I love collection development (Portable MLIS, ch. 9)

G. Edward Evans (2008), a collections development officer at a large academic library, gives good advice in this chapter. Thoughts for my future:

How can I best link the library’s mission with the school’s mission (p. 88)? I will need to be very intentional about this by speaking with (and observing in action) the principal, the faculty, and the students in order to learn how the school’s mission is embodied in daily practice and school culture. This will help me to know the users’ information needs—especially what Evans calls their “felt” needs.

Evans discusses “normative needs” (p. 89), i.e. ideas about what information sources library users should have access to in the collection. One issue here is which reviews and reviewers to trust? Up until now, I have read ALA’s Booklist and School Library Journal for reviews, especially of young adult titles. But who writes these reviews? What editorial process chooses some titles and publishers and not others? I want to be better informed about what’s out there and seek out other sources for reviews. I loved learning about smaller, independent, and niche presses at the ALA conference, and I know that some of their titles would be great in my high school library. This also goes for which vendors to trust, which Evans discusses on page 94. I need to keep this in mind moving forward.

I can do this at the policy level by making sure I have an excellent and ethically sound collection development policy. I love Evans’ questions on this thorny ethical topic (p. 90):

What are the most important felt needs within the community?

Which needs are the most relevant for the service to address given funding realities?

How will you reconcile multiple valid needs as well as conflicting needs?

Which of the underserved groups should be given priority and how should we establish these priorities?

Lastly, I will also need to adopt a complaint and challenge policy (p. 96). There are excellent resources out there for this. I attended a session at ALA about this topic, and got a taste of some of the issues that arise when a parent/guardian initiates a complaint about a title or submits a formal challenge. I will need to make sure I have strong administrative support on this one.

Evans, G. E. (2008). Reflections on creating information service collections. In K. Haycock & B. E. Sheldon (Eds.), The portable MLIS: Insights from the experts (pp. 87-97). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

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