Buying on a Budget

I feel like budget is a topic that many people try to steer clear of. And I totally get why now.

I only had $441.60 to spend on my library this school year.

I mean, I knew that we got money based on student enrollment, and I know that I’m at a very small school, but I didn’t realize it was going to be that small. Most vendors who called me on the phone to try to sell me something didn’t even have packages that fit within my budget. I made the mistake at the very beginning of not explaining how small my budget was to one caller; he sent me a couple of boxes of fantastic books to look through that would have cost me 4x my budget. It was my fault, but I just wasn’t sure what I was doing at first.

I had a lot of trouble really narrowing down what we needed, even though there were some parameters dictated to me. Because of the transition my school is in, I was told to hold off on anything non-fiction as we will be trying to go strictly electronic resources for that as a part of the move to Learning Commons instead of Media Center.

Once that was decided, I had to consider what fiction we really needed. And with my student population, what I really needed were high-interest, low-level titles. And I had to do that without ignoring the need to include some award winners from the last couple of years.

I got lucky enough to have a vendor call me one day and actually have something he could offer me for way less than my budget and was nothing but graphic novels. Our graphics collection was abysmal, so it needed some work, but aside from that, graphics offer low level readers some place to turn. On top of that, I was given a handful of books to choose for free simply for giving their program a try. I found a bunch of high-interest, low-level readers, often suggested by ALA’s Quick Picks list, and got to choose from those.

Beyond that, I bought the NCSLMA award winners from the last two years, and added on a few extras because I was told to (apparently, that ‘Do Not Exceed’ line is extremely useful).

Also, my Department of Media Services sends everyone additional books based on a popular list and what we already have or do not have. I feel good about what I did, but it truly was a struggle to look at such a small number, knowing all of the work this Media Center needs. Of course, I probably would have been totally overwhelmed if I’d been given way more money than that.