But, as Spider-man says, with great power comes great responsibility. So much rides on my decisions. From several different aspects.
As far as students, I'm often put into a quandary. I have limited funds. Should I buy ten copies of Divergent? What about classics? More nonfiction? Am I limited to only "good literature?" Do I buy copies of books students clamor for, even if they haven't received good reviews? Often, students will be exposed to thought-provoking, excellent literature only if I buy it and make it available to them. (Think about how many adults only buy books some might consider "fluff"--James Patterson, Nora Roberts, etc.) But, if I don't have compelling, interesting, action-filled books many students won't read anything.
As far as parents, each family has its own set of values. A book that might be perfectly acceptable to one parent may have content that another would prefer his or her student not read just yet. But, if I don't have reading material for the diverse backgrounds, interests, maturity levels, and reading levels of the entire student body some students (mostly the older kids) will never walk through the door. Do I order John Green's bestseller The Fault in Our Stars? Only if I am willing to allow any student to check it out, regardless of age, since anything else is censorship. So, no, since that book is recommended for older teens, I don't buy it. That's a disappointment to many older students. We tell every single student that they need to learn how to select the right books for themselves, with help from their parents or teacher librarians as needed. We teach lessons on the criteria to use to choose good books.
As far as authors and publishers, the choices I make are based on reviews and recommendations from professional library journals, other librarians, and my patrons--our middle school students. This affects people's livelihood, yet I am able to spend only a minute or two on a book review before deciding if I buy the book or not. And, every new book I buy may take the place on the shelf of an older, possibly well-loved books. Do I keep the Green Knowe books? What about Homer Price? The dystopian novel that was popular four years ago?
Who knew it was going to be so hard? It's fun or order new books, and fun to open the boxes once they arrive. But each time it makes me a little sad to think about all the great, diverse books out there that go unpurchased because of limited funds that need to be spent serving the most students possible.
The order is getting turned in soon! In a month or so we'll have some fabulous new titles to choose from.
Image from https://u.osu.edu/booklaunch/files/2014/07/buying-books-1pwvca5.jpg