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This online course is no longer being updated online. It's only available through the Canvas website for the current course offering.  

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:

Our Collection

What's a collection?

ODLIS defines a collection as

"a number of documents (books, reports, records, etc.) assembled in a single physical or virtual location by one or more persons, or by a corporate entity, and arranged in some kind of systematic order to facilitate retrieval."

ODLIS defines a library collection as

"the total accumulation of books and other materials owned by a library, cataloged and arranged for ease of access, often consisting of several smaller collections (reference, circulating books, serials, government documents, rare books, special collections, etc.)."

Our libraries are filled with useful information resources, engaging literature, and exciting media. How do millions of potential works become a concise, cohesive library collection?

Many individuals and organizations are connected to the process of building and managing library collections. Let's explore the players and process including each of the following areas:

Creators: Authors, Illustrators, Artists

It all begins with an idea.

Think about the origins of the works you read, hear, and view. Each work has been carefully written or constructed.

To gain an appreciation of the creative process, it's useful to explore interviews, discussions, and biographies of artists.

Watch the following two videos.

Katherine Boo discusses the National Book Award winner for nonfiction, Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Go to National Public Radio.

In the Making of a Musician: Joshua Bell, viewers learn about this violinist through music and images. Go to Lincoln Center Videos.

On WritingFrom Stephen King's memoir on the craft of writing titled On Writing to a vast number of author biographies, there are many ways to gain insights into the lives and works of authors and artists.

Author and Artist Interviews

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Locate an interview, biography or writing resource that you think is particular compelling. How does this experience bring the author alive or provide insights into their creative process?


editingAuthors, artists, and other creators express their ideas through words, images, or music, but it's the editor who makes the final decision to accept or reject the work.

An editor is in charge of selecting and preparing text, images, audio, video, and other media. This process involves condensing and organizing information, making corrections, and creating a polished, marketable final product. In some cases, the editor begins their work with an author's initial idea and serves as a partner throughout the process. However, sometimes all that's required is a copy editor to correct minor errors.

The editing process has changed significantly in the past decade. No longer do editors use blue pencils and send paper through the mail. Today, most of the editing process is done electronically for all media.

View BookTV: Panel Discussion with Book Editors on the Future of Publishing.
How does the role of editor impact what is published?


Life of PiFrom the thousands of available titles, publishers must consider the range of materials in their market, the formats for delivery of the item, how those various formats will be priced, and the marketing strategy.

Movie trailers have always been a major tool in the promotion of films.

Increasingly, the book industry is using book trailers as a way to publicize their materials. You'll also find book-movie tie-ins.

The Life of Pi is a great example of a book-movie tie-in.


Watch the following book trailers for different types of books and book connections:
The Life of Pi (book-film tie-in)
Anya's Ghost (graphic novel)
A People's History of American Empire (nonfiction)
Richard Louv's The Nature Principle (nonfiction)

Explore the many publishers with YouTube channels. Notice how publishers are using their YouTube channels to market their materials.


Reviewers to Awards

Once a book is published, reviewers play a major role in determining how a book is received by the public. Reviews can be found in the print media as well as online.

Major Review Source Databases

Round HouseYou can waste hours searching individual review sources on the web. Instead, use subscription selection tools that access reviews from many different sources.

Let's say you heard a review for The Round House by Louise Erdrich on NPR and you want to learn more about what critics thought of this book. The quickest approach is to use one of the following book review tools. For instance, Book Review Index Online provides access to 31 reviews for this book.

Book Review Index Online from Gale is a comprehensive online guide to over five million review citations from thousands of publications. This service is available through IUPUI.

Book Review Digest Plus from EBSCO is a subscription database that provides excerpts and citations on current adult and juvenile fiction and non-fiction. Critical evaluations are selected from 109 periodicals for inclusion including Booklist, Library Journal, School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, and reading journals. This database covered the period of 1983-present. This service is available through IUPUI.

Book Review Digest Retrospective: 1905-1982 from EBSCO provide reviews from 1905-1982. This service is available through IUPUI.

American Reference Books Annual Online by Wynar is a tool for selecting reference materials. Go directly.

If you’re in a situation where you’re developing a new collection or expanding a particular area, use a core collection reference.

Let’s say you’re expanding your career development section. You might seek books on resume building using Public Library Core Collection: Nonfiction.

Useful databases available through IUPUI include:

In addition to reviews, you may also be looking for other types of information. Use the following book sources:

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Go to Book Review Index Online or Book Review Digest Plus. Look up a book you've read recently. Check your thoughts against the reviews. Then, do a general "Google Search" for your title and add the words book review. Compare your results. Go to Amazon. Are any of the reviews you found quoted?

I recently enjoyed the nonfiction work Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. I used reviews from both professional sources as well as social networks in making my decisions to purchase this title.

Individual Review Sources

There are a few well-known review sources that you should know well. In addition, you'll find that there are many journals that contain a few reviews. Blog reviews are gaining in popularity. As you become familiar with the reviewers, you'll grow to trust them.

A quick way to evaluate a review source is to search for reviews of books you've already read or movies you've watched recently. Do they agree or disagree with your perspective?

Major Sources

In most cases review journals are available through IUPUI. Unfortunately, the links aren't stable. Go into the online library and do a journal search. Or use Citation Linker to locate the subscriptions through IUPUI.

These are sources you should check regularly. They should become part of your professional reading collection.

Newspaper and Magazine Sources

You'll grow to enjoy the perspectives and approaches of individual reviewers. Locate a few that you trust and follow their reviews. Only a few have been listed below. There are many more to consider. Try searching for your favorite online newspapers and look for the review section. In some cases, you'll need a subscription to view full text. Some of these are available through IUPUI.

Literary and Review Magazines and E-Zines

Increasingly web-based magazines are becoming known for quality reviews. Many of these services also sell books, so be carefully when consider the reviews.

Specialty Websites

It's important to consider the opinions of end-users. For instance something that may seem silly to you, may become a hit with kids. Think about the popularity of Captain Underpants! You'll find websites with reviews by those in particular age groups and genres.

Social Media Review Sites

Increasingly, social networks are being used to share the buzz about particular books. Keep up-to-date on the trends by following social media sites.

Looking for more ideas? Try some of the following Book Review Lists:

Best-Of Lists

In some areas, you'll be able to find "best of" lists. These are useful for locating ideas in particular subject areas.

Books 24x7 lists the best books for computer science, infomatics, engineering, and technology. This service is available through IUPUI.

The American Library Association publishes lists of recommended Print and Media on a wide range of topics such as Great Graphic Novels for Teens and Outstanding Reference Sources. Others include Amelia Bloomer Book List, Best Fiction for Young Adults, Notable Books for Adults, Notable Children's Books, Notable Children's Recordings, Notable Children's Videos, Notable Government Documents, Notable Videos for Adults, Over the Rainbow (GLBT), Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, Adult Reading List.

For an overview of lists and awards, go to ALA Library Fact Sheet 23.

Booklist publishes it's Editor's Choice each year in the categories of Adult, Adult Books for Young Adults, Youth, Media, Reference Sources, Best Overall

A number of organizations publish booklists.

Many news publications create "best-of" lists, particularly at the end of each year.

Many groups and organizations have their own "top lists". Keep in mind that some are sponsored by publishers.

Many libraries provide book lists to explore such as the Chicago Public Library. Look for their subject area listings or reader's advisory services.

A few databases exist with best-of books beyond a particular year. Check out a few options:


For the past decade, blogs have become an increasingly important way of accessing reviews. Many bloggers like Nancy Pearl have gained a reputation for quality work. Be sure to check the authority of the blogger. Consider the website sponsors and possible bias. Use blogs for specialty areas such as law or medical materials. Also, look for blogs from your favorite journals and associations.

Media Outlets

From an author appearance on a television show to a listing on Oprah's Book Club, the media plays an important role in getting the word out about new materials. Check the major news websites and interview shows for the latest information and ideas.


Many publishers submit their books, videos, and other materials for awards. However the outcome of the awards process is beyond the control of publishers. In most cases, an awards committee uses pre-defined criteria to select the award winners.

It's important to consider the credentials of the members of the committee as well as the criteria used in making the selections. Although a book may be of high quality based on the criteria, it may not necessarily be something that your users will check out and read or view.

Keep in mind that there are awards in many genres as well as in different formats like audiobooks and graphic novels.

Awards are given in every subject areas. Often these awards are given by national organizations. For instance, the Silver Gavel award is in the area of law.

Look for unique, out-of-the ordinary award winners. For instance, Maus by Art Spiegelman is a work of graphic nonfiction. It won a special Pulitzer Prize in 1992. Normally, children's picture books are awarded the Randolph Caldecott Medal. However, in 2008 a book for intermediate readers called The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brain Selznick received this honor.

Be sure to explore the Awards page for a list of many of the awards given across genre and formats.

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Go to the Awards page a master list of awards to explore.
Do you generally agree or disagree with the results of the major awards?

Book Sellers

Booksellers are actively involved in the marketing and sale of items. While there are a few large "brick and mortar" booksellers like Barnes and Noble and Books-a-Million, there are also thousands of small, independent bookstores.

Many of these independent bookstores specialize in particular areas such as the arts, mysteries, or nature titles. For instance, Back of Beyond Books specializes in regional and natural history titles of the Colorado Plateau, Malaprops is an independent bookstore in Asheville, North Carolina, and Tattered Cover is well-known in Denver, and Powells is legendary in Portland.

Bestseller Lists

It can be useful to check the bestseller lists to see what people are reading. These lists don't review books, but instead provide information related to the publishing industry.


No longer are self-publishing companies known as "vanity" presses. Increasingly, companies like Lulu allow anyone to upload their work and have it published. CreateSpace is affiliated with Amazon and helps thousands of new authors get started.

From a local writing group publishing their poetry to a grandmother creating a family history book, everyone can participate in publishing.

Companies such as AuthorHouse and Xlibris provide services that go beyond printing and include options for marketing and distribution.

Digital Services

Most purchasing is now happening electronically. Rather than entering a store or calling a company on the phone, libraries are purchasing materials and services online.

In the past, librarians spent much of their time talking face-to-face with representatives from library services like Follett or Baker & Taylor. Today, must of this interaction occurs online.

Particularly in small libraries where deep discounts aren't available to the library vendors, Amazon and other online storefronts have grown in popularity.

Increasingly, physical items are being replaced by electronic copies. E-books, streaming video, and online music are all rapidly growing services. Librarians are now dealing with companies that provide virtual rather than physical products. They may use Overdrive for digital materials or Freegal for music downloads.

The Libraries

DivergentSo, where do libraries fit into this picture? Unlike the artist, publisher, or booksellers, libraries are not in the business of making money from their efforts, although they do have a responsibility to be fiscally responsible.

Librarians must stay one step in front of their users in anticipating new technologies and interests. Librarians try to predict user demand so they have the right materials available to meet the user's needs.

But how does the library decide what to purchase, in what format and in what numbers? Are there good, reliable vendors out there who will help libraries make those decisions, or are they all scalawags trying to make a fast buck off your taxpayer's dollar? Are you willing to give up some of the decisions to a larger body with a resource sharing arrangement with the hope of getting better service for less money? What do you pay to store and/or preserve? How do you make decisions about what you can discard? And how in the world do you handle those gift and donation materials from your patrons who may or may not have strong feelings about wanting to see those very items on your shelves – including their self-published opus? Each of these decisions should be made within an ethical framework that includes fairness, confidentiality, fiscal responsibility, and the right of everyone to equal access to information.

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Morrisey, L. J. (2008). Ethical issues in collection development. Journal of Library Administration, 47(3/4), 163-171. This article explores the Code of Ethics from the American Library Association. Do you have what it takes to be a professional librarian?

How are decisions made about the library collection?

In decision making, Lester Asheim said in 1953, "select good books rather than excluding bad ones." As we go through the semester, consider whether that still applies in 2012 in light of what users want and the funding that you have available to spend. Will you be picking apples or pears?

Raine, L. (2011). Libraries and the new community information ecology. Presented at Beyond Books: News, Literacy, Democracy and American Libraries, April 7, 2011. Pew Internet & American Life Project.

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Browse the Pew Internet - Libraries website. This website posts the latest in research on topics ranging from social media to e-reading.


Morrisey, L. J. (2008). Ethical issues in collection development. Journal of Library Administration, 47(3/4), 163-171.

Pew Internet - Libraries

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

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