Book Selection and Purchasing: Organization

HCL spends approximately $9.3 million on acquisitions annually, of which Widener's portion (devoted to the social sciences and humanities, as well as general reference materials) is $5.7 million. The remainder is divided up among a variety of much more specialized libraries, some of which have collections that overlap Widener's.

To maintain efficient decision-making at this high level of purchasing, the organization of the Widener book selection division parallels that of the publishing trade. Thus, book selection groups are divided into regions within which publishers are located.[18]  This enables the bibliographers to develop detailed knowledge of specific publishers, to track their catalogs and other advertisements, to review national bibliographies when available, and to keep apprised of new suppliers or other changes among existing presses in their areas of responsibility.

This organization is sometimes described as "language based,'' but this is not accurate, despite the correlation between the two descriptions. For example, the decision to purchase an English-language book published by Scandinavian publishers is made by the Scandinavian section. (For purchases of very expensive and complex materials, more than one section may be involved.)[19]

The non-Widener libraries in FAS make purchasing decisions without consulting Widener's staff. Since these are substantively focused libraries with smaller acquistions budgets, most of their purchasing is organized by subject area. All Harvard University Libraries, including those in schools outside FAS, list their book acquisitions in HOLLIS.[49] This "bibliographic control'' via HOLLIS prevents some unnecessary duplication in purchasing, but more importantly provides a centralized facility for users to locate the books they desire.