Community Builders: Westport Branch and Collection Development

This week, Building a Community of Readers will begin to highlight the wonderful things happening in different departments and branches of our Kansas City Public Library community. Building a Community of Readers is not simply an invitation to visit your local Library. We seek to empower Kansas Citians to join our efforts to become a more engaged city.

The Library is full of movers and shakers, unafraid of change, who are devoted to finding new and innovative ways to make the Library experience better.

Our journey begins with the lovely people who choose which books go on the shelf—Collection Development. I met with Debbie Stoppello, Collection Development Manager, located on the second basement level of the Central Library building.

Immediately, Debbie set me straight; Collection Development is much more than buying books. The Collection Development department manages and maintains print and electronic collections, databases, and special collections such as the Kauffman collection.

Collection Development is one of our newest departments, which used to fall under Collections Management. In the old system, development was decentralized—each branch was responsible for its own collection. Under their new system, they take a holistic approach to development. With the centralization, the department can make decisions for the whole Library system, and has successfully saved the Library thousands of dollars through their evaluation process.

With different branches, serving different demographics, and working rather autonomously, it can be challenging choosing what is best for collections overall, but the Collection Development department makes every effort to find new ways to streamline their system.

Inside the first floor of the Westport branch,
managed by Megan Garrett.

In November of 2013, Megan Garrett was promoted to Branch Manager at our Westport Branch. For one of her first undertakings, Megan met with Debbie Stoppello and Erica Voell from Collection Development to reorganize Westport’s collection.

They created a list of things that had not been checked out recently, or were needed at other branches. With the proximity of the Westport branch to both the Plaza branch and Central, Westport receives many returns. During the weeding, reorganizing, and shifting period, the team was able to send some great books to the two other Libraries. For months the three of them worked diligently on the collection.

In the end, Westport’s adult fiction was moved downstairs to improve circulation, the teen collection remained upstairs, but with a new space for teens, non-fiction moved upstairs, and new books are now displayed front and center, to give many patrons better access to what they want.

I asked Megan how the patrons responded to the new system. She said they have been positive, if not at first a bit confused. But, that is what our great Library staff is for. “We’re happy to help them find the stuff they are looking for,” Megan said.

The project was completed in April, in time for the monthly board meeting, which was held at the Westport branch.

Debbie and Erica’s work in Collection Development, and their work with Megan in the Westport branch are just a couple of many examples of teams of people who are working to make the Library a part of a sustainable community.

Many people can see when changes need to be made, but it takes someone special to decide that they are the person to do it. The Library is made up of those people, who work every day to make the experience inclusive to all people, regardless of background, and to add to the wonderful landscape of Kansas City.

Keep up with Building a Community of Readers to learn more about the exciting projects happening to turn Kansas City into one of the most literate cities in the country.

A city that reads is a city that leads!

About the Author

Alex Krause is the Building a Community of Readers Project Director. Originally from Omaha, she has been in Kansas City long enough to stop using the excuse that she’s “new to this town.” Alex enjoys traveling, the outdoors, dabbling in cooking, and will quickly tell you of her years in a Pantomime Troupe.

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