Saturday, August 21, 2021

REVIEW: Sudden Position Guide to Acquisitions (nonfiction book) by Deborah Hathaway, Paul Kelsey, Stacey Marien, and Susan E. Thomas

Sudden Position Guide to Acquisitions is nonfiction. I read it for work-related reasons and got my copy via interlibrary loan.


Don't let this book's slim size fool you - it's an excellent resource, and I can't recommend it highly enough for someone who's either just gotten their first job as an Acquisitions Librarian or who has suddenly had Acquisitions duties added on to their regular duties. I was facing the latter situation when I originally requested this via ILL, and if library administration hadn't suddenly changed their mind and given those duties to someone else, I'd have purchased a copy and kept it on hand as I tried to learn my new job. As it is, I'd like to own a copy simply because it's helpful for understanding work that overlaps somewhat with my own (I'm a cataloger).

I don't recall my library science program having any Acquisitions courses. It had Collection Management courses, which I took, but that's not the same thing. There's more to Acquisitions work than evaluating titles, book packages, and products for purchase. Depending on how things are set up at your library, you may have to know something about accounting, contracts, the ordering process, different types of acquisitions models, budgets, vendor negotiation, and more.

This book very broadly covers the basic things Acquisitions librarians should know or learn. It should definitely be supplemented with on-the-job training and additional professional development. One of the things I'd planned to do was sign up for an ALCTS 6-week course called "Fundamentals of Acquisitions," and that would still be part of my plan if those duties hadn't been shifted to someone else instead. That said, this book gives you an excellent overview of the kinds of things you'll need to figure out, the questions you should be asking, and the situations you should be preparing for. It also covers standards and best practices, which could guide you in figuring out areas where your library's Acquisitions practices might be improved.

While it's geared towards new Acquisitions librarians (and seems to be most useful for academic librarians, although it does mention things public librarians might face), I could see this book also being very useful to new Acquisitions paraprofessionals, since it covers basic Acquisitions terminology.

If you're overwhelmed with new Acquisitions duties, absolutely get this book. You may still feel overwhelmed after reading it, but at least you'll have a better framework to start with than most "intro to collection development" books would give you. I've recommended this to the coworker of mine who's been given Acquisitions duties instead of me, and I hope it helps her figure out some good ways to move forward in the areas of the job she's less familiar with.


  1. Great review! I agree, I don't think collection management courses cover all the finer points of acquisitions (although I did do more acquisitions-related work in my position than most of our other librarians). This looks like a really useful book.

    1. I liked it so much that I plan to try the two others in the series. One is on Cataloging & Metadata, so it may cover a lot of things we already do, but there may very well be useful "best practice" info I don't know about.