Collection Development

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I was really interested in reading the collection development articles for this week because I’ve actually been buying for several different collections for the past few years. When I started at my library I was part of the adult department so I purchased for the High School collection (fiction and nonfiction) and graphic novels. Now that I’m in youth services I buy for the middle school collection (we call it YA) both fiction and nonfiction, graphic novels for all ages through 8th grade, and DVDs.

Collection development is something I’ve learned through on the job experience. But there’s always good new things to learn. I loved the tip from one reading this week to look at books that are marked as long overdue or missing–chances are that it’s missing because it’s a popular book and needs to be replaced. I also liked the idea of taking multiple copies off the shelf (leaving one or two of course) of required reading books for the summer. That way you can open up space for more new books and bring out the other ones next summer. I’m going to see if we can make that happen at our library.

Utilizing the teen advisory board is key. Knowing you have the input of teens to help let you know what’s popular at the moment and what’s fading is really useful. Right now we also use our Anime Club to get their insight on what manga series we should continue or let go. Let’s face it, we’re not the experts on it. But they are, so they’re input is crucial. It frees up time for us that can be put towards additional program planning and makes the teens feel an even deeper connection to the library.

Something that I haven’t always paid the highest attention to is our collection development statement. I’m going to make sure that I copy the pages relevant to my section and put them at my desk where I can quickly see it. It’s a really helpful and important tool when it comes to making a choice on whether to add something or not to the collection.

Making sure the collection that you’re purchasing for has what your patrons need is so key. It’s more than just putting materials in a cart and sending it off to be ordered. You’re creating access to materials for patrons, giving them new stories to discover, and making sure the collection stays healthy. It’s a fantastic responsibility.

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4 responses »

  1. HI Cheryl, I have to say that whenever I read about someone who actually is able to purchase books for a real-live library, I get so jealous! I, too, was intrigued by all the considerations one must make when it comes to collection development. I didn’t even know that there was such a thing as a “collection development policy.” I can’t help but think that a lot of school libraries probably don’t have one of these, and they would be most useful when it comes to book challenges. I am going to be asking my school librarian if we have one of these, and if not, how amenable she might be to developing one with me. Thanks for posting about this, you really got me thinking!

  2. Laine, you should definitely make sure you guys have one!! I read SLJ’s column by Pat Scales where people ask questions in regards to challenges, etc. The first thing she always mentions is make sure you have a selection policy in place. It’s the easiest way to defend something because you can back up your arguments better. I say, develop one!

    PS, it is pretty neat to be able to buy books 🙂 I don’t have any money to buy books for myself but I can buy a lot for the library! I know you’ll get to be able to do it soon yourself!!

  3. i agree cheryl, teen advisory boards are key! I have been trying to think up a way i can make this work at the detention center i work at. Of course, the board would change almost every week as kids come and go. For now, we rely on conversations we have with the youth during library hours and programming events. of course, book wear and tear is a really good indication of what is popular at our place.

    how does teen advisory council work in your library?

  4. Our Teen Advisory Board is made of a steady group of 9 teens that range from 8th graders to juniors. Occasionally other teens drop by (they get one hour of service credit for each meeting attended and of course there’s food). We open each meeting with a Mad Libs to get everyone to loosen up. We ask for a volunteer to keep notes so we have a record of what’s happening. Then we either talk about upcoming programs that we ask them to promote and get their feedback on projects that we’re developing. This past summer is the first time that they ran a program themselves. It was a program they decided on, made the materials, and then held the program for teens and then repeated it for kids (it was a life size Candy Land game). It went over very well and they did a fantastic job. We’re looking to have them come up with another project like that for this spring and then again in the summer.

    Other than that, they help create content for our IDS (information display systems–they show videos, books, stuff like that). We don’t always accomplish a lot because after they all show up (usually late), we do the Mad Libs, and then there isn’t that much time left. But–the teens who come are fantastic and we learn so much in the short time they’re there about what everyone is into and talking about that even though we don’t do as much as we want it’s incredibly useful for keeping in the loop.

    Hope that’s helpful!

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