The materials selection portion of the collection development policy should give the following information.
Who is responsible for selecting materials? Typically, the library staff is responsible for selecting materials. This is because the staff is most aware of the needs of the community regarding library materials. In larger libraries, a number of different staff members may have responsibility for selecting materials. In smaller libraries, the director may do all of the selection. In some school and college libraries, faculty departments may also have some responsibility for selecting materials. However, this needs to be coordinated by the library staff. Whatever system is used should be clearly defined by the collection development policy.
Criteria for selection. The criteria that your library will use in selecting materials will depend in large part on the mission of the library. Some typical criteria include:
Inclusion of the type of material in the general policy for collection development. No matter how good an item might be, if it does not fit within the description of the kinds of materials collected by the library, it should not be acquired.
Favorable reviews of the item--reviews may be from library related periodicals such as the Library Journal, Booklist, or Choice, or they may come from newspapers, general or specialized periodicals.
Recommendations from patrons--patrons may ask for specific materials. A certain number of requests may lead to consideration of purchase of the material. It should be noted that typically a single request does not trigger such a purchase, but there may be exceptions to this rule.
Faculty recommendations (for school and academic libraries). To support faculty members, school and academic libraries often will purchase materials based on their recommendations.
Community interest in the material's subject matter. If there is a particularly hot topic in the community, the library may purchase materials about this topic.
Reputation or popularity of the author. Some authors are so popular that public libraries automatically purchase their books. For example, many public libraries will purchase the new novels by popular authors regardless of the quality of the reviews.
Reputation or popularity of the material. Libraries may purchase videos based on the reputation or popularity of the material when it came out as a movie. Some reference materials are purchased primarily on their reputation for high quality.
Need to balance the collection. When a library has material in support of one side of a controversial subject, it may seek to purchase materials supporting other views.
Special criteria for specific subject matter. For example, there may be specific types of materials collected or excluded for different Dewey Classification hundreds. For the 200's (Religion), for example, a library may place special limits on gift materials, so that no religion is over-represented in the collection.
Cost of the material. Libraries must always balance other criteria against the cost of the item.
Special Selection Processes.
In almost all libraries, there are some specialized selection processes. For example, almost all libraries purchase magazine subscriptions, rather than purchasing periodicals issue by issue. Some libraries also rent popular materials rather than purchasing them. This system may allow them to get multiple copies cheaper and eliminates the problem of disposal of multiple copies after the material is no longer popular. Libraries may also have some standing orders for books, such as general almanacs, that they purchase each year. If your library is using such services, they should be addressed in your collection development policy.
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