Purchasing books for our school library is a task I take very seriously, and it is also one of the most exciting parts of my job. Before I add a book to the school library, I want to be sure it is (a) appropriate for a Catholic school environment, and (b) has what I like to call “readability”. The books I have placed on my library wish list for the upcoming Barnes & Noble Bookfair have been reviewed and scrutinized by me using these two criteria.
Determining if a book is appropriate for our school can be difficult, though I take many measures to try to insure each book meets these criteria. I research new books by reading a monthly periodical called the School Library Journal. New books are reviewed and I can get a pretty good idea about the content and if I want to pursue the book further. If so, I then look up the books on Amazon.com where in most cases I can view the front cover, inside flap, and various pages throughout the book. I also read the reviews posted on Amazon from various sources. The next step I take is to visit the public library and local bookstores to see if they have the book in stock. If so, I look through it more thoroughly and will even read the entire book as time allows. Then, I will make the decision if it should be purchased for our school.
I also take into consideration books the students have recommended. In the library of building four, I have a binder labeled “suggestions for St. Patrick School library”. This binder is accessible to all students to write down books they think would make a good addition to the library. I also take appropriate steps to check out these books through the same means listed above to insure they are appropriate before I make any purchases.
Regarding “readability”, this mostly applies to the younger grades where the children are having their books read to them. I ascertain if a book is one that I as a librarian think the children would enjoy if I read it aloud to them. Some books are way too wordy or difficult to follow, or have too much dialogue, and if I think that is the case, I rule out purchasing that book. I think of you parents sitting with your child and try to imagine how you would feel reading the book to your child. Some books are worthy to purchase for various other reasons such as the artwork or special issues the book addresses.
Although I cannot vouch for all the books in our school library purchased by my predecessors, I do make every effort to look through our collection as time allows to be sure the books meet our standards. If you come across a book your child brings home from our school library and you think it is inappropriate in some way, please bring it to my attention and I will look into it further.
I hope to see you at the Bookfair on December 5. The proceeds and book purchases made during this bookfair are the main source of our library’s new materials throughout the year.