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I received just 4 responses. I've copied them below. Thanks to all who had
suggestions. Below is my original request followed by the 4 responses.

Original request:

My son is a junior at a university where they have 12 residential colleges,
each with its own library of several thousand volumes. Most volumes are old,
they are not a circulating libraries, there are no librarians, but they
(mostly my son and another student) have made an effort recently to catalog
all the books and reinvigorate their residential library.

He now has been given approximately $3800.00 to spend to add to the
collection and is asking for recommendations.

He's thinking of current releases by public figures, such as Obama's book
and the Yale Book of Quotations, both of which I've recently purchased for
him personally and that he thinks would make good additions to the

Do you have any suggestions, both in terms of current titles (possibly but
not necessarily related to the upcoming election) and also just in terms of
titles that you think should be in a library such as this one. Again, there
is no circulation (I'm not sure if that will change - they may institute an
honor system of some type if they get books that someone actually wants to
borrow). It is a place where students go to study and maybe browse a litte.

I thought he should have a good dictionary, such as Webster's Third, even
though most of them use online dictionaries, I'm sure. I was also thinking
of The World Almanac and Book of Facts. And I think it would be great for
them to have the OED, but I'm not sure they're willing to spend that kind of
money on the one source. Maybe some info. on graduate schools, tests, etc.?
I'm also thinking of history books (if there are any) related to the
residential college and maybe the town they're in. Maybe some books written
by the Master and Dean of the residential college - or past Masters and

Keep in mind that the main university library is right around the corner.

Thanks for your suggestions.


1) Suggestion:  Ask him to write a small article in the school / student
newspaper detailing the work they've done and what they hope to accomplish
in the future.  Ask other students for their suggestions as to what THEY
want and provide an email address so that your son can quickly get responses
Maybe he could also get a small committee together to provide an Open House
one afternoon and list that in the newspaper article as well.
2) Given the fact that they have a lending library around the corner with
more serious items, I might spend the vast majority of it on
browsing/entertaining type items that would be of high interest, things kids
would just want to sit down with when they need to decompress.  Maybe some
Humor type books.  He can just pop over to a bookstore and browse through
that section for some ideas.  Most people love flipping through stuff like
that. Some serious items like you mentioned like the Obama book seem like a
good idea, which is something kids might want to read just for the heck of
it.  I don't know if I would get any of those LSAT or whatever type books
because those will walk away really fast and will get written in.  Maybe a
few Grad School guides, though, for reference, although they get outdated
really fast, so maybe just one of those.
3)With the university library right around the corner, it seems to me the
best things to invest in are the things people might need immediately, when
working on papers and such.  Your ideas of dictionary and almanac,
definitely.  Perhaps a good current atlas, and the newest MLA and ALA
handbooks would be useful, and books of quotations and poetry.  Does each
college specialize in an academic area?  If so, whatever the most important
journals are for that specialty.
All I can think of :-) Best of luck to your son.
4) What about _A Patriot's Handbook Songs, Poems, Stories, and Speeches
Celebrating the Land We Love_ Selected and introduced by Caroline

Thanks again. If anyone has any further suggestions, feel free to send them
to me.

Sarah Woo
MS Librarian
Holten-Richmond Middle School
Danvers, MA 01923

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