Des Moines Public Library's Kathy Leonard has a dream job — she buys all the books – Des Moines Register

Kathy Leonard sits at her desk facing a wall lined with new books that staff is prepping to put out on Des Moines Public Library shelves. New books waiting to be read, loved and enjoyed sit on carts in the aisle near her cubicle.
Leonard is one of two librarians who buy all the books, movies, music, magazines and all digital items for the Des Moines Public Library system, and has what many book lovers would consider a dream job. Every month, Leonard and the library’s other collection development librarian order an average of 1,800 titles for readers to borrow.
“My favorite part of my job is getting to read reviews and look at the different lists to see what might be coming out,” said Leonard. “It’s also kind of fun when you pick out a title that is a little under the radar, and it takes off, and everyone wants to read it.”
Leonard uses industry publications, book reviews and publisher materials to pick books. She has plenty of help from library users, too.
“Our patrons are really good at finding stuff, too,” said Leonard. “We will get patron suggestions for something that is seven or eight months out. Some of our avid readers keep an eye on tracking sites and let us know if there is a book they want to read or that they heard about.”
Leonard also needs to know the demand that there will be for a title. For example, if there is a new book from Louise Penny, Leonard will order 15-20 copies, because she knows a lot of people will want to check it out. She also looks at how many copies the publisher is printing – the higher the number, the more popular they expect the title to be.
Leonard, a voracious reader herself, sees titles of books and descriptions all day every day and it could be easy to get overwhelmed with trying to choose a book to read next.
“I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, so I am probably going to be looking in those genres for my next book. I also chat with people, find out what they’re reading, and get recommendations from them,” Leonard said.
Leonard says she enjoys the convenience of audiobooks. “I listen to books a lot, and I do it when I’m running or riding my bike or walking,” she said. “I do about 90 percent of my reading through audiobooks because it’s something I can do while I’m exercising or doing something else.”
If you like mysteries and thrillers, she recommends books from Louise Penny, Anthony Horowitz, Elly Griffiths, and Tana French could be right up your alley.
Go to dmpl.org/blog to find Kathy’s most anticipated books of the fall and winter.
Signing up for a library card takes just two minutes and costs nothing at all. It’s the best $0 you can spend. Check out dmpl.org/get-carded to get started.

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