How Do Libraries Decide Which Books to Buy?

Libraries typically adhere to specific selection policies when it comes to selecting books for their shelves, due to limited space and budget considerations (librarians are typically book lovers who take great pains in discussing deaccessioning quietly).

Bestsellers sell more copies than poetry collections, books on economics or even James Patterson novels; when your book and marketing plan come together seamlessly it makes it much simpler for libraries to select you as their author of choice.


Every year, over one million books are published. Libraries simply cannot buy all these titles without breaking their budgets – depending on size of budget a small rural library might only receive several new titles annually while larger systems might purchase hundreds or even thousands.

The selection process is an ongoing one that seeks to balance multiple factors in order to build the most useful and diverse collection possible. Key considerations in selecting materials are demand, demographics, relevance and quality – with libraries usually developing criteria based on these considerations as a guideline for selection decisions. In addition, local needs and desires may also play a part in this decision, leading to shelves dedicated to local authors, rare languages or localized specialties in collections exclusive to specific locations.

Libraries often utilize distributors to purchase their books and eBooks, similar to what bookstores do when stocking up. Libraries may request specific titles from vendors which will then be added to their wish lists for later purchase.

Librarians regularly review and evaluate their collection to remove items no longer useful or relevant to patrons, which is commonly known as “weeding.” To make the best weeding decisions, librarians may refer to an authoritative manual such as CREW: A Weeding Manual for Modern Libraries in order to make effective decisions about “weeding.”

Libraries do not censor their collections; however, they remain cognizant of any books which might cause division or conflict within their communities. As part of this commitment to diversity and providing diverse viewpoints on issues like gay marriage or abortion. This can be especially crucial when discussing hotly debated subjects like this.

So it is no surprise that libraries can often face challenges regarding the content of their materials. Therefore, the library’s collection development policy should clearly outline criteria for choosing books in case a challenger questions whether a particular title meets library standards.


Since over one million books are published every year, libraries often do not purchase all of them. With limited budgets and resources at their disposal, libraries should make the best use possible of whatever money they do have available to them.

Size matters when making selection decisions at libraries, too. Large libraries typically have more resources to devote to purchasing new materials than their smaller counterparts, enabling them to afford multiple copies of titles unlike rural libraries that may only be able to purchase one copy at once.

Librarians must carefully consider the value of each book they consider purchasing before deciding if they should make the investment. They consider factors like its literary and academic merit, demand for its title, as well as cost (both initial purchase price and ongoing costs such as shipping processing preservation costs). They will also evaluate if their library already owns another copy or whether interlibrary loan offers them access.

Librarians must also consider how the content of a book might impact its readers in the community, taking into account things like whether or not it contains racist or hateful language, and whether any agenda presented within could harm any demographic population. Their goal should be to offer books which represent as many viewpoints on any given topic without bias or censorship.

Libraries tend to be hyperlocal, and this can be seen in their collections. You might discover that your local library features regional authors or books in languages you don’t often encounter – it may seem unusual at first, but libraries should respond to what their communities want by providing access to books that address specific concerns and demonstrate openness towards diverse perspectives.


Idealistically, libraries should purchase books impartially. Unfortunately, this is often impossible due to numerous factors which come into play when making this decision – these may include popularity, duration on market and borrowing history of book. Furthermore, cost considerations and availability through other channels such as second-hand stores need also be taken into account as well as considering patron demographics and views when making purchase decisions.

One way to increase a book’s chances of being purchased by a library is to present an in-person pitch. This gives librarians an opportunity to ask questions and view it themselves; plus it makes persuading them easier!

An effective pitch should showcase the distinctive qualities of your book while providing a clear and succinct overview of its content and benefits for libraries. A compelling pitch may include any awards or reviews your book has received as well as information about purchasing it by libraries. Finally, include sample chapters as well as purchase options available to them to complete this pitch effectively.

Though there are various strategies for selling books to libraries, the key is using the appropriate approach. Sending multiple librarians a direct email likely won’t do the trick; rather, individual librarians should be approached directly so they can make informed decisions regarding their collections.

Libraries lack the power to negotiate prices with publishers directly, unlike retail bookstores. That is why some libraries are taking action against Macmillan’s e-book pricing policy in an attempt to force changes from them. Meanwhile, Green urges Massachusetts library systems to send a letter asking Attorney General Maura Healey to investigate Macmillan’s anti-library practices.

Libraries play an essential role in providing access to an array of viewpoints and demographics for their patrons, providing access to multiple perspectives. While this may involve curating specific books from their collection to ensure it contains current, relevant resources available.


Staff members at libraries face a complex set of tasks when it comes to selecting books, DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks for stock. Decision-makers rely on multiple sources when making their selections: their experience, bestseller lists, Publishers Weekly reviews and patron requests as a basis of decision. Budget constraints sometimes prohibit buying items that will remain on shelves unread for years on end – something staff must bear in mind when making selection decisions.

Libraries typically focus their non-fiction library selection on subjects of general interest to both their patrons and community at large. They generally avoid books that take an academic approach to a topic, or are exceptionally costly – these don’t tend to get checked out very frequently by library patrons, meaning the library may not see much return on its investment when purchasing these titles.

Librarians typically avoid purchasing limited editions or books with high price tags due to storage limitations, theft or loss concerns and difficulty replacing damaged or worn copies if damaged or worn down. A book with sturdy bindings is also important when selecting books for stock.

Self-published authors don’t have complete control over how libraries select books to add to their collections; however, you can take steps to increase your chances of getting onto those shelves. Many libraries use classification systems such as Library of Congress Classification System or Dewey Decimal System to organize collections – this ensures books on similar topics are placed together and allows librarians to search online databases using call numbers to find your book more quickly and efficiently.

Make sure that your book has an ISBN number and legible spine to increase its chances of being added to libraries’ collections. Each library will have different requirements and processes when adding books; you should contact local libraries in your area to understand these processes and requirements; every library must decide for themselves which criteria are most essential when adding to their collections; nevertheless, all libraries strive to provide their patrons with access to an array of literature that will meet all their needs.