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Friday, July 15, 2022

2022 Materials Survey via Library Journal [Partt 3 of 3]

Over the last 3 days I have produced an impromptu series to help you better understand the adult leisure book market.

First, I gave you access to the  2022 Book We Love [so far] from NPR Books.

Second, we looked at what titles were selling the most copies so far this year.

Today I we are going to add in a specific library collections perspective before I talk to you about using this data together to better serve all of your patrons.

So today, part 3, is Library Journal's Annual Materials Survey- Collection Rebalance. From the intro:

The findings of LJs Public Library Materials Survey show that librarians are focused on the formats readers want and the process of crafting responsive and representative collections 

The state of U.S. public library collections in 2022 is in flux, with librarians considering stacks that need to be studied, measured, weeded, and diversified. Our yearly materials survey highlights the demands of readers for a range of formats and the need to ensure that collections reflect voices previously ignored due to racism and other structural biases.

Using a comprehensive survey of 131 US public libraries, reporting and breaking down the data, this report holds so much useful information.

Here are the headings from within the article

  • Print: The Backbone of Collections
  • Physical Media: Cuts Are Coming
  • Change in spending from 2020 to 2021
  • Streaming: Budgets and Discovery
  • Measuring Demand and Use
  • Diversity Audits
  • Weeding and Building
  • The Work of 2022
Again, click through and read this important piece.

Taken alone, the 3 parts of this series over the last 3 days are all useful, but it is when we look at critically acclaimed, bestselling, and patron usage data all together that we learn the most about our readers.

Too often libraries operate in a bubble and library workers think they know everything they need to know about their patrons and their reading habits. For example, after yesterday's post, I had multiple people reach out to tell me they were surprised to see the bestselling data. And these were leaders in RA and collections across the country saying they were surprised. We need to know what is actually selling because if we don't have those books, and make it obvious to our communities that we do, they won't use the library.

We need to remember that more of our community than not doesn't know the goodies we have available for them, pre-paid with their taxes. Often we are so busy being focused on our purchasing habits and appealing to our known users, that we forget we need to bring new people in as well. 

Second, while the "best of" list will appeal to most of our users, we need to always balance the critics picks with what is selling the most. When I give my signature RA for All training I talk about this at length when I compare using NoveList for the professional point of view on a title vs Goodreads for the reader opinion. It is only when we consider BOTH that we can truly serve our readers to our best ability.

Too often I see library workers disparaging James Patterson or Colleen Hoover. But you know what, Patterson and Hoover bring readers into the library. Patterson and Hoover are getting adults to read, at a higher rate than in previous years. They are your allies here. Those are the authors you need to make sure you are making readalike lists for, having signs to let people know you have great titles while they wait on the holds list. Make it clear that you know what they want so they know you are "listening" to their wants, but also remind them  of all of the other wonderful reading experiences you have as well. 

Same for BookTok. I don't care if you don't use TikTok. But you absolutely need to know what is most popular on BookTok if you want to serve your readers.  Just look at the bestselling data to back me up.

And third, comparing the best vs bestselling and then looking at it in terms of what we carry in our libraries with such a wide lens allows us to craft and promote better collections. The data in the LJ Materials Survey is from  a wide sample and considers the past 3 years. The trends that are emerging are fascinating. For example, remember when everyone said in a few years print books would disappear. Well, guess what?  They re stronger than ever. Again, please read the entire report.

I hope you take some time to look at the last three days of posts at one time and consider them as one resource.

Back Monday with LibraryReads' August list and then Tuesday with some fresh Booklist reviews. 

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