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Question for librarians: How do you feel about series books?

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Jenn Bertman
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A question for any librarian Blue Board members. A critique partner mentioned that her close friend, who is a librarian, has a deep dislike for series books and didn't keep them stocked in her library (series meaning like Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Babysitter's Club--I'm blanking on more modern examples at the moment--but not series with an overarching plot arc, like Harry Potter). My friend suggested that this is a general feeling among librarians. I could use this tidbit of librarians disliking series books to good comic effect in my WIP, but I wanted to get a sense from more librarians on whether it is, in fact, common to find librarians who dislike series. (I know not ALL librarians would feel one way or another about any topic. But I'm curious if this is a common feeling among librarians, similar to how many writers will cringe when another celebrity publishes a children's book.)
#1 - May 09, 2014, 10:56 AM
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I buy popular series all the time. Rainbow Magic Fairies, Cupcake Diaries, Heidi Heckelbeck (sp), Warriors, Geronimo Stilton ...

I find when I "take a chance" on a new series it often circulates better than standalone titles. Like "The Misadventures of Edgar and Allan Poe."

I can see a very old-school librarian being very snooty about series. Also, if I had a very very tiny budget it would be difficult, knowing I had sunk a huge portion of it into one author's/corporation's books vs. giving a lot of authors a chance.
#2 - May 09, 2014, 01:02 PM
Youth Services librarian and YA writer. Wisconsin SW (Madison area) Rep.
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Jenn Bertman
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Ah, interesting. Your feedback is really helpful, Amanda. Out of curiosity, do you have any of the Nancy Drew series at your library?
#3 - May 09, 2014, 01:24 PM
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We have lots of series at my medium-sized library (including Nancy Drew), but there are often gaps. If books get worn out or lost, we don't always replace them. But, if someone is looking for a missing book, it's easy enough for us to borrow it from another library. So, to answer the question, we don't particularly dislike series, but if we get the first couple of books and they don't get checked out much, we wouldn't bother buying more of the same. Like Amanda mentioned, Rainbow Fairies are very popular. Also, Magic Tree House and other older series where it doesn't really matter if they are read in order. We obtain a lot of these chapter books through donations, as well.
#4 - May 09, 2014, 01:46 PM
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Yep, we have Nancy Drew but they were all bought a million years ago. I have ordered a replacement or two when one is damaged or lost, however.
#5 - May 09, 2014, 01:59 PM
Youth Services librarian and YA writer. Wisconsin SW (Madison area) Rep.
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Kids in my elementary school library love series--they eat them up. :-) For young readers especially, once they're hooked on a character, they want to read everything about that character ever written. I've never heard of a school librarian who doesn't stock series and talk them up to kids. They almost always come in paperback, so they're a relatively inexpensive purchase; if they don't circulate, we simply don't replace lost copies.


We have all the ones mentioned so far in this thread, and other popular ones include Mermaid Mysteries, Stone Rabbit, Bone, Amulet, Monster Fight Club, A to Z Mysteries, Junie B. Jones, Magic Tree House, Secrets of Droon, Boxcar Children (now they come in graphic novel format), Dragon Breath, Goofballs, The Field Trip Mysteries, Judy Moody, and Capital Mysteries.
#6 - May 10, 2014, 03:58 AM
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I'm not a librarian but...wouldn't refusing to stock popular books be considered a little unethical these days? I know when 50 SHADES OF GREY was a big deal, libraries were saying not to shelve it just because they didn't like it would be an ALA violation of the right to read. School libraries have age-appropriateness issues but I think having a snobby attitude toward series books or graphic novels is pretty passe. And Nancy Drew is such an oldie, a librarian refusing to shelve Nancy Drew makes me think your book would be set in the middle of the last century. If it's contemporary, I'm guessing the librarians who would be ordering your book might not be very pleased with the portrayal. (Although if their patrons asked for it they would order it anyway!)
#7 - May 10, 2014, 06:14 AM
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Jenn Bertman
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Mara, I'm in agreement with you. I was a little surprised to hear that librarians might shun series books (I think for this particular person they stocked what was asked for and what was popular, but not the classic Nancy Drews or Hardy Boys or older series because they aren't popular anymore. And again, this is all according to my second-hand source who might have misunderstood her friend's feelings or actions.)

All this feedback has been very helpful to me (and I welcome more input if there are others who haven't chimed in). When my critique partner mentioned this, I actually bristled at the feedback, initially, because it didn't jive with my personal feelings and perceptions about libraries. And it meant revamping one of my characters/storylines based off this feedback. I still think the character/storyline needs some revamping, but I'm going to ignore the feedback about librarians being anti-series since it clearly sounds like that doesn't ring true here.
#8 - May 10, 2014, 10:45 AM
BOOK SCAVENGER, Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt 
THE UNBREAKABLE CODE, April 2017
UNLOCK THE ROCK, 2018
jenniferchamblissbertman.com

Old Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, Hank the Cowdog, etc. are still popular. Not as popular as newer series but still quite popular.
#9 - May 10, 2014, 11:05 AM
Youth Services librarian and YA writer. Wisconsin SW (Madison area) Rep.
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Jenn Bertman
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That's good to know since my book revolves around a character being a huge fan of Nancy Drew!
#10 - May 10, 2014, 12:40 PM
BOOK SCAVENGER, Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt 
THE UNBREAKABLE CODE, April 2017
UNLOCK THE ROCK, 2018
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Yep, we have Nancy Drew but they were all bought a million years ago.

Back when Nancy was driving a snappy new roadster, I bet. Is she into a hybrid now?
#11 - May 10, 2014, 01:05 PM

Haha, AnneB. There is a Nancy Drew graphic novel series that's popular, and the computer games have somewhat of a cult following even by adults because they are supposed to be really, really good. Looks like there are popular apps too. It is very believable to me for a child to be super into the old ND series as well as the new iterations, etc.
#12 - May 10, 2014, 02:40 PM
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Our daughter much preferred the older NDs. The newer paperback stories weren't as good (to her, at least).
#13 - May 11, 2014, 07:55 AM
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I like series just fine, and so do all of the other librarians I know. My library is a pretty big one, so we have space for a ton of series (and a few years ago we pulled the series that take up the most space to put them in a separate series section to free up room in our general juvenile fiction room).

When I worked in a smaller library, we had to be more picky about which series to buy, but that was a space and budget consideration, not a dislike of series. If a library chooses not to stock Nancy Drew, it could easily be because they are easily acquired from nearby libraries and don't circulate well enough at this particular location to justify the space.

It's so often a space consideration. Even though we're a bigger library, our YA room has nearly reached it's limit. We're always trying to figure out ways to get more space, but sometimes there just isn't room to squeeze in another shelf or expand in other ways. We try to buy as much new stuff as we can, but that means we have to be pretty ruthless when weeding. And it means our manga collection isn't as developed as we'd like because so many of those can reach 30 volumes or more, so it's a big commitment if you want to keep up with those.

And, at my library, the most popular series at our library are not taking up space other books could be using because we never see them on the shelf. We probably have about 10 copies of Divergent, but all of them are checked out and are put right back on the hold shelf as soon as they return. By the time the demand has died down, many will be worn out and discarded or put into storage.
#14 - May 11, 2014, 08:22 AM
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I'm not a librarian either, but my son has read all of the Nancy Drew and Hardy boys books including the Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew chapter books and the Hardy Boys graphic novels. (He gave upon Trixie Belden as too scary this year, but he had no trouble with the original Nancy and the Hardys - because they are older and he felt they could handle more. He worried much more about Trixie. There's a thought for the industry.) The Nancy movie was within the past decade too. I think you are okay with having a Nancy fan - perhaps a true mystery fan who favors Nancy.
#15 - May 12, 2014, 11:42 AM
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