One of the big jobs within the library is that of a Collection Development librarian. Joplin Public Library is well-served in this role by Linda Cannon. She is in charge of all the ordering and receiving of materials before they go to the Technical Processing Department, where they are cataloged and prepared for circulation.

 

Linda’s job difficulty is compounded when a title or author is very popular. We try to be good stewards of taxpayer money, yet we also would like to make sure people can find the materials they want. This means we need to buy multiple copies of many items.

 

That’s the rub. If a title is extremely popular, and we were to buy 40 (I just grabbed that number from nowhere) copies of the title so no one had to wait for long, that means there are “X” number other titles that cannot be purchased. Then, say we DID purchase 40 copies of the same title, a few months later most people who want to read that book have already done so, and we are stuck with 40 copies of a book no one is checking out any more.

 

So, the rule of thumb we use is when a book has six or seven unfilled requests we will add another copy of the book. That policy didn’t help me out a few weeks ago. I decided to read the book “Divergent” by Veronica Roth. I realized it was a popular book and I would probably have to place it on hold to get.

 

I have library cards at a couple libraries. At JPL I was number 15 for the print version and about number six for the audio version. (Since that time another print copy has been added, and another audio copy was just donated so it will be available soon.) At the library in Barton County I was number eight on the list. For the downloadable e-book from MoLib2Go, it was even worse; I was about number 215!

 

Fortunately for me, my daughter had the set, so I got her copy to read. I expected the book to be enjoyable but was not prepared for an “I-don’t-want-to-put-this-book-down-to-get-the-housework-done” or an “I-really-should-quit-reading-and-go-to-bed” type read. Although the book is not great literature, it grabbed me and held on throughout.

 

“Divergent” is set in a dystopian future Chicago. People have been divided into five factions based upon their personalities and beliefs. There is Amity (based on friendship and peace), Candor (based on black-and-white truth), Erudite (based on knowledge and intelligence), Abnegation (based on selflessness) and Dauntless (based on courage and bravery).

 

Once each year, every 16 year old is given a simulation to see which group fits their personality. They are then given a choice: Remain in the faction into which they were born, or transfer into a different faction based on their simulation results.

 

The problem with this comes when the simulation is inconclusive. This is what happens to Beatrice, or Tris as she renames herself. Tris is a Divergent, one who shows strong characteristics of several factions. The Divergents are hated and pursued by the leaders in control who know Divergents will not easily “fall into line” and succumb to their control.

 

Tris chooses to leave her home faction of Abnegation, trading in her gray, nondescript clothing to be a part of the Dauntless faction, complete with their piercings, black clothing and tattoos. While trying to hide her identity as a Divergent, she also must conquer her fears, prove her strength and learn to trust her faction, all while surviving tests and violence. (Think “Hunger Games” and “Survivor” on steroids. This book has a lot of violence in it.)

 

In the process of Tris discovering who she really is, she comes to the realization that the groups have strayed from their chosen ideal, and many of them have used their strengths to harm and control, rather than for the good of society.

 

“Divergent” has been made into a very popular movie. Everyone I’ve spoken with says the book is better than the movie (aren’t they always?) and that it does not follow the book plot very well.

 

I really can’t give a clue how this turns out, because “Divergent” is part of a trilogy, and I still have two books to go. I’ll pick up book two, “Insurgent,” from my daughter tonight. (There are 13 holds on it at JPL now.) She says number two is just as riveting. You can pity my poor husband, Mike. I guess that means I won’t get much else accomplished this weekend!