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Collection Planning and Policies

After completing this session, you'll be able to:

Begin by viewing the class presentation in Vimeo. Then, read each of the sections of this page.

Explore each of the following topics on this page:

Collection Development and Management

What is collection development and management?

working planning

Collection development and management is the systematic creation and ongoing enhancement of a collection of resources to meet library user needs and address the library's mission.

Collection development and management is a process accomplished through strategic planning, assessing needs, analyzing collections, establishing collection policies and procedures, budgeting, selecting and deselecting resources, acquisitions, cooperating with other libraries and organizations, and evaluation.

ODLIS defines collection development as

"the process of planning and building a useful and balanced collection of library materials over a period of years, based on an ongoing assessment of the information needs of the library's clientele, analysis of usage statistics, and demographic projections, normally constrained by budgetary limitations. Collection development includes the formulation of selection criteria, planning for resource sharing, and replacement of lost and damaged items, as well as routine selection and deselection decisions.

Large libraries and library systems may use an approval plan or blanket order plan to develop their collections. In small- and medium-sized libraries, collection development responsibilities are normally shared by all the librarians, based on their interests and subject specializations, usually under the overall guidance of a written collection development policy."

ODLIS defines collection management as

"the application of quantitative techniques, such as statistical and cost-benefit analysis, to the process of collection development, usually limited to large libraries and library systems. In a more general sense, the activity of planning and supervising the growth and preservation of a library's collections based on an assessment of existing strengths and weaknesses and an estimate of future needs."

try itRead!
Genco, Barbara (September 15, 2007). 20 maxims for collection building: contemporary collection development involves art, science, and business. Library Journal, 32. Read what the director of the Brooklyn Public Library thinks about the current status and future of collection development.

 

Collection Development Planning

There are a number of reasons why planning is important. For some libraries, there are legal reasons that necessitate planning. For others there are institutional reasons, the operational roles the process can play, external reasons, and the value of the process itself.

Legal Reasons. In Indiana, one of the minimum standards for public libraries is to have a plan. Go to www.in.gov/library/standards.htm to view these standards. Public libraries in other states have similar standards.

In many states the Department of Education provides guidelines for school library collection development. Go to Indiana Dept of Education Collection Development Policy for School Libraries Collection Development and read the Indiana guidelines.

Institutional Reasons. The identity and mission of the library can be supported and clarified by a strong collection development plan. The plan can define the relationship between the collection and the overall institutional objectives. It allows observers to see the collection as a whole, not just as a combination of individual pieces. The plan can support development of a relationship between the collection and programs. Gaps are more readily identified. The plan involves the library in overall institutional planning, such as curriculum development in schools. Priorities can be established based on information gathered during the planning policy. By engaging members of the library community, stakeholder support can be built. Finally, a good plan can minimize undue pressure, either internally from personal bias or externally from political or community pressure.

training

Operational Reasons. A collection development plan can help improve the overall operation of the library. If the plan addresses staffing issues, it can determine who has responsibility for which steps in the collection development process rather than leaving that at the whim of whoever steps forward. For new personnel, the plan can be used as a training tool to help them better understand the culture of the library. It can also be used as a working tool for selectors, somewhat akin to a cookbook. Continuity and institutional memory can be preserved, and a rationale for budget requests often emerges from a plan. Additionally, benchmarks can be established for evaluation functions.

External Reasons. In addition to the internal reasons addressed, there are a few external reasons for developing a plan as well. One is that the resources of the library can be related to those of other institutions either for resource sharing or evaluation. The plan can also clarify the institutional emphases to outsiders establishing a focus that can be used to explain why one area is added to the collection while another is not. Finally, the plan can be used as a basis for fundraising for special projects such as a program to reach adults with special needs.

special needs

try itRead!
Orr, Cynthia (2010). Collection development in public libraries. Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, Third Edition, 1097-1105. Explore an overview of collection development in public library settings. The contents of this article can easily be adapted to fit other library settings.

 

Collection Development Process

The process of collection development can have value. Engaging the community can increase support for the library.  Because libraries are most frequently supported by taxpayer dollars, the plan can be used to become more efficient and make better use of resources. The process can offer early warnings of problems that may be emerging such as over-selection in specific areas due to purchasing bias. The self-study involved in developing a plan can help identify opportunities for collaboration within the community, such as funding from the Lions or Shriners to support the needs of people with disabilities, or with other libraries. 

your future as a wifeIf the plan is written in such a way that you can measure success, you enhance the likelihood of a successful outcome. For instance you might state that the science collection will be maintained so that 85% was published within the last ten years to ensure currency.

If your career collection still includes "Your Future as a Wife", it might be time for some updating.

Finally, and possibly most importantly, the very nature of the planning process demonstrates that you are making an investment in the institution’s future, not just assuming that because the library has been here in the past and is here today that it will be just like it has been in the future. Lack of forward thinking by libraries may be one of the contributing factors to their loss of funding today.

Key Questions

As the library considers developing or updating a plan, there are questions that need to be answered in the preliminary planning process. Only after getting the answers to those questions can the library begin to develop a plan.

The questions include:

Browse library

The written plan has a number of confounding contradictions. Like most plans, the collection development plan attempts to express the ideal while being grounded in the real. You are taking time to put the plan in writing; however, changes in technology, service population, economy, etc. require opportunities for the library to be dynamic and fluid. There is an expectation that the plan will cover all elements of the library collection by being comprehensive; however, there is the necessity for it to include details.

Stakeholders

Libraries need a collection development plan that details planned spending on resources for the next three to five years. Harris (2008) suggests involving others in the process:

"a library advisory committee, including teachers, could help craft this document and ensure your budget as a funding essential. Such a plan also shows administrators that you are deliberate and thoughtful in your spending and provides a base from which you can address the impact budget reductions will have on the long-term health of the collection. This plan also provides a strong platform for envisioning the future by addressing changing needs."

try itRead!
Jacob, Merle (1990). Get it in writing: A collection development plan for the Skokie Public Library. Library Journal, 115, 166-168.

Collection Development Elements

There are universal elements to the plan, such as inclusion of intellectual freedom principles; however, the plan should be specific to the particular library it is designed to represent. Long-term development goals should be represented in addition to short-term decisions.

Lack of time or staff can be given as reasons for not bothering to develop a plan; however, lack of compliance can easily lead to inefficient use of the taxpayers’ dollars. 

The document itself is one document with many parts. It should be written for use within the library by the staff and board as well as outside the library by stakeholders and users. The current status of the library should be clear, as should the future perspective. Which means there should be some fixed elements, but flexibility to handle the changing nature of almost everything. 

The elements of the plan include the description, mission, values and priorities, collections, and other policies. As the plan is being developed, keep the primary audience in mind. Is it user friendly? Flexible? Attractive? Distinctive? In other words, will the overall collection development plan get you where you want to be?

A plan includes a wide range of documents, resources, policies, and procedures related to the collection. It should include the following elements:

Mission

The library’s mission is an important element in any planning process, because the mission guides the functioning and decision-making. Some would call it the north star; however, the value of the mission for this purpose depends on the quality of the statement. There are a few sample mission statements for you to review to determine whether they would provide direction in developing a collection development plan. In each case, the library has clearly outlined its function to demonstrate what it does and give an indication of areas that are not part of their function. Explore the following examples:

try itRead!
Draper, J. (2007). Mission statement—Do we have one? Indiana Libraries, 26(4), 29-31.
Compare and contrast the mission statements from various libraries.

Values and Priorities

valuesThe plan should give an indication of areas of the library that are valued or priorities. This should not only come through in the mission statement, as you see in the Carmel High School statement, for example, but also through the decisions that are represented throughout the plan.

While the values and priorities must be addressed, bias has no role in a collection development plan.  The plan should remain free of political, religious, ethnic, etc. leanings so all users have equal access to all types of information.

Collections

Once there is an understanding of the library community and its mission and values, the plan can focus on collection development. One role of the collection development plan is to define staffing responsibilities so it is clear who handles what aspects of the process. This should minimize duplications and maximize effective use of resources. The plan should also provide guidance for acquiring and deselecting materials. Readers of the plan should have a clear idea about areas of collection depth (e.g., local history) and formats to understand what types of materials are added to the collection and which are not. This is where the library spells it out so the school principal, mayor, or university or corporate president can understand how the collection fits within the community that it serves. If any of those leaders come in to question why an item was purchased or discarded, you have a plan that justifies your decision making.

Collection Development Policy Statements

ODLIS defines collection development policy as

"a formal written statement of the principles guiding a library's selection of materials, including the criteria used in making selection and deselection decisions (fields covered, degrees of specialization, levels of difficulty, languages, formats, balance, etc.) and policies concerning gifts and exchanges. An unambiguously worded collection development policy can be very helpful in responding to challenges from pressure groups."

Your plan may include other specific plans or policies within it.

Collection development policies are based on the mission of the library. As a result, the contents can vary tremendously depending on the setting. Explore some examples:

Evaluation

It is important to state that the plan should be developed with measurable outcomes in order to better determine whether you are actually doing what is in your plan. Don’t think you can develop a plan and let it collect dust on a shelf. The plan should be a dynamic, vital tool used for ongoing evaluation and improvement.   

Increasingly, libraries are posting their policies on the web.

try itRead!
Corrigan, Andy (2005). The collection policy reborn: A practical application of web-based documentation. Collection Building, 24(2), 65-69.

The Policy

The collection development policy should be a document that is constantly in use. Gregory (2011) states that collection development policies should provide staff and users with the following information (p. 33-34):

Examples

Looking for collection development policy examples? Do a Google search! Or, check out some examples below:

The Real World

In most cases, a collection development plan will already be in place when you're hired for a library position. However, it's one of the first documents you'll want to locate. Unfortunately, it may be in an old, dust-covered binder located in the back room. To be useful, documents must be living works that evolve with the changing needs of the library and its users.

The collection development policy serves many purposes including protecting the library from criticism and challenges. Gregory (2011) states that a quality collection development policy should protect the library in the following ways:

try itRead!
Vickery, Jim (2004). Making a statement: reviewing the case for written collection development policies. Library Management, 25(8), 337-342. Explore arguments for the importance of having flexible, written policies.

try itRead!
Pickett, Carmelita, Stephens, Jane, Kimball, Rusty, Ramirez, Diana, Thornton, Joel & Burford, Nancy (2011). Revisting an abandoned practice: the death and resurrection of collection development policies. Collection Management, 36(3), 165-181. Examine one library's experience rediscovering their collection development policy statements.


Resources

Arizona State Library. (1996). Collection development training for Arizona Public Libraries.

Carter, B. (2007). Leading forward by looking backward. School Library Media Connection, 25, 16-20.

Corrigan, Andy (2005). The collection policy reborn: A practical application of web-based documentation. Collection Building, 24(2), 65-69.

Draper, J. (2007). Mission statement—Do we have one? Indiana Libraries, 26(4), 29-31.

Genco, Barbara (September 15, 2007). 20 maxims for collection building: contemporary collection development involves art, science, and business. Library Journal, 32.

Greiner, Tony (2010). Performing collection use studies with Microsoft Excel 2007. Collection Management, 35(1), 38-48.

Gregory, Vicki L. (2011). Collection Development and Management for 21st Century Collections. Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.

Harris, Christopher (December 2008). Taking care of business. School Library Journal, 54(12).

Hoffmann, Frank and Wood, Richard J.(2007). Library Collection Development Policies: School Libraries and Learning Resource Centers. Scarecrow Press.

Hughes-Hassell, Sandra and Mancall, Jacqueline (2005). Collection Management for Youth: Responding to the Needs of Learners. American Library Association

Jacob, Merle (1990). Get it in writing: A collection development plan for the Skokie Public Library. Library Journal, 115, 166-168.

McMinn, Stephen H. (2010). Evaluation of motor vehicles, aeronautics, astronautics collections using White's Power Method of Collection Analysis, Collection Management, 36(1), 29-52.

Nixon, Judith M., Freeman, Robert S. & Ward, Suzanne M. (2010). Patron-driven acquisitions: An introduction and literature review. Collection Management, 35(3-4), 119-124.

Orr, Cynthia (2010). Collection development in public libraries. Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, Third Edition, 1097-1105.

Pickett, Carmelita, Stephens, Jane, Kimball, Rusty, Ramirez, Diana, Thornton, Joel & Burford, Nancy (2011). Revisting an abandoned practice: the death and resurrection of collection development policies. Collection Management, 36(3), 165-181.

Shirkey, Cindy (2011). Taking the guesswork out of collection development: using syllabi for a user-centered collection development method. Collection Management, 36(3), 154-164.

Smyth, E. B. (1999). A practical approach to writing a collection development policy. Rare Books & Manuscript Librarianship, 14(1), 27-31.

Snow, R. (1996). Wasted words: The written collection development policy and the academic library. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 22, 191-194.

van Zijl, C. (1998). The why, what and how of collection development policies. South African Journal of Library and Information Science, 66, 99-106.

Vickery, Jim (2004). Making a statement: reviewing the case for written collection development policies. Library Management, 25(8), 337-342.

White, Howard D. (March 2008). Better than brief tests: coverage power tests of collections strength 1. College & Research Libraries, 155-174.


Portions of this page were adapted from Collection Development & Management by Irwin and Albee (2012).


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