Book Picking: Fast and Furious

Books! We want books! Library budgets are tight. Every penny counts. Choosing the right book is extremely important. Enter the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC). It’s a marvelous study and research library of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Each year, the CCBC receives about 3,000 newly published children’s books from publishers and authors, who are hoping to garner an honored place for their book in the annual CCBC Choices.

Twice a year the library has a book sale — open to all.  It’s a librarian’s dream come true. Hardcover fiction and nonfiction books that are not kept in the CCBC permanent collection and gently used books donated by CCBC members are available to purchase. Some books are free! This is a not to be missed event. Many of these books have library bindings, and they’re cheap! But you have to be quick on the draw.

Be aware. You’re competing against seasoned librarians – librarians who know exactly what they’re looking for and how to get it. They come with boxes, bags, crates, and suitcases, aiming to fill them. The pace is fast and furious. Books are grabbed off tables like they were precious gold. Now you see it. Now you don’t.

The book sale was two weeks ago. It’s a wise choice to be there early. My husband and I were fourth in line. (He keeps my stash of books safe.) While we waited outside the room, I stared through the windows, checking out the tables of boxes. There weren’t many picture books, but lots of middle grade fiction, young adult fiction, and nonfiction.

I had weeded many old and tired nonfiction books from the shelves of my school library and was in desperate need of current nonfiction books to please my readers. Books on natural disasters, sports, cars, motorbikes, jet planes, mummies, animals, and wars were hot topics for me. The nonfiction sale section looked promising.

At eight o’clock the doors opened and the race was on. My trigger fingers went into action, flipping through nonfiction books and politely grabbing those I wanted. I found age appropriate books on poetry, baseball, dinosaurs, pandas, pumas, seals, the skeletal system, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, mummies, robots, hot air balloons, shipwrecks, sports teams, snowboarding, and biographies. Next up – picture books. A quick glance told me the picture books were slim to none and had been picked over. I passed on them and went to the middle grade and young adult books.

These books are always more difficult for me to choose. I don’t want to buy books students won’t read. I want them to be just as excited about a new book as I am. I knew I needed books that boys would readily pick up and read – sports books, books with eye-catching covers, and books with unique titles. I also knew I needed more multi-cultural books to add to the school collection. Books with horses in them were on my list, too. At the fiction table I looked at author names, book titles, and covers. If the author or the book spoke to me, I quickly read the inside flap or back cover of the book to make my decision. Of course, this isn’t the way I like to choose books for the library, but when it’s a choice of have or have not, I just do it.       

How did I fare? I ended up with 56 hardcover books. I love them. This Tuesday I’ll begin book talking them. I can’t wait.

Was my book picking fast and furious? According to my husband, who was watching everyone else, the answer was no. Darn! I guess I’ll have to work on my quick draw for the spring sale and keep my trigger fingers in shape.

If you’ve never been to the CCBC, you must check it out in person or online. And if you happen to be in the area for the spring book sale, be there or be square!

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One Comment on “Book Picking: Fast and Furious”

  1. Vicki Says:

    I used to LOVE this booksale!


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