environment where every student in grades 6-12 has a Netbook, you constantly deal with the issue of what they are viewing on the Netbook.  Like every issue, there are all kinds of directions you can go.  You can go with the view point that you place everything on the shelf that is available and you teach students how to make correct choices.  You can go with the view point that you only allow students to go to the areas that are necessary for education.  You can fall somewhere between the two viewpoints.

It leads me to a talk I heard Yancy Unger give the other day about being a curator of education.  The definition of curator is a keeper or custodian of a museum of other collection.  If you take that into consideration and you consider yourself a curator of knowledge, then it leads me to my final question.  How do we decide what knowledge to share with the students and what knowledge to withhold?

I have no answers to these questions, just my own opinions.  I would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I'll go one further. why make ourselves the curator? in the firehose-culture of information, isn't the most vital thing we can teach children the tools and skills to curate their own information?

    This is done in a number of ways and stages. my girls sit on my lab (well the three year old does. 6 and 9 sit beside me...they're big) as i research and watch the process.

    the older kids take their first trepidatious steps onto the superhighway and sometimes fail.

    in the highschool, the skills of research are introduced and reinforced from the first day they walk in the door. What is a good source? where do you keep going again and again? why?

    I agree we have to be curators of knowledge. More importantly, we have to create the next generation of digital "librarians"

  2. You raise some tough questions... what's most important is that these questions continue to be at the forefront of our thinking.

    Too often ideology trumps research and evidence. When we fall into this trap, the kind of questions you ask are nothing more than an inconvenience to be swept away.

    As for your question about how library's should stock their shelves, there isn't likely to one right answer, but all of the best answers would include making sure that who ever is reading the books would have a say in what books are placed on the shelf.

    Thanks for sharing


  3. Thank you both for your comments!

    jD - I agree that we need to not only be curators ourselves but must teach students how to curate themselves.

    Joe - I think you make two excellent points that too often ideology trumps research and evidence and that who ever is reading the books should have a say in what books are placed on the shelf.

    Thank you both for contributing to the discussion.

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