Print Friendly and PDF With Strings Attached: Season's readings

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Season's readings


In 1983 Isaac Asimov was a speaker at the first PLA (Public Library Assn.) national conference.  He recounted his childhood experience of going to the library. His parents limited him to two books a week so he would check out the thickest books he could find since he read so fast. As an adult he had money to buy his own books. "And now," he said, "people send me books!"

At this time of year people send me books, too.  The picture at the left shows Friday's delivery. Here's the story.

One of the most rewarding ALA committee appointments I've had is the University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries committee.   Each year publishers who belong to the Association of American University Presses (www.aaupnet.org) select the new books they think would be useful to public and school libraries and send them to the committee members, who are public and school librarians, to evaluate.  We don't have to read them all. Rather, we rate them as outstanding, general interest, regional interest, or special interest.  Our recommendations are published in a bibliography available both in print and online. (www.aaupnet.org/librarybooks).  We write one-paragraph reviews for our "outstanding" selections. At the ALA Annual Conference six of us (three school, three public) give a booktalk for the Best of the Best.  
About 90 books.  Average list price $35 each = $3150

In the fall the AAUP marketing coordinator asks committee members to designate our preferred Dewey Decimal subject categories and assigns accordingly.  This year I hit the jackpot!  I have 200-289 (Religion/Bible and Christianity), 300-305 (Sociology, Anthropology), 550-599 (Earth and Life Science), 640-649 (Home Ec), 730-759 (Art - Sculpture, Textiles, Drawing and Painting), 940-942 (UK and Ireland history), 970-979 (U.S. History).

My history with the committee:  I was first appointed in 1990 and served two two-year terms.  At that time it was a joint AASL (American Assn. of School Librarians) and PLA (Public Library Assn.) committee.  I volunteered again in 2008 and have been on the committee ever since. Usually ALA committee appointments are two two-year terms, but in 2010 when I tried to re-up with PLA I found out that the committee had been dropped when PLA reorganized. (They neglected to inform any of us.) I protested and the PLA board agreed to extend "provisional" status for a year. I was appointed chair. After that year the PLA board decided to eliminate the committee.  It has always been part of AASL. The public librarians sought a new home.  We found it in RUSA/CODES (Reference and User Services Assn. / Collection Development and Evaluation Section).  I was appointed the chair for two years.  Now I'm "just" a committee member. 

When I was working the books were shipped to me at the library.  I would bring home few books  that I thought my husband would like.  This year they are delivered  at home. My husband is astounded (he never realized just what I did on this committee) and he's having a great time looking at them.  I'll get to the work of evaluating after the holidays. Those we don't choose to keep will be given to ZBPL.

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