Writing A Collection Development Policy

Now that you have studied what is included in a collection development policy, it is time to talk about how to go about writing one.  Although the following procedure appears to go in linear steps, some of these steps may take place at the same time.  

Step One.  Establish the procedure.  If you wish to write or revise your collection development policy, the governing body should be informed.  It is often useful to have a small committee do the actual work to assure that one person's prejudices do not slant the policy.  The governing body can be asked to appoint a member to work with the director and perhaps another staff member to write the policy.

Step Two.  Gather information.  Read your library's long-range plan.  If you already have a policy, read it and note how what you are actually doing differs from the policy or how the policy differs from your long range plan.  If you have no current policy, try to write down the kinds of unofficial decisions that have been made about collection development.  Use the overview of general collection decisions and the criteria for selection that you have already studied.

Step Three.  Discuss changes.  When you are writing or revising your collection development policy, it is good to discuss changes that you would like to make.  Re-examine your long-range plan, and make sure that your collection development policy supports the plan and vice versa.  For example, if the plan calls for new formats to be added to the collection, or to stop purchasing a format that is becoming obsolete, you collection development policy should be consistent with this.  Make notes on the changes you wish to make.

Step Four.  Draft the policy.  Begin writing the policy.  If you have trouble finding good wording, you may want to examine other libraries' policies.  Many of these are available on the Internet.  It should be emphasized that these policies cannot be taken verbatim for another library, since each library's collection development policy should reflect the library's unique situation.  However, the language of another library's policy may give you some useful ideas about how to write your own policy.  Below are three Idaho library websites that include their collection development policies.

Boise Public Library    http://www.boisepubliclibrary.org/About_BPL/Policies_and_Plans

Latah County Library District  http://www.latahlibrary.org   Follow the link from "About Us" to "Policies".

Marshall Public Library (Pocatello)    http://www.marshallpl.org   Follow the link from "Library Information" and scroll down to "Collection Development Policy".


Step Five.  Present the policy to your governing body for approval.  Once you have a draft policy completed, present it to your governing board for their review.  It is best to present the policy at one meeting, but not to have it approved until the next meeting.  This will give the members of the governing body time to review the draft and make suggested changes.  These changes should be incorporated into the policy before it is approved.

Step Six.  Review the policy.  Annually the library staff and governing body should review the policy.  This allows the policy to change as the library's environment changes.  If the library's policy is not kept up-to-date, it will lose its usefulness.  Reviewing the policy also helps educate the staff and the governing body members about their roles and responsibilities in implementing the policy.

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