Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Best New Magazines

A good, ever-evolving, high-circulating (and I mean circulating the back issues so much that they fall apart) magazine collection is a cornerstone of a great popular materials collection.

Library Journal publishes an annual round-up of the best new magazines, and the most recent iteration of the round-up is available in the current issue. I'm already a fan of some of these titles (like Make) and look forward to delving into others (like knitscene and Cookie).

Now is a good time to start thinking about what magazines you want to keep for next year, what titles you'd like to add, and which ones you want to phase out altogether or replace with a fresher, more appealing title.

Run a circ report on your back-issues (and if your back-issues don't circ, for heaven's sake, start pushing for them to do so!) to see how well or how poorly your titles are doing, and look for patterns. If your crafts magazines are circing like crazy, add a title or two. If it's automotive titles that really flip your patrons' lids, bulk up that section. Look for patterns in declining circulation, too. Maybe your community has more seniors than parents, and so titles like Child, Parenting, and Brain, Child (my personal favorite) aren't doing so well any longer. You could pare that collection down to the one essential title of the bunch and dedicate the subscription money to an area that your users can't get enough of.

Some tips for weeding and adding to a magazine collection:

  • Maybe you have to do all of your ordering once annually (at my library, we make changes to our subscriptions in October). In that case, start this process at least 3 months in advance, so you can preview magazines, gather patron input, and make informed decisions about the collection.
  • Before you spend money on a full-year subscription, use some petty cash to preview a few months' worth of issues of prospective titles.
  • Display the preview issues prominently, and put a sticker on the front cover that says something like "We're thinking of subscribing to this magazine -- let us know what you think!"
  • Encourage your users to participate in the process of developing and maintaining the collection -- post a link to an online survey (through Surveymonkey, for example) asking for their opinions about the magazine collection and what titles are their favorites, their least favorites, and what titles they wish you subscribed to.
  • Finally, let your users in on the changes as you make them. Post the survey results at the Circulation Desk, in the magazine area, and on your webpage (or better yet, your blog, where you can file your magazine-related posts under the category of Magazines). Create signs that say things like "You spoke, and we listened! We're stopping subscriptions to X, Y, and Z magazines, and we're going to add titles A, B, and C. Bid adieu to the old and say hello to the new, starting in November."

There's nothing like giving your magazines collection a spruce to make the whole collection seem more appealing.

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