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Chicago Public Library gives patrons more say in book purchases

Updated: November 17, 2013 6:18AM

Have you ever wondered why on earth the Chicago Public Library system doesn’t have more books about soapmaking or mind mapping?

Now you can change that.

In an effort to give readers more of what they want — particularly if it’s a little obscure — the library has started a pilot program that lets borrowers select books for the library to buy.

“In a way, it’s something patrons won’t even know exists,” explained library spokeswoman Ruth Lednicer. The program began in late September, with a $300,000 Illinois State Library grant.

The money allows the library system to expand its offerings by about 13,000 titles during the next two years. When a lender puts a hold on one of the new books in the existing online catalog, it triggers a purchase of that book, Lednicer said.

“This allows us to get books that are focused on more specific interests,” Lednicer said, but “not so obscure that one person in all of the city of Chicago wants it.”

Some 5,250 titles have been added since the end of September as books available for the library to buy. Titles include: “The Everything Soapmaking Book,” “Jane Austen, Game Theorist,” “The Handbook of Bird Photography,” and “Mind Mapping For Dummies.” To date, lenders have ordered about 100 of those new titles.

The new books represent a tiny portion of all books the library system acquires in a single year.


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