New libraries use a process called “collection development” to decide what books to purchase as well as what books to discard. Books are usually purchased through jobbers or book dealers. Ingram Content is a major one to these companies that takes care of the entire process: collection, purchasing, and processing of the books for what is called an “opening day collection.”

I spoke with a representative of the Boston Public Library and she told me that many libraries opened early in the country’s founding received many of their initial books as gifts from other countries, as they did in 1841 from France.

Typically, larger public libraries will supplement this “opening day collection” with local interest books and media such as local history, food, and tourism.


The Library of Congress was established April 24, 1800, when President John Adams signed an act of Congress transferring of the seat of government from Philadelphia to the new capital city, Washington DC. Part of the legislation appropriated $5,000 “for the purchase of such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress… and for fitting up a suitable apartment for containing them.” Books were ordered from London, England, and the collection originally consisted of 740 books and 3 maps which were housed in the new US Capitol.

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  1. The world´s most expensive known fine for an overdue library book is $345.14. It’s the total of a 2 cent per day fine since 1955. The book was “Days and Deeds” and it was checked out of the Illinois Kewanee Public Library by Emily Canellos-Simms.
  2. The Little Free Library stations are the smallest libraries in the world. They have room for only one reader at a time.
  3. The Al-Qarawiyyin library, located in Fez, Morroco, is the worlds oldest library. It opened in 1359 AD, inside of the world’s oldest university, which was built in 859 AD and bears the same name.

  1. East Baton Rouge Parish Library Information Services. “Re: Initial set of books from Boston Public Library.” Message to Ryan. 4/6/2018. E-mail.
  2. Boston Public Librarian. “REF UN 04.26.18 BPL’s initial set of books – cwg.” Message to Ryan. 4/26/2018. E-mail.
  3. – 10 Fascinating facts about libraries