Overview of Collection Decisions

Now that you have looked at the needs of your clientele and set some general goals for the collection, you can make some major decisions about the kind of materials that you will collect to meet these goals. These decisions fall into the following categories.

Scope of Collection: This has to do with the technical level of the materials to be collected. For example, will the collection meet the needs of the average user or the expert?

Formats: What kinds of materials will be collected. Will the collection be primarily print materials or will it consist of non-print materials as well? If there will be non-print materials, what kind will be included? How will the library decide to add new media? Will the library provide on-line services? How will it choose these services?

Age of materials.  Will the library seek to add materials that have been produced in the past to "fill in" its collection, or will it only add newer materials?

Languages.  Will the collection be primarily materials in English, or will the library collect materials in other languages as well? If so, what languages?

Special Collections.  Will the library have some subject areas that it will make a special effort to collect materials? For example, many public libraries have special local history collections. These materials often are shelved in special sections and have restrictions on their circulation.

Multiple Copies and Special Issues.  If an item is particularly popular, the library may want to purchase multiple copies.  Other special collection development issues may occur depending on the mission of the library.  The conditions for making decisions about such issues should be spelled out in your policy.

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