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. http://www.lili.org/forlibs/ce/able/course1/19writing.htm
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. http://researchbank.swinburne.edu.au/vital/access/manager/Repository/swin:281
Dartmouth College Library presents useful guidelines for writing collection development policies. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~cmdc/bibapp/cdpguide.html
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
- 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.