One of the questions we’ve received from our various feedback options (Ask-a-Librarian, Twitter, Facebook, ye olde Suggestion Box on M Level) is – how do books get chosen for the libraries’ collections? A very good question! With about 20,000 books added each year (not including journal volumes), you have to wonder how we pick them from the millions published in any given year.
Basically, we get our books either “automatically” or by request. The “automatically” received books come from various book vendors, who send us books on a regular basis, following a profile that we’ve set up with them. This is what we librarians refer to as an approval plan. This definition comes from our English-language books vendor, YBP (formerly known by the charming moniker “Yankee Book Peddler”). And among our many approval plans for foreign-language books are:
- Aux Amateurs de Livres (French)
- Harrassowitz (German)
- Casalini Libri (Italian)
- Latin American Bookstore
- Puvill (Spanish books, not from Latin America)
- Jerusalem Books (Hebrew)
- MIPP (Russian)
We also have some specialized approval plans for particular categories of books and media, like:
- Museum catalogues and art books (Worldwide Books and Shamansky)
- Small Press Books (Small Press Distribution)
- DVDs: major prize winners and the Criterion Collection (Action! Library Media)
While these plans account for about 68% of new books each year, we buy a lot of books by request. Faculty and graduate students routinely suggest books for purchase to their liaison (or subject) librarians. And those liaison librarians buy books on their own initiative too, using catalogs, book reviews and professional reading.
You can participate too! Remember ye olde Suggestion Box? On M Level, opposite the elevators, is a box where you can leave your own suggestions for purchases. Also, note the “Suggestion Box” tab at the top of this blog page for electronic submission. Requests from both of these sources are routed to the appropriate subject librarian for consideration. You can also suggest purchases using this link from the libraries home page. Our book collections represent a real community effort, and reflect the diverse research community (including you) that is Johns Hopkins.