Use the basic concepts and principles related to the creation, evaluation, selection, acquisition, preservation and organization of specific items or collections of information
Libraries and other information centers are places where information is made accessible. One of the important parts of a librarian’s job is to build a collection of information for a group of users that will serve their information needs. Rubin states “the librarian or information scientist is the agent who acquires, organizes, and disseminates that information” (Rubin, p. 20). This is true of public and academic libraries, corporate libraries and even Web sites and databases.
In order to create a collection of information, a librarian must first understand the nature of the collection being developed. This includes an understanding of the user group being served, which can be achieved through user needs assessments, community analysis and other methods. A librarian should evaluate which materials of the immense amount of materials available are appropriate for this group of users. Evans and Zarnosky call this the identification stage, “during which the organization segregates appropriate from inappropriate information" (Evans, p.6).
Once the library has identified the information that is appropriate for a collection, they have to select from the available items. The selection process differs for each information organization, but some of the factors involved include the current state of the collection, the material types that are being collected and the budget allowed for materials. A selector must determine if these materials add value to their users' information needs.
Acquisition of materials once they have been selected involves knowledge of budgeting as well as the many channels through which materials can be purchased. Those involved in acquisitions must have familiarity and relationships with vendors in order to make the most of the library’s often-limited dollars. They can negotiate special deals, place standing orders or other special orders that can save the library staff time and money.
Preservation is an important area of the collection development process. Once materials have been acquired, it is the librarian’s responsibility to ensure that these materials are available to users for years to come. After all, these materials represent an investment of time and effort as well as of valuable library funds. So the longer they last, the less frequently they will have to be replaced. Therefore the librarian must ensure that the collection is cared for. Materials must be stored properly. Climate control, adequate storage space and proper shelving are important to ensure that the materials are not damaged by mold or undue burden on the bindings. The library must ward off theft and vandalism through security measures so that materials are protected from intentional damage. Also, libraries must establish disaster plans to prepare libraries for natural or unnatural disasters that threaten the collection.
Librarians must also organize all this information. Because even if libraries collect the best and most useful information for its community, users must be able to find this information in order for it to serve its purpose. Librarians accomplish this through cataloging and classification of materials. Cataloging provides a description of the item so that it can be identified and differentiated from other materials in the collection. Access points are established so that the item can be found in an information retrieval system. Some type of classification is assigned, usually a Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal System number in a library setting, so that the item can be physically found, and also to group like items together to facilitate browsing.
Once the collection has been developed, the process does not end. The cycle starts all over again. The collection must be evaluated regularly to find items that need to be bound, repaired, or replaced altogether. It must be evaluated in terms of whether the materials in the collection still fill the community's information needs. It is a cyclical process that must continue in order to have the most successful collection for the community's information needs.
The following pieces of evidence demonstrate my ability to demonstrate my knowledge of this process of collection development.
Preservation of Artists’ Books – LIBR 259 – Fall 2005
This paper, written for LIBR 259 Preservation Management, discusses the preservation issues specific to a special collection of artists' books. Special preservation practices are needed for this kind of collection because of the materials and rarity of the items. It discusses how to balance the need to preserve these special, relatively rare items, with the need for access.
Opening Day Collection: Undergraduate Photography Collection – LIBR 266 – Summer 2007
The purpose of this opening day collection for LIBR 266 Collection Management was to create a theoretical opening day collection for a new library or department. Here, I developed a collection for a college with a new photography department. It presents the scope of the collection, selection criteria, formats being collected and other information about the collection. Then I present a list of titles that I selected using selection criteria and with a specified budget.
Evaluating a Library Collection: Public Library Photography Collection – LIBR 266 – Summer 2007
In this paper, also created in LIBR 266, I evaluate the current photography collection at a local public library. It first required consideration of the user group. Then I examined the collection in terms of its scope, currency of information, appropriateness of materials, circulation and usage, the physical condition of the materials, their monetary value, collection maintenance, and popularity of the collection. In the summary, recommendations for improvement are provided.
Evans, G. E. & Zarnosky, N. R. (2005). Developing library and information center collections. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
Rubin, R. (2000). Foundations of library and information science. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.