On Building a Teen Non-Fiction Collection

One of my goals this year at my job is to completely re-vamp our teen non-fiction collection. Our collection is fairly large already — bigger than a lot of the other libraries in the area, and especially large given that our population is only at 23,000 — but unfortunately it really hasn’t been updated since before I took this position.

My non-fiction section shortly after accepting my job.

My first task was to weed the outdated materials, or just plain wrong materials out of the section. This process took place over several years.

While I was in the process of this, I also had to evaluate why all of the materials were placed in the YA section. A LOT of the materials were not written at a teen level, and just dealt with topics that I’m sure people wanted to “protect” younger eyes from. (For whatever reason, a lot of stuff about WWII wound up over there. And a lot about Greek/Rome history…and anything specific about battles in wars.) I wound up moving about an eighth of the section back into the J non-fic area.

The non-fic section last fall, with its newly weeded shelves, where I also carved out enough space for some eye-level displays. Also, note the large graphic novel section at the end of the aisle. Yep, that was not there before!

And of course, while I was evaluating the collection I was also purchasing new materials. And working on trying to get some funding to further develop this collection. This year, I am lucky enough to have a sizable amount of the Youth Services budget to put towards the YA non-fic area. (About 13% of the total amount.)

So, where did I begin?

I made sure to get the backlists of the Excellence in Non-Fiction Award, and any Printz books that I was missing.

And then I literally went through our whole system’s records and made a giant YA non-fic database of what I wanted to buy for our collection. These titles have just started rolling in.

New books, waiting to be processed! (These came from the cart labeled “Popular Materials” and have some AWESOME books.)

This is just my starting point, and I hope to get this collection in tip-top shape. Once all my new materials come in, I plan to go through with another weed of the collection for good measure.

So, do you have any favorite sources to find teen non-fiction books? Let me know in the comments.

I’ll be back on Sunday with a review of one of this year’s Printz Honor Books.


  1. I agree with Pam: your library looks so good! It makes me wish that I was a student again! πŸ˜‰ Have you read the latest edition of The Horn Book? It’s dedicated to non-fiction.

    1. Thank you!

      I have not yet! It’s sitting in my work mailbox, buried under all my school visits stuff. I will hopefully get to it before summer reading comes! But thank you so much for the heads-up. I will definitely move it to the top of my pile.

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