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Old 04-28-2014, 06:41 PM
Green Bean is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: NJ, Exit #137
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Further explanation:

One of the librarians at my local public library suggested that the science fiction book buyer might be interested in speaking to me about how to improve their collection. (I was grousing about it, and I guess I sounded more constructive than crank-ish.)

Given that I've spent the last 10 years or so trying to identify and read the "core canon" of science fiction and of the post-apocalyptic subgenre, I find myself in a good position to be useful in that regard. I've read a LOT of lists and and commentary over the years, including many threads from this board, and I have I let those guide me in creating my own reading program. Some lists out there are just some random guyís personal favorites, but there are many others that represent attempts more objectivity or widespread consensus. I also found it helpful to see what books won important awards. There is a lot of variation between lists, but many books pop up over and over. Those are the ones I wanted to read.

The local library proved to be a poor source of books as their SF collection is sorely lacking. They do have a pretty good selection of notable books released in the last 15 years or so, and they're covered on works that are general literary classics, but I just wasnít finding most of the books on this or that list. Also, a public library in an affluent town of 30K really ought to have Starship Troopers on the shelf. And The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Caves of Steel, Childhood's End...okay, Iíd read all those before I started this, but you get the idea. The situation gets worse as you move away from the best-known authors and books. They do have some good stuff, but the selection is extremely spotty. (And to be clear, Iím not criticizing the librarian who chooses the new acquisitions!) The inter-library loan system helps a little, but it seems to be designed specifically to discourage you from using it and other local libraries collections seem to be not much better.

Ultimately, Iíd like to see the library have most or all of the more freqently-recommended science ficiton books, including at least a few of the most important works in various subgenres.This list of 50 is the beginning of my attempt to improve the situation. 50 wonít cover it, but itís a start.

As for why I'm keeping this initial list to 50 - By keeping the "absolute essentials" list to 50 and including literary classics, Iím minimizing the number of books that Iím suggesting they get as soon as possible. They do have the vast majority of items on my preliminary list. I don't want to walk in there and say "your collection sucks," you know? I'd rather start off with a more positive spin, establish some cred, and emphasize that I'm trying to be constructive more than critical. If they seem interested in further improving the collection, then we can move to the next tier on the list.

I stipulated in the OP that neither shelf space nor budget was an issue for this list of 50. Perhaps that was an over-simplification, but I didn't want those concerns to affect the discussion. They certainly have enough shelf space to add the few books that they would have to get to fulfill the list, but I don't know how much more they have for further expansion. It looks like they have lots of empty space, but I don't know how these things work in practice. Budget need not be an issue if they will accept donations and would support me working to fundraise for further expansion of the sci fi collection. Naturally I'd only be donating or working to get what they would actually put on the shelf.

I hope you can see why I also stipulated that short-story anthologies are not to be included in the list of 50. They should definitely be in the collection, but donít fit with this list.


My preliminary list coming later tonight.