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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Selecting the best for our libraries
Article Type: Editorial From: Collection Building, Volume 34, Issue 2
Collection development has become so very interesting and so much more complex. We have so many ways to do collection development from title-by-title selection to patron-driven acquisitions to vendor selection. Each way of doing selection has its own pluses and minuses and most libraries use of mix of these methods. No one method serves all the needs of a library. Size and type of library, size of budget, user population and many other variables determine what a library implements.
Although title-by-title selection is time consuming, there may be a number of reasons why a library chooses this method. Some subjects may be best handled this way because it is so hard to find the right material. Small budgets mean that a library must make each dollar count so using a vendor is problematic. Some user groups do not fit into any specific category, and the librarians working with them know best what they need.
Many libraries are using patron-driven acquisitions. This provides important feedback from the library’s users. It is probably only one of the selection methods a library will use in developing its collection. The library will use other methods to select materials for its collection as well. Patron-driven acquisitions require a great deal of monitoring, as libraries often allocate a certain amount of money to this part of their selection and must stay within their budget. Libraries are often doing patron-driven acquisitions by adding e-books to the catalog and then after a certain number of hits on that item, they buy it. So the numbers can change and vendor prices can change as the program goes forward. It is challenging but fills a real user need.
Many libraries use vendor selection for a small or large part of acquisitions. The vendor or vendors may select in certain subject areas of the collection. The library sets up an approval plan with a certain amount of money allocated to that part of the selection. Academic libraries may use vendors’ approval plans more if they have sufficient budget. Approval plans mean that there will undoubtedly be some selection mistakes, but it saves a great deal of time for the library, as the vendor does the bulk of the work. Larger public libraries may also go this route. If they do, it means they must monitor the plan carefully to minimize selection mistakes. All approval plans need monitoring to be sure that the library is receiving materials that fit its user needs. Changes can be made along the way, as libraries see that their guidelines need some adjusting.
Collection development takes a lot of work and changes, as the users’ needs change and budgets change. Whether the library is buying print or electronic resources the process is similar. Libraries still can purchase or subscribe to materials title by title or by designed packages. Consortium buying can spread the costs and assure that more users will have access to the materials in the package. In Collection Building, we try to bring you new ideas and plans, as they develop to add to our continuing exploration of collection selection and management. No system is perfect but many are trying successful new ways of doing their best. Please share your ideas with us.
Kay Ann Cassell