Decreasing book budgets

CC image – flickr.com – Tax Credits

I found this article really interesting:

“How Low Can Our Book Budgets Go?” by Steve Coffman – American Libraries

The book (or rather materials) budget has been stagnant at my library since I’ve been working here for the past two years. I definitely have seen the increase in books being published, even just from 2012 to 2013. I feel like I’m reading many more Young Adult book reviews than even and I find it hard to keep up as well as decide what to buy for our collection. It’s getting a little out of hand!

Coffman thinks that we’re doing a disservice to our communities and our library brand by shrinking our book budgets, buying mainly popular titles that people want, and purchasing a high proportion of DVDs. I agree that DVD circulation will probably go down with the popularity of streaming services such as Netflix. (And we all know how scratched-up library DVDs get.) But it’s simply not possible or responsible to add more money to a book budget when there is no space to keep the books or no one interested in reading them. Keeping up a building is expensive. Paying staff is not cheap. Buying and maintaining computer equipment takes a good amount of cash. Books are our brand but we can’t acquire everything.

Another wordpress blogger & author Pat Bertram wrote about publishing statistics issued by Bowker:

300,000 books were published in the U.S. 2003.

411,422 books were published in the U.S. in 2007.

1,052,803 books were published in the U.S. 2009.

Approximately 3,000,000 books were published in the U.S. in 2011.

And . . . drum roll, please . . . in an online interview, Seth Godin suggests that 15,000, 000 books will be published in 2012.

15,000,000. Yikes.

Google estimates that as of August 2010, there were 129,864,880 books in existence. Which means that the total number of books that could be published in 2012 is more than 1/10 of all the books in existence. That is an unfathomable jump, a 500% increase in a single year. (That is correct, right? 3,000,000 times 500% = 15,000,000.) Unbelievable.

My thoughts exactly. Still, the book budget article brings up some interesting points. I just don’t know what the right answer is.

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4 Comments on “Decreasing book budgets”

  1. Although we can’t hope to purchase most of the books published nowadays, it’s still important to maintain an up to date collection of new, clean books that appeal to the patrons of each library:

    http://blackcountrylibrarian.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/keep-buying-new-books-for-libraries/

    • Lindsay Cummings says:

      I spend a decent amount of money on replacing old, worn-out, damaged books that are still extremely popular. So yes, it’s not just new books I’m buying, it’s oldies but goodies too!

  2. Jenny says:

    The “How Low Can Our Book Budgets Go?” article made a few valid points and presented some interesting statistics, but the author is the VP of LSSI, which should cause us to consider the piece with a grain of salt. Of course we want to keep buying new books (and replacing popular old ones, and weeding unpopular old ones – in other words, collection development), but it’s impractical to buy anything like the old percentage of books published, as that number has skyrocketed (and how many of those are self-published)? Does anyone really walk into their library looking for a good book and leave empty-handed?


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