Collection Development

Collection Development is arguably the most important aspect of Library and Information Sciences.  With the growth and changes in both libraries and technologies, it is imperative that libraries, or other information environments, regularly update their collections.  Updating and regular maintenance of a collection is vital to the success of an information organization.  An information professional must be able to assess the state of his or her chosen collection and act accordingly.  The collection development process does not only include adding new items to the collection; it also includes removing old, outdated, irrelevant, or damaged items, finding and utilizing external resources, such as consortia, to find the gaps in the libraries’ collections, and regularly surveying users to assess their needs.  Evans and Saponaro define collection development as “the process of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of a library’s materials collection in terms of patron needs and community resources, and attempting to correct existing weaknesses, if any” (Evans et al 2012, 22).

This semester long project completed in Development and Management of Collections has been selected as an example of real world application of the concept of Collection Development.  This Collection Development plan is currently being applied and updated during a practicum.  This product includes these seven areas:

1. Parent Organization

2. Development Rationale

3. Community Analysis

4. The Policy Statement

5. Information Agency

6. Collection Evaluation

7. Selection

Collection Development is currently part of the researcher’s practicum experience; one of the practicum objectives is to create a collection development plan that will be eventually be implemented by the library system.  This is an area of interest to the researcher now and in the future.  Upon examining the teen section at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library, the need for developing this collection was obvious.  The Collection Evaluation project explains the need for developing the collection for the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library.  After questioning employees and performing extensive searches in Sirsi, it was concluded that there was a lack of new or relevant nonfiction items, and very few requested books on specific topics like art or music were ordered.  The  goal is to add new materials to the collection, and base the item selections on patrons’ requests and needs.  For example, one young patron was assigned an essay based on what he thought his career would be once he had graduated.  He requested books about working as  a DJ, but unfortunately, there were no books in the library or the Mississippi Library Consortium that matched his request.  Despite searching through the consortium’s collections, this researcher was unable to find resources the student deemed to be satisfactory.  Since then, the researcher has frequently had requests for books similar in subject, and several requests for DJ-ing books as well.  The outline provided through the previously listed Collection Development Project will be followed, but that project is more of a hypothetical guideline rather than an actual plan.  A more specialized plan will be created after spending more time in the teen section and interacting with users of that part of the library.  In the future, the collection development skills collected through my classes, practicum, and work experience will hopefully be applied to a larger collection.

During the first week of my practicum, Lindsey Miller, my practicum supervisor and the Youth Services Coordinator of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library, informed me that the library had received an LSTA grant through the Mississippi Library Commission for a project called “The Boys of Fall”.  The Boys of Fall focuses on teen boys in Lowndes County, Mississippi, in middle- and high school with very low reading levels.  A sizable portion of the grant was devoted to buying new materials for the middle- and high school age group.  These materials could include books, movies, and games for the Teen Section of the library.  Ms. Miller instructed me to focus on materials that would be of interest to urban boys from fifth through twelfth grade.  I have developed this spreadsheet based on the grant.  It lists the materials I have ordered with the grant money, using my previous collection development project as an example.

From my experiences in collection development, I have learned that communicating with patrons or users is a key to maintaining and developing a collection.  Knowing what the patrons require is necessary to building an effective user-centered collection.

Reference

Evans, G. Edward, and Margaret Zarnosky Saponaro.Collection Management Basics. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2012.

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