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How it Works: Purchasing Books and More for TPL Is a Team Effort

Town Meeting voters allocate the funding, staff considers the needs of the community

By Nicole Goolishian, Assistant Director, Tewksbury Public Library 

At the library, we receive many questions about where our books come from and who pays for them, so this month, we’re peeling back the curtain to showcase how items like books, DVDs, audiobooks, and so much more end up on the shelves of the Tewksbury Public Library.

The library’s budget for purchasing materials is part of the overall library budget as developed by the Library Director, and is provided through the Town of Tewksbury’s budget following annual approval at Town Meeting each spring. 

The materials budget is then split into different categories, such as children’s, DVDs, adult non-fiction, and more. Delegated by the Library Director, librarians, and trained library staff members spend from these smaller budgets for their departments. The majority of our items come from specialized vendors who work with thousands of other public, school and academic libraries across the United States. Although online retailers can be great search tools for library staff to learn more about specific books, contrary to popular belief, we do not order all of our books from Amazon! 

At TPL, we divide and conquer over purchasing new items so we have a group of staff selecting new materials across collections as they work to find items that suit the interests and needs of our community, both educational and entertaining. When purchasing items, we try not to judge a book by its cover but rather assess the popularity and subsequent demand for an item, the relevance of information to our patrons, and the appropriateness of a subject for the intended audience. 

All TPL purchases take into account a collection development policy that guides library staff in their purchases every month that you can check out in full here

The library also seeks to add items to our collection in a variety of formats beyond books. Many visitors are surprised to learn we offer video and board games alongside large-print books, CDs, and the latest DVD releases. 

Looking for something specific but can’t find it on the shelves? Let library staff know! There are many outlets for finding you that item you are just dying to get your hands on, whether that is the library purchasing and adding an item directly to the collection, borrowing an item from a neighboring library in the Merrimack Valley, or looking even further afield through interlibrary loan where TPL staff can help you track down a hard to find item across the country. 

Email or call 978-640-4490 for help tracking something down. Check out the latest additions to the library’s collection by subscribing to Wowbrary here or by using the online catalog here. Library hours are Monday through Wednesday 10am-9pm, Thursday and Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 9am-5pm, and Sunday 1pm-5pm. 

Guest contributor Nicole Goolishian is assistant director of the Tewksbury Public Library. Her monthly column will highlight library services and provide a heads up on events scheduled for the following month that may fill up quickly.

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