The ‘Chihuaha’ Ratio

TPL management gives me grief that some of my suggestions would never have met its “selection criteria.” The criteria aren’t published, and in any event, TPL’s sole option is to say no to the request, not harangue me personally.

At any rate, let’s compare how many copies of items I’ve suggested have been acquired compared to the number of copies of a known stinker and the hot-hot-hottest! title on the fiction charts. Then let’s divide one into the other.

  • All my suggestions: 481 copies of 36 items

  • Beverly Hills Chihuaha and sequel: 118 copies

  • Fifty Shades trilogy (all formats): 635 copies

That gives me a Chihuaha Ratio of 4.07 and a Fifty Shades Ratio of 0.76. I’d say I’m doing pretty well for myself and for fellow users of the Toronto Public Library.

(You can run your own comparison against other items known to be atrocious, like The Love Guru, or items bought in huge quantities, even if for good reason.)

What am I really trying to say here?

  • My suggested titles aren’t a drain on the budget. They’re a drop in the bucket.

  • The library should buy trashy items like Beverly Hills Chihuaha, just not in huge quantity. (60? Sure. 118? No.) In other words, I am not Sue-Ann fucking Levy and the library is not a Victorian drawing room packed to the rafters with dusty, unfingered copies of worthy tomes.

  • The library should sometimes buy at least a couple of copies even of badly-reviewed items (e.g., Hard Core Logo 2) if there are additional factors at work (here, continuation of the Hard Core Logo book/movie/graphic-novel series).

  • Popularity is only one component of the acquisitions process. Claimed selection criteria – though unpublished, hence easily fudged or used as a cudgel – are another, as is taste. In fact, the bundle of popularity, criteria compliance, and taste are what decide in favour of or against acquiring a title. It’s disingenuous to suggest only one of those factors is at play at any given time. The library doesn’t only buy mainstream or classy or well-respected items, nor the converse of any or all of those.


2 thoughts on “The ‘Chihuaha’ Ratio

  1. Yes, except that criteria for TV shows remain unpublished, and in any event you saw how much wiggle room is in there. Of course there has to be, as I acknowledged above.

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