I have a toy. A fun toy. A toy that gives my little librarian heart a hop, skip and a jump whenever I get to use it. The name of my toy? Collection HQ. It’s a program that allows me to see exactly how well the books in my library do or do not do in a given year. The best part is that the folks that created it (who are Scottish, oddly enough) keep updating it with cool new features. Here’s an example: I can see titles that are “Dead On Arrival.” What does that mean? It means that when a book comes in and doesn’t get checked out for 6 months (or is only checked out once) it is officially DOA. And now I can see the names of those very titles. This is a good indication of where I need to control my spending.

Which areas of the library circulate the least? Apparently I’ve been a bit too profligate with Religion, Sociology, and Biographies. Photography, Medicine and Economics are also a bit on the chunky side too.

I can control my spending from here on in, but what to do with the books I already purchased? They’re good books, after all. They received stellar reviews or else I wouldn’t have bought them. The solution? Well, I can make displays of them, of course. And why don’t I highlight some right here today? Books that deserve a second chance at life, doggone it.  
Won’t you check out these lovely books from your library today?

Photography “Cindy Sherman, Imitation of Life” by Cindy Sherman
This magnificent book encompasses the full scope of Cindy Sherman’s career, with a special focus on the cinematic quality of her oeuvre.

Music “Beatles Vs. Stones” by John Campbell McMillian
A lively examination of the most legendary (and least understood) rivalry in the annals of rock ’n’ roll. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said, “If you thought you knew everything there was to know about these two groups, think again.”

Political Science “Look for Me in the Whirlwind: From the Panther 21 to 21st Century Revolutions” by Sekou Odinga
As Kirkus said of it, “This book demonstrates the scope of the Panthers’ intellectual gifts as well as the compassion and revolutionary spirit at the center of their radical grassroots activism.”

Biography “My Father, the Pornographer: A Memoir” by Chris Offutt
In “one of the most sensitive, nuanced examinations of father and son relationships” (The Boston Globe), award-winning writer Chris Offutt struggles to understand
his recently deceased father, based on his reading of the 400-plus novels his father – a well-known writer of pornography in the 1970s and 80s – left him in his will.

Criminology “Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate” by Zoe Quinn
An up-close look inside the controversy, threats, and social and cultural battles that started in the far corners of the internet and have since permeated our online lives.

Betsy Bird

Betsy Bird is the Collection Development Manager of Evanston Public Library. She has been writing for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.