Thursday, August 6, 2009

Collection Development Policy

It is said that the library is a trinity of books, users and staff. Books are of various types and formats generally known as collection. Books are being published in increasing number every year. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) monitors both the number and type of books published per country per year. In 2005, the United Kingdom published 206,000 books, where as in the same year United States published 172,000 books. Advances in information communication technology and the emergence of electronic resources have added a new dimension of digital books and other media to ever increasing number of books worldwide. Left to themselves, librarians would like to acquire as many books as they can while the users would like to have all the books of their interest in the library with which they are associated. Unfortunately, library budgets are very much limited regardless of the type of library - academic, public, or special library. At the same time other needs such as open access computers, multi media services etc have to be met with. The best way of facing these problems appears to be to have a well written collection development policy.

What is Collection Development Policy
The American Library Association defines collection development policies (CDP) as 'documents which define the scope of a library's existing collections, plan for the continuing development of resources, identify collection strengths, and outline the relationship between selection philosophy and the institution's goals, general selection criteria, and intellectual freedom'.

Why of Collection Development Policy
The primary purpose of a written collection development policy is to lay down guidelines for selecting materials for the collection of the library. It also describes steps on weeding (deselection), retention, preservation and archiving. It helps in identifying gaps in collections and providing orientation to new staff. It can help the library users what to expect from the library and what to recommend to be added to the collection. According to Hoffmann and Wood (2005), collection development policy statement often focuses on the communication function: internally, with the users, staff, and administrators, and externally, with other libraries and institutions. Communication embraces a wide range of operations, including training, budgeting cooperative acquisitions, interaction with users, and shared services. The collection development plan is like business plan for a small business(Cassell and Futas, 1991). It is like a road map which outlines the steps to be taken to accomplish the goals of the business. Lorenzen (2009) is of the opinion that the CD Policies act as a planning tool, guide to selectors, ensures consistency and defence for challenges.

How to Write a Collection Development Policy
Collection development policy may be written either for the entire library or to a specific subject such as chemistry, economics, and philosophy etc. The policy is usually drafted by a committee where as for a specific subject it is by the subject librarian concerned. It may be worth looking at the simple course on writing a collection development policy of Idaho Commission for Libraries.

Whitehead (1989) took a practical look at writing the policy and explains how to start the process, what to write first, what to put into it, how to get one quick, what to call it, and how long it should be.

Dartmouth College Library presents useful guidelines for writing collection development policies.

Elements of Collection Development Policy
The Guide for written collection policy statements by the American Library Association explicitly describes various items of information that are to be included in the policy statement. These elements are listed below (ALA, 1996). By and large the below mentioned items are included in policy statement:
- Introduction to the policy statement
- General purpose
- Brief note about the library
- General subject boundaries
- Languages
- Geographical areas
- Types of materials collected
- Format of materials collected
- Special collections and manuscripts
- Other resources available
- Detailed subject areas
- Weeding and deselection

However, Snow (1996) is of the opinion that written collection development policies in the academic library are unnecessary as written policy represents a significant investment in its creation and maintenance. One may not agree with this opinion. With the diminishing budgets and ever increasing prices of books and non-book material, there is every need for a sound collection development policy with periodic revisions.

American Library Association. (1987). Guide for writing a bibliographer’s manual: Collection Management and Development Guide No. 1. Chicago, IL: ALA.
American Library Association.1996.Guide for written collection policy statements. (2nd ed.). Chicago, IL: ALA.
Cassell, K.A., & Futas, E. (1991). Developing public library collections, policies, and procedures: a how-to-do-it manual for small and medium-sized public libraries. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.
Hoffmann, F.W., & Wood, R.J. (2005). Library collection development policies: academic, public, and special libraries. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press.
Lorenzen, Michael. (2009). Information Policy as Library Policy: Intellectual Freedom. Lecture#20, Spring/Summer 2009,LIS 6010 WSU/LISP.
Snow, Richard. (1996). Wasted Words: The Written Collection Development Policy and the Academic Library. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 22,191-194.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Service Policies

The ALA encourages librarians and libraries providing and creating accommodating services for a wide variety of patrons, depending on their unique information needs and requirements. These decisons should be appropriately reflected in the content of the collection, and with a Collection Development Policy which should reflect "...the fundamental mission of the library," Lorenzen, "Information Policy" presentation. Librarians are to meet patrons 'where they are,' which include a variety of possibilities, including (according to the ALA Policy Manual):

  • Prisons and their inmates:

    52.1 Service to Detention Facilities and Jails

    The American Library Association encourages public libraries and systems to extend their services to residents of jails and other detention facilities within their taxing areas. ALA instructs its Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies in cooperation with the Public Library Association, the American Library Trustee Association, and other interested units to design a plan to assist public libraries in extending their services to local jails and detention facilities.

  • Immigrants, both to use the library's resources and in support of their rights in other areas:

    52.4.3 Immigrants’ Rights to Free Public Library Access

    The American Library Association in cooperation with REFORMA and other affiliates works to inform and educate public libraries and member constituents about alternate forms of identification that will encourage the use of free public library services by all immigrant populations. (See “Current Reference File”: Resolution in Support of Immigrants’ Rights to Free Public Library Access, 2004-2005 ALA CD #65)

    52.4.5 Support of Immigrants’ Rights

    ALA strongly supports the protection of each person’s civil liberties, regardless of that individual’s nationality, residency, or status; and that ALA opposes any legislation that infringes on the rights of anyone in the USA or its territories, citizens or otherwise, to use library resources, programs, and services on national, state, and local levels.

  • The youth of communities:

    52.5.1 Youth Services

    The American Library Association recognizes that the future of libraries and of society itself depends upon the preparedness of youth to carry adult responsibilities for business, government, parenthood and other leadership. Children and young adults cannot fulfill their potential or that of society without high quality library opportunities through both public and school libraries. ALA is committed to the support and development of resources and services for children and young adults through both school and public libraries.

The ALA also has many general recommendations on library service practices, programming to offer, and ethical standards:

  • 52.4 Confidentiality of Library Records

    The ethical responsibilities of librarians, as well as statutes in most states and the District of Columbia, protect the privacy of library users. Confidentiality extends to ‘‘information sought or received, and materials consulted, borrowed, acquired,’’ and includes database search records, reference interviews, circulation records, interlibrary loan records, and other personally identifiable uses of library materials, facilities, or services.

The ALA's Policy Manual goes on to illustrate the importance of each individual library institution having a definitive plan in place, should law enforcement ask to see records and other sensitive patron information:

The American Library Association strongly recommends that the responsible officers of each library, cooperative system, and consortium in the United States:

1) Formally adopt a policy which specifically recognizes its circulation records and other records identifying the names of library users with specific materials to be confidential.

2) Advise all librarians and library employees that such records shall not be made available to any agency of state, federal, or local government except pursuant to such process, order, or subpoena as may be authorized under the authority of, and pursuant to, federal, state, or local law relating to civil, criminal, or administrative discovery procedures or legislative investigatory power.

3) Resist the issuance or enforcement of any such process, order, or subpoena until such time as a proper showing of good cause has been made in a court of competent jurisdiction.

  • The ALA also encourages libraries to restrict the amount of sensitive information they decide to record on their patrons, and when those patrons set up library accounts (Policy 52.4.4, Retention of Library Records.)
  • Keeping sensitive information private from other branches of government, including but not limited to law enforcement- such as state and federal agencies- is also urged by the ALA (Policy 52.4.2, Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information About Library Users.)
  • Libraries are urged "to include instruction in the use of libraries as one of the primary goals of service," Policy 52.6, Instruction in the Use of Libraries.

  • Libraries and their staff should remain politically-unswayed, willing to educate on a variety of opinions, while never hesitating to point out how information and statistics can be manipulated to produce a particular result (Policy 52.8, Disinformation, Media Manipulation and the Destruction of Public Information.)
  • Libraries should consider when making hiring and training decisons which qualities are most important in their librarians, and whether their "...service policy (is) instructional or delivery-oriented," which will have influence over the nature of programming and over patron's reference experiences in general (Lorenzen, "Information Policy" presentation.)
  • Libraries must have basic rules in place which monitor the check-out times, fine amounts, and other check-out related issues (Lorenzen, "Information Policy" presentation) to encourage reasonable item turn-over, giving patrons a more equal opportunity to check out even the most popular of items.

Perhaps even more interesting is the type of materials the ALA encourages libraries to carry; though none particularly controversial, they may otherwise be overlooked:

  • Libraries are encouraged to carry the most up-to-date, accurate, and informative information on sexuality, making sure "...that information is available for children and adolescents, parents, and youth-serving professionals," Policy 52.5.2, Sex Education Materials in Libraries.

  • Libraries are to carry information on joining different branches of the military to assist those "...persons who are facing the prospect of conscription," Policy 52.5.3, Selective Service Information in Libraries.

Though this is certainly not an exhaustive list of all of ALA's service policies, the range of information should help provide a basic level of understanding of the ALA encouraged ethical practices, to what should be provided in a collection.


American Library Association (2009.) The ALA Policy Manual- 52. Services and Responsibilities of Libraries. Retrieved:

Lorenzen, M (2009.) Service Policy as Information Policy.


Information policies regarding children's services tend to be quite different than those regarding adults. Some of these differences are blatant and yet others occur almost subconsciously.

There are those in the library and information science field that closely adhere to and follow the ALA's
Library Bill of Rights , Article V,

"A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views…"

However, they have opponents within their field who think it's necessary to differentiate between children and adults. They often site religious beliefs and family values as there reason for objecting to such free access to information. Some even believe we should be acting in loco parentis.

Nevertheless, those strictly loyal to the ALA's Library Bill of Rights site in their interpretation of it titled Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials ,

"The 'right to use a library' includes free access to, and unrestricted use of all the services, materials, and facilities the library has to offer. Every restriction on access to, and use of, library resources, based solely on the chronological age, education level, literacy skills, or legal emancipation of users violates Article V."

It also states,

"Librarians, when dealing with minors, should apply the same standards to circulation of nonprint materials as are applied to books and other print material except when directly and specifically prohibited by law."

The ALA and it's supporters make it very clear that we are to not to act in loco parentis in the interpretation titled Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials
it states,

"Parents – and only parents – have the right and responsibility to restrict access of their children – and only their children – to library resources."

The ALA also states in another interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights titled Free Access to Libraries for Minors,

"Children and young adults unquestionably possess First Amendment rights, including, the right to receive information through the library in print, nonprint, or digital format. Constitutionally protected speech cannot be suppressed solely to protect children or young adults from ideas or images a legislative body believes to be unsuitable for them." (Reference to Erznoznik v. City of Jacksonville, 422 U.S. 205 (1975)).

But even knowing and understanding this stance the ALA has taken on providing children's services, I wonder if I could sit idly by while a minor was able to access something that isn't what I consider age appropriate because of my professional obligations. I know that this is in direct violation of the Library Bill of Rights, but I'm a parent and I have a hard time turning off that switch. I'm always a parent and I have to be honest and say, I think I would probably, in some circumstances, almost forget about the Library Bill of Rights. I know these may not be my children, but I would feel responsible as a parent in general. Being a parent is now inherent for me, where the LBR has just become a part of my life.

This all probably sounds very unprofessional of me, but I wonder if any of you also deal with this issue? And even if you are not a parent, do you struggle with this? I wonder if my stance will change once the LBR has been fully integrated into my professional development. Maybe after finishing this program, I will feel differently.


American Library Association (2009). Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials. Retrieved from

American Library Association (2009). Library Bill of Rights. Retrieved from

American Library Association (2009). Free Access to Libraries for Minors.
Retrieved from

Lorenzen, M. (2009). Information Policy as Library Policy: Intellectual Freedom.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

ALA & Information Policy

In 1940, ALA created the Intellectual Freedom Committee to help protect and promote the Library Bill of Rights, which is essential to libraries (Lorenzen. 2009). The Library Bill of Rights helps libraries create their own information policy and it helps support libraries when they are under scrutiny by patrons or others in the community. This is especially important when libraries are in the negative limelight.

Libraries can be seen as negative when someone disagrees with the Internet filtering policy that is not in use or may be filtering too little or not well enough. They can also be seen as negative when a community member believes that a book at the library is harmful and should not be present in the library.

By giving libraries the Library Bill of Rights, ALA sets up policy for individual libraries and creates a support mechanism for when libraries do come under attack. For example, section 2 of the Bill of Rights says to “reject censoring based on doctrinal disapproval of content” and to also “select materials with wide array of viewpoints”. ALA believes that by selecting materials with a wide variety of viewpoints, the knowledge seeker/ reader becomes a well rounded person and will be able to make decisions based on the knowledge gathered from these many viewpoints.

In sections 3 and 4, the Bill of Rights says to “reject censorship” and to “cooperate with others to fight abridgement of free speech” ( Lorenzen. 2009). The Intellectual Freedom Manual, which was created by the Intellectual Freedom Committee, says “We trust Americans to recognize propaganda, and to reject it. We do not believe they need the help of censors to assist them in this task. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be "protected" against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.” (ALA. 1989)

However, in a world where parents want to protect their children from the sights and sounds of a violent world, libraries seem to come under attack more and more. It is a parent’s right to protect their children and raise them as they see fit. It is also a parent’s right to monitor what their child watches on TV, sites they visit on the Internet and what they read. ALA encourages parents to interact with their children by setting ruling and not only teaching their children but themselves by selecting books with their children and showing them how to safely access the Internet and surf websites.

“We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.”(ALA. 1989)

American Library Association (2009). FAQ About Libraries, Children, and the Internet. Retrieved from

American Library Association (1989).Intellectual Freedom Manual, Third Edition,
Compiled by the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association. Retrieved from

Lorenzen, M. (2009). Information Policy as Library Policy: Intellectual Freedom.