Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Collection Development

 (image from Flickr user library mistress)

One of the things I feel I really got shafted on in library school was collection development. Now, I liked my professor quite a bit, and I believe he knows a lot about collection development, but I also feel like I left the class without any sense of how to DO collection development.

Most of the time, I've lucked out, and I've been asked to do collection development in an area where I have personal interest/knowledge. In these cases it's easy to know what's coming out, what the hot topics/authors are, etc. But when faced with areas I have less expertise about?

Then I'm left mumbling, um reviews, amazon, uh, magic?

I can do things like environmental scanning, i.e., seeing what's missing in a community. And yes, that's a great skill to have. But once I've determined that there's a large group of bird watches in my area, how do I figure what books to add to the collection for them?

Just as important, I've never developed a system I like for tracking my collection development. My first attempt was a raggedy notebook with every title I was interested in written in it. You can imagine the nightmare after a few months (much less years) of trying to find anything in it.

I'm currently using a folder filled with notepad files. But I'm only tracking what's to come, and what I've ordered. I'm not tracking what's come in the library. How do you track stuff? What do you chose to track?

I wish library school had provided me with a better sense of how to answer these concerns. I'd love to hear from people what they do, and if they've had similar experiences to me.*

Because of SPAM, comments are moderated. Be patient, I'll get them posted as I can.

* To be honest (and forthright) I've thought about proposing a collection development book around these themes, so if you're interested, let me know. And if you don't want to be a part, but still want to address my questions, just say so.