I thought you might be interested to learn a bit about my first steps at my workplace library. After a very short application process (like: do you really want to join? yes? then ok you’re in!), we are an ambitious team of… 4 volunteers, each with a particular responsibility. One for fiction in French, one for non-fiction and children’s lit, one for comics (by far the most visited bookshelves) and now yours truly for English books (fiction and non-fiction and children’s lit). The library is open twice a week between 12.30 and 2pm, and I discovered quickly that most people show up in the last 20 minutes!
The first session I learnt about the computer software and the shelving system, especially how we make a difference between new acquisitions and the rest of them, since people often come in and just want to see what’s new. I did a lot of loans and returns that day just to get my hand on the (rather slow and independent-minded) software.
The second session I got to chat with the guy in charge of the comics and forage with him in the old papers that the person previously in charge of the English shelves had left. That got me the name and address of the bookshop she used for orders and an idea about the yearly budget. Unfortunately the bookshop closed in the meantime, so I need to start afresh with a new bookshop as well! Since the previous volunteer has left the company a while back, no orders have been passed for a whole year in the English bookshelves and without new acquisitions, people’s interest has waned a bit. I hoped to be able to analyze what kind of books people borrow from “my” section, but it turns out that the software will give very little statistical information about it. So I’m left with my instincts, pretty much.
I found it surprisingly fun and difficult to give reading advice to people. I’m no sure how professional librarians do it all the time, I still wonder if I gave the right advice!
The next step is probably to order some new books, which is also very exciting. From past acquisitions I am left with the impression that people want light or middle-brow reading and bestsellers. Crime mysteries are a must too. Not that I need to buy only those titles, but at least that’s what will keep people coming… and maybe they can try something a little different afterwards.
I want to compile a list of 20-30 titles to start my negotiation with the bookshop. Any advice in the bestsellers list that I shouldn’t miss?