Each special collection starts out as a core assemblage of books. As the collection's size increases, its quality (it is assumed) does as well. If a library is lucky, it will have a bibliographer in charge of such a collection: someone knowledgeable of the ins and outs of his or her discipline; someone who keeps “current with a discipline's investigations and monitor[s] its evolutions.” In reality, however, the person in charge of developing a particular collection often may not have a good scholarly foundation in the subject, particularly in a public library, where there is less of a tradition of hiring subject specialists as bibliographers than there is in academic libraries. Once a collection has grown considerably in size and scope, and has benefitted from the tastes and choices of a number of bibliographers of varying backgrounds and qualifications, it becomes necessary to assess the quality of the collection. One practical way to evaluate and build a collection, which can be used by those who do not possess a thorough scholarly foundation in the subject in which they collect, is outlined below.
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