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Collection Development

July 17, 2009

The Portable MLIS: Insights From the Experts

Chapter 9: “Reflections on Creating Information Service Collections” by G. Edward Evans

Evans touches upon the important points of collection development in this chapter. One of the most important concepts I take away from reading this chapter is the idea of knowing the needs of the community you service. As a school media student, this notion is underscored by an assignment in IST 612, Youth Services. This assignment entails choosing a library and building a collection of 200 items. One of the requirements is to research the demographics of your service population. In starting this assignment, it is apparent that this knowledge is essential in building a good collection.

The idea of knowing your service community was also underscored during my librarian interview. While interviewing the library director of the Sidney Memorial Public, she shared with me that one of the challenging aspects of her job right now is ordering books. She has been library director for about a year, and is currently the only staff member ordering books for the entire library collection. Not knowing the community very well yet makes ordering materials that much harder.

Collection development does not seem to lack in controversy. The needs of a community can be difficult to assess. Expert opinion can dictate what materials certain types of libraries should collect, but this does not work for every library and should not substitute a librarian getting to know the needs/wants of their patrons. The community itself will have opinions on what a collection should include (and not include). One risk here is allowing small but vocal groups to drown out the majority (Evans, 2008 p.89). A possible scenario where I can envision this happening is in book challenges; minority groups can be very vocal in their opposition to certain materials.

As a frequent library patron, I was once approached by library staff to look through a catalog to suggest non-fiction books that would appeal to boys in my son’s age range. It was fun to look at all the titles and offer my opinion, but I now see that there is much more to collection development than just picking out books. This chapter, along with my IST 612 assignment, has whet my appetite to learn more about this artform.

Evans, G.E. (2008). Reflections on Creating Information Service Collections. In K. Haycock & B.E. Sheldon (Ed.), The Portable MLIS: Insights From the Experts, (pp. 87-97). Westport, CT: Greenwood.

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