Collection maintenance, collection development, materials management, selection, weeding — it goes by many names, but whatever you call it, building and maintaining a relevant collection is a central component to all libraries. It can be challenging, and time-consuming, but the first step to great readers’ advisory is building a great collection. And while it may not be in every job title, my guess is that library staff at all levels are responsible for some piece of the collection maintenance life-cycle whether or not you have a dedicated librarian or department. 

When I first started in libraries I had no idea how much time, effort, and skill went into creating a library’s collection. And I had so many questions!  Luckily, I worked with an amazing librarian, Bethany, who I could turn to for help.   

Bethany, this picture book is damaged, should I order a new one? Bethany, kids keep asking for big cat books and we don’t have any!  Bethany, have you heard of Rodrick Rules? Wait, Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a series?! 

In case you don’t have a Bethany, or she (gasp!) takes a day off, you can turn to Core Collections.   

With Core Collections you’ll have an entire team of collection development librarians at your back, doing the heavy lifting for you, ready to answer all your collection-based questions. 

Here’s how it works. NoveList librarians evaluate hundreds of titles each month and assign each title a recommendation level: essential, recommended, supplemental, or weeded. You can use these levels to help you make informed purchasing and weeding decisions based on vendor-neutral, authoritative recommendations. Think of Core Collections as your extra staff member — the collection development expert who will help you streamline the entire collection maintenance process.   

Efficiently weed your collection 

  • Look up that damaged picture book in Core Collections and check the recommendation level. If it’s essential, put it on your re-order list!  If it’s listed as supplemental or weeded, that’s going to help inform your decision. 
  • Along with recommendation levels, Core Collections includes over 100 sources for book reviews, and awards lists, to help you determine whether a title meets the particular needs of your community.  
  • Core Collections can help you go through particular sections of your collection so you can really get a handle on what you have, and what needs to go. Search by Dewey range or subject, limit to recommendation level "weeded" and limit to titles held at your library to generate a list of titles to weed. 

Quickly research new titles for your collection 

  • No cheetah or panther books on your shelves? Search Core Collections for wild cats, or any subject or Dewey range, and find books we recommend at all levels for all ages. You can easily see which titles you already own right in the database and add any that you’re missing to a folder – a quick way to create a list of things to order. 
  • Core Collections also includes NoveList-specific genres and subject headings. Book records receive the NoveList treatment, giving you the ability to search Core Collections using the power of NoveList’s unique metadata providing access points to help you more easily identify highly recommended titles in specific content areas 

Effectively maintain and grow your collection 

  • Of course, I now know that Diary of a Wimpy Kid is an ongoing series and with Core Collections, I’ll never miss a hot new title again!  You can set up email alerts for popular authors, series, or essential titles to stay in the know and keep your to-purchase list stocked. Alerts can be as broad as new essential fiction, or as specific as middle-grade action and adventure graphic novels, and you will be notified every time a title related to that search is added. 
  • When you need to support community or programming needs and add more depth and breadth to one area of a collection, such as antiracist literature, cozy mysteries, or STEM fiction, the Core Collections levels of recommendations can make sure you have the essential and recommended titles, while also allowing you to quickly check supplemental titles. 

Make good decisions for your readers, community, and resources 

  • All titles in Core Collections are chosen with guidance from review sources by librarians with expertise in their fields. The experts highlight materials that build a well-rounded collection, which includes many viewpoints and opinions, so you can build a relevant and meaningful collection with confidence.  
  • Core Collections’ recommendation levels, thousands of reviews, and awards information will help you better understand why a title might be right for your collection, important to offer to readers in your community, or when you can pass, even on a “recommended” title. 

There are so many ways to use Core Collections! Check out how Core Collections helped Fairfax County Public Library manage their physical collection during the pandemic, and how it continues to help them with weeding, serving a diverse community, and more.  

Libraries of all sizes will benefit from having Core Collections on their staff. If you’d like more information, sign up for a demo and let us walk you through the features. Or request a trial and see what Core Collections can do for you. After all, not even Bethany knows everything. 

Core Collections content specialists and collection development staff are committed to creating and maintaining collections that reflect the diversity of the human experience. When selecting a title for Core Collections, we evaluate its critical consensus, but we also consider its contribution to the breadth and depth of viewpoints present in the databases. We mitigate biases to the best of our ability by seeking out multiple opinions on books and actively staying educated on issues of diversity and representation in publishing.

We are always seeking to improve and welcome feedback on how Core Collections can better serve your library.

Lauren Campbell is a NoveList Consultant. She is currently reading Pride by Ibi Aanu Zoboi (an essential for Middle and Junior High School).