F. use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital items and collections;
Just as it is important to have an overall management plan in place for a library, it is equally important to have a detailed plan in place for development of the collection or collections. Unless you know what you currently have in your collection and where you envision your collection being in one year or five years, you will not know how much to budget for new materials or where best to spend those dollars. In addition, you need to be looking for sources of funding and writing grant proposals well in advance of the time you require the new materials.
In terms of grant proposals, there are calendar cycles and deadlines for various grants. You need to be acquainted with grants that have been successful in the past, the focus of any new grants, and the deadlines for submission. Often day-to-day operation of the library seems to take up most of your time, but you must carve out time to write grants. Belonging to a network of librarians from other areas and facilities may help you to find grants you overlooked. This is one reason that it is important to belong to and be active in professional organizations.
You must know the demographics of the community you serve. You may need to increase sizes of collections in certain languages including DVDs and periodicals. For example, at El Cerrito Library we not only have a growing South Asian population but also there is broader interest in Bollywood films and music. They have recently added Bollywood movies and a Bollywood dance for fitness DVD to their collection. They also increased the amount of shelf space devoted to their Spanish language collection. I like that they moved their Spanish picture books to integrate them with the English collection. California now has more Hispanic people than any other group. It is important to expose children from English speaking households to more Spanish language earlier than most school address second language needs.
A collection development manual (CDM) sets policy on issues such as patron complaints regarding controversial materials, policy on accepting donations of materials, which vendors to use for books and other materials and relationship boundaries with those vendors, and policies on weeding books. This will provide guidance on difficult issues instead of rapid decisions made in the heat of the moment.
Basic concepts and principles
The librarian must be aware of new books and series. Important sources of information for selection include subject bibliographies and review sources for in-print books, including current reviews, catalogs, flyers, and announcements (Evans, 2005, p. 84). For example, our local chapter of the ACL hands out new books for the members to review. At the next meeting we present our reviews and other members read the books. We vote on which books to include in a list of best books that we publish on our website.
When managing a school library collection, the librarian works closely with the teachers on curriculum development, new developments in state curriculum requirements, and upcoming special research projects. With limited funding, “librarians must consider the ‘bang for the buck’ of a title, selecting those items that will be widely used throughout the school” (Evans, 2005, p. 78).
Generally, schools have cycles for adoption of new textbooks and teachers are reviewing the new texts starting around January. By March they know which books will be adopted for the next school year. The librarian stays in the loop and can order supporting materials near the end of the school year for the next academic year. School librarians also need to take suggestions from students on new recreational reading. At times, the cycles of interest for teens are so short that librarians will need to purchase books at Amazon books or major book sellers such as Barnes and Noble so they will need funds available.
School librarians need to consider the variety of reading levels and ordering books of high interest and low reading level for the reluctant reader. The librarian should consider demographics in terms of English Language Learners. For example, the elementary school library where I did my internship had foreign language books and dictionaries especially in Chinese and Japanese.
When selecting new books, the librarian needs to be aware of space constraints, age of present books, especially in fields such as computer science and other sciences, and condition of frequently requested books. They should maintain a wish list of books. For example, when I was an intern at Ocean View Elementary, the teacher librarian received word that he needed to spend about $500 on books within a week or he would lose the opportunity to use the funds. He asked me whether or not to spend the money on a new series of books on the States as the students in 5th grade all do a history project on a state. It was obvious by looking at the other two States series already on the shelves that these books did not get much use. I suggested the grant money be spent on books that would enjoy heavier circulation. There is a large interest in graphic novels, fairy tales and Greek and Roman mythology. He purchased a group of graphic novels retelling popular folk tales and myths. They enjoyed immediate popularity.
Basic concepts and principles
It is important to do periodic measurable evaluations on the circulation of your collection. At least half of the work you do on grant proposals has to do with evaluation and measurable outcomes. Without these figures on demographics, the nature of your collection (i.e. how many books you have on African American studies and how many students use these books per semester for research projects), it will be difficult to compete successfully against other libraries and institutions for funding.
At El Cerrito Library, they print out a circulation report at least once a year. I assisted with a recent weeding project. I pulled books that had not circulated in the past three years. I placed the books on carts and then the librarians evaluated the books as to whether they had any special value (i.e. books by local authors or of local historical significance, etc.).
Basic concepts and principles
Evans lays out an excellent list of considerations relative to collection development from his years of experience:
- “Know/learn your service community’s needs and interests;
- Remember our ‘product’ is access to information regardless of format;
- Expect change and be flexible;
- Think ahead/plan/scan the environment;
- Build relationships;
- Engage in collaborative/consortial activities; and
- Realize that providing access can be a challenge for a variety of reasons” (Evans, 2005, p. 87).
There should be an orderly way to receive suggestions and feedback. If there is a central library and central budget for District libraries, some of the decisions are made by the head Librarian for the district. As Evans mentions above, “access can be a challenge.” Not only funding can influence what is in a collection. Some librarians decide not to purchase a book because they are afraid that its presence will cause negative comments from parents. I can understand this viewpoint, but we must remember that a library provides access to a wide variety of viewpoints on many issues. One of the cornerstones of librarianship is free access to information. The CDM should have a policy on disputes on literature in the library with a complaint form that may be submitted and reviewed by an advisory board.
In larger academic or public libraries, there may be a department and staff dedicated to collection development. Besides input from stakeholders, the librarians would learn what to add to the collection through reading reviews such as the New York Times Book Review and checking lists other libraries have collected for “must read” books.
Basic concepts and principles
After investing time and money into development of a collection of physical or digital items, the librarian needs a set of policies regarding preserving those materials on a day-to-day basis, for the lifetime of those materials, and in the event of an emergency such as a flood.
Several decades ago libraries generally only purchased hard backs and many of those were bound in more sturdy and more expensive library bindings. Today librarians need to make choices between multiple book bindings based on intended circulation patterns and retention times for the books. For example, a biography by a well-known scholar of a prominent person such as Nelson Mandela would warrant the expensive of purchasing a hard back. It will be retained for a number of years and be used for research as well as recreational reading. Graphic novels by their very nature are published in paperback. The librarian may reinforce the cover sheets with clear plastic, but these books will have hard wear and tear in the backpack of a school-aged child. If they circulate often or are lost or stolen often, they will warrant replacement. Books that circulate well but may qualify as “beach reading” such as romance novels and murder mysteries may be purchased as paperbacks and replaced as they become too tattered. El Cerrito Library keeps its adult paperbacks on carousels for easy browsing, divided by Romance, Mystery, Fiction, Science Fiction, and “Classics.” Graphic novels are shelved as a group in a high visibility area of the teen section of the library.
Paper media deteriorates and discolors in strong sunlight so the library should be equipped with shades and books should not be placed in strong sunlight. Water is the enemy of paper so a leak proof facility is of the utmost importance. If possible, keep bookshelves at least a few inches above floor level in case of minor flooding. In an emergency, wet books can be frozen until they can be properly dried. This prevents the growth of mold. In the case of a flood or fire, librarians should know which items are the most valuable, irreplaceable books to be saved first. Most rare book rooms are equipped with humidity and temperature controls and sensors and methods to seal them off from the rest of the library.
Conservation and preservation of rare books is an entire study in itself. I did research in the British Museum Library where a white gloved staff retrieved from closed stacks vellum manuscripts from the medieval period. The manuscript I was studying was placed on a plastic lectern and I turned the pages with a plastic wand. One was only allowed to bring in pencils for writing. Likewise, at the Hoover Library at Stanford, there is a locker room. One must place all coats and bags in a locker. One may only bring a pencil and some paper into the reading room.
In day-to-day use, digital media such as CDs and DVDs must be kept clean and free of sticky fingerprints. There are machines to polish gently these items to extend their lifetime. The jewel cases become cracked or the vinyl cases for audio books start to fall apart necessitating replacement or repair.
Digital media has the advantages of being able to store a great deal of information in a smaller area than a book would need. It also can provide audio information in the form of books on tape (or CD) or music for commuters or the vision impaired, music, television and movie programming. A disadvantage of digital media is that every few years the machines to play the media change format. This is happening in increasingly short time frames. This requires the migration of the digital media to the new format. As an example, I had a collection of small reels of film of family movies shot by my parents. About a decade ago I had them moved to video (VHS) format. Within a few years, I realized I should have stored them on DVD as there are fewer and fewer video machines available. Now I might upload them to the cyber cloud.
In the past, a paper or vellum books might survive for centuries as might a bundle of handwritten correspondence. I worry that as our communication moves through cyberspace, we may lose the thoughts of several generations. Libraries may need to keep older machines in running order so that we can still view old films and access other media on a computer or similar device.
My first artifact is “Frogs and Toads: books and media for children,” written for my LIBR 263 class on children’s literature. Our assignment was to put together an annotated collection of in-print books for children five to eight years of age around a specific theme. As a former biology teacher and a lover of the Frog and Toad children’s books by Lobel, I chose a collection of fiction and science books. I used reviews, suggestions from children and colleagues, and perusal of the collection of JPB (Juvenile Picture Books) at the El Cerrito Library. This demonstrates my competency in selecting age appropriate books for a school media center or public library collection.
My second artifact is the part of the chapter Evaluation and Weeding about Preservation of materials that I wrote for our group’s Collection Development Manual for LIBR 266 (CH9_Team2_Lanyi_Levenson…). Due to my first career as an archaeologist and a collector of older books, I was quite interested in this topic. As a volunteer for Oxford Elementary School Library, I was fortunate to have the librarian teach me several hands-on techniques for protecting and restoring books, using spine tape, affixing various coverings, and mending torn pages. This artifact shows my competency in the topic of preservation of a collection.
My third artifact is a discussion post from my LIBR 266 Collection Development class (Acquisitions wk4). I wrote about my examination of the CDM for the El Cerrito Public Library, especially about the amount of discussion relating to acquisitions and the amount devoted to accepting donations. This artifact supports my competency regarding understanding issues around acquisitions and donations.
A Collection Development Manual is a critical item for a library. It takes time to develop and should be updated periodically. A copy should be readily available for consultation. Having buy-in from all staff members on its policies is important. A CDM provides a blueprint for the present and the future development of the library’s collection.
Evans, G.E. & Saponaro, M. Z. (2005). Developing library and information center collections, 5th Ed. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.
Evans, G. E. (2008). Reflections on creating information service collections. In Haycock, K. & Sheldon, B. E. (eds.). The portable MLIS: insights from the expert, pp. 87-97. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited.
Frogs & Toads Books and Media
Frogs & Toads Books and Media
I wrote the section on Preservation in Chapter 9 of our Collection Dev. Manual for LIBR 266.
acquisitions wk 4
Discussion from LIBR266 Collections Development about El Cerrito Library's CDM: the amount of space devoted to discussion and policy on Acquisitions and the part about accepting donations of books.
acquisitions wk 4