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Book Buying Party

San Jose Public Library

Problem Statement

The San José Public Library system conducted a city wide survey of the teen population in 2009. A majority – 62% - of the teens stated that they would use the library more if there were better books and media. In a time of limited budgets and staffing we needed to find a way to improve the teen collections through better feedback from our teen customers.


Each location of the San José Public Library system has a teen advisory group which meets on a monthly basis. Each of the 19 locations holds a yearly Book Buying Party, spread out across the calendar year. Using print catalogs, trade journals, several blogs, publisher and book seller websites, the teens suggest titles for the library system to buy. They also use a customized YouTube channel to look at book trailers and other information from publishers. All materials are assembled and updated on a regular basis by a librarian from the San José Public Library system. The focus of the suggestions is material of interest to teen customers and covers non-fiction and fiction in all formats (print, e- and audio-books) as well as media. All suggestions by the teen advisory groups are reviewed by the central selectors and ordered as the budget permits. To make sure the selection process is a fun event for the teens involved we highly encourage teamwork, play music and have some food available.


In 2010 we started the Book Buying Parties as a pilot at two branches in our library system. The teen-selected items were compared to the traditionally selected ones and we saw a 57% increase in the circulation of the sample in the first two months. In addition, 72% of these items were on hold or checked out within the first two days of availability. As a side effect, this program has improved communication with our teen customers and raised interest in our teen advisory groups.