Meet the Librarian: Carrie Anderson

Carrie Anderson at the Central Library

What she does: Information Services and Collection Development Librarian. She started with the Des Moines Public Library in 2013.

How would you describe your job with DMPL?

"I spend the morning in the Technical Services department working on ordering all of the materials for the library — books in all formats, DVDs, CDs, magazines, and eBooks and eAudiobooks — along with my coworker Kathy Leonard. We also create reports for all six locations, using branch statistics and the library analytics website Edelweiss to create a summary of their circulation trends and most popular sections, and offer suggestions for areas that they could increase or consider consolidating.

"I spend the afternoons in the Information Services department at Central Library, helping people at our various service desks, and working on other projects like setting up displays and planning programs."

When did you know you wanted to be a librarian?

"I have always wanted to be a librarian, but I decided for sure that I wanted to go to library school and pursue this career when I worked at DMACC Urban Library after college. By then I had already worked at three very different libraries, and I had learned I loved all aspects of the job, from shelving books to helping people get what they needed. DMACC was where I fully realized that libraries are more than a place to check out piles of new books, as awesome as that is, but a place that can change people’s lives."

What was the path to get you into your current role?

"I started at DMPL as a library substitute in 2013. In 2014, I was promoted to a full-time librarian at the East Side branch. I loved East Side and my job there, but one of the things I enjoyed most at East was my work with its collection, and I had been interested in ordering materials for the library for a long time, so I jumped at the chance to apply when this position came open."

Why do you enjoy working for the DMPL?

"I love almost all parts of my job, especially the variety of what I get to do each day. In fact, what I enjoy the most IS the variety, and that I get to see almost every stage of the library experience. I love that in one day I might order books, put up a display of the new books we ordered recently, and help a patron find or put on hold the book they were looking for."

Explain what goes into the process of selecting books and other materials for the library?

"Kathy and I primarily order materials from a few different library vendors. They send us lists and carts that we go through and we select what to order and quantities based on reviews, demand, and ensuring that a variety of topics, interests, and perspectives are represented in DMPL’s collection. We browse online and physical catalogs for upcoming publications and then check to see what formats the work is available in and what we might want for the library.

We keep an eye out for big titles coming out, or books that might all of a sudden become popular after being featured on a TV show or given a boost on Twitter or another form of media. While we order the bulk of the materials for all of the branches, the librarians at each branch also order items for their libraries and we often communicate with them about special projects. They might want to create a new series in children’s books or bulk up a section of their adult nonfiction or spend a memorial (donation) that was earmarked for a specific topic. Sometimes they select those materials and other times we do that for them within their preferred guidelines."

So how many books does the library actually order?

"We've ordered 56,000 items, which includes things like DVDs, audiobooks and CDs, in 2018.

How do you determine what quantity of a book to order? Is it strictly past performance of an author?

"It is largely based on past performance, especially with popular and bigger authors. We also consider reviews and look at the estimated print run to get a sense of how big the book is expected to be. Gut instinct plays a role, as well, especially in quickly combining all these factors to make a decision, since we cannot spend endless time on each title.

But sometimes there is no predicting what titles will take off — for example, Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis — and then we just pick up more copies after the publication date so people don't have to wait too long."

Can a library user suggest or request a book?

"Yes, absolutely. You can go to our Books and More page and fill out the purchase suggestion form. If we are able to purchase the item, it will automatically be put on hold on the user's account within a couple of weeks. We have a few guidelines, which are listed on this page, but we do our best to get the books people want."

When you’re off the clock, what are your hobbies/interests?

"Reading. I also enjoy cuddling with my 1-year-old daughter, making Blue Apron meals, and knitting."

What are you reading right now?

I am reading The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams et al., and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, and I am listening to The Hollow of Fear by Sherry Thomas.

Anything coming up at the DMPL you’d like to highlight?

We are making some really exciting changes to Central's second floor in the new year. I think it's going to be a more welcoming space, and I hope people come visit!

Also, group of librarians at Central are planning a Book Club Speed Dating event in April 2019. Attendees will leave with dozens of great suggestions for their book club or personal reading lists. It’s going to be tons of fun!