This was a library school project done for Dr. Pfister's Collection Development in the spring semester of 1996. The assignment was to make up a hypothetical library, any kind, and pretend that you had received a $1500 donation to purchase materials (books, periodicals, videotapes, whatever) in a certain subject area or genre. You were to come up with a list of what the library should buy with this money, and how you picked these items.

My hypothetical situation was based on the public library I used throughout high school. It was a tiny building, with two paid employees (all other staff were volunteers), not much of a book budget, and not much of a collection in many areas. The science fiction section was quite small and mostly older than I was, and I knew nearly everything in it like the back of my hand, that being my preferred genre. The library had apparently had a Science Fiction Book Club subscription at one time, or a large donation from someone who had, but there wasn't much in the genre published later than the late seventies.

I volunteered there one summer, and they admitted that no one there knew anything about picking science fiction. They were so desperate that they took me, a sixteen-year-old volunteer, to the second-hand bookstore and asked me to pick out a few books to add to the SF section. I picked Harlan Ellison's Deathbird Stories and some others I don't remember; I was too happy at finding a copy for myself of a book I had read in the library, Tanith Lee's The Silver Metal Lover.

So I decided to outfit this library with newer SF, setting 1975 as my cutoff date so I could do an even 20 years. I went through all the library sources such as Fiction Catalog, and all the SF reference works in the University Library, and picked the books which were recommended by the greatest number of them. This is the finalists list, cut down from a preliminary list three or four times as long. Those books marked in red are the ones that made the list I turned in, because they were both the most highly recommended and still in print when I did the project.

This is not a personal recommendation list -- if it were Harlan Ellison would be on it, just to name one. The ones with purple dots by them are the ones I've actually read. (For some reason this does not seem to show up in Internet Explorer.) You can read the actual paper, which explains how I arrived at this list. This page just lists the books, with links to amazon.com if you're interested in buying any for yourself. The links lead to the hardback edition if there is one, but more commonly a paperback edition as those are often the only ones available outside the Science Fiction Book Club.

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