By Will Broaddus
---- — A service called Wowbary, now operating for the second week at the Salem Public Library, allows patrons to learn about new books, CDs and movies.
By clicking on “This Week’s New Arrivals” on the library website, patrons can see the books’ jackets, read selections from their pages and access reviews that readers have posted online.
“It’s an optional service from North of Boston Library Exchange” (NOBLE), said Nancy Tracy, director of the Salem library. “About five of the libraries chose to go with this.”
A menu on the left margin of the Wowbary page lets visitors examine books by category and also sign up to receive email alerts about new items.
Salem’s new books and other materials are selected at weekly meetings by committees of librarians, who often base their decisions on reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal.
“We also keep up on the best-seller lists, in Publisher’s Weekly and the New York Times,” Tracy said. “We also take recommendations from patrons, so it’s pretty collaborative.”
The library must spend 13 percent of its budget on materials to maintain certification from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, she said. Grants from the state sometimes allow them to spend more.
In the past, images of book jackets had to be downloaded and entered separately by library and technical staff — a time-consuming process, Tracy said.
Now they simply enter new titles in the NOBLE catalog; Wowbary adds the jacket images and combines it with other information.
In addition to giving the library access to Wowbary, NOBLE sends the library purchase alerts that tell them how many patrons at their branch have requested a particular book.
“Which is really helpful, because we really want to buy what our patrons want,” Tracy said.