Component 1: Statement of Competency
At the heart of a library is its collection. The purpose of this collection is based surely on the library’s mission. “As budgets remain tight, the allocation of scarce resources requires that libraries answer important questions about their primary functions so that they might make these allocations wisely” (Rubin, 2007, p185).
Upon entering the profession many information professionals are presented with an existing collection with in which they must help maintain, build and perfect. The key to maintaining a collection is to remember that the growth of the collection does not mean acquiring only but also shaping it towards the needs/desires of the patrons, weeding the collection of unnecessary items, adding quality material over quantity of material and securing it in the event of a disaster. “They [librarians] maintain the collections by reviewing titles for preservation, replacement, off-site storage, or removal” (Haycock & Sheldon, 2008, p51).
The hardest of these is shaping the collection to fit the needs of the patrons. Over recent years many libraries have adopted what has been referred to as PDAs or Patron Driven Acquisitions. While I worked at an academic library, the library budget has a set amount set aside specifically for PDA requests. I helped process these requests and while occasionally some of the selectors would submit requests through our PDA system, predominantly it was patron centered.
How PDA requests work is the library develops a set of standards for the types of material they want to receive PDA records from vendors. These standards can include publication date, exclusion or inclusion of certain subject material, inclusion/exclusion of material types, classification ranges and format (electronic, physical, serial, hard bound, etcetera). These records then get loaded into the library’s catalog so they are searchable by users and then when a patron clicks on the record of interest, if it is a PDA record they are usually prompted to click on a link (this is presented in the 856 field) that will send the request to the acquisitions department where they will then order the item. This form of collection building helps secure that the purchases (physical or electronic) for the collection are direct requests of the patrons.
Libraries spend a great deal of time and money on building their collections however it is vital that they also spend money on insuring the safety of their collections. They can do this by investing time in ensuring safety of the collection is also related to managing the facility, preservation of material, security of items against theft or crime, and having a disaster plan in place.
Libraries can ensure the safety of the collection by implementing RFID tags in items, security systems in entrance gates, locking down computer towers and securing the system. This will help minimize the possibility of acts of theft to the collection.
The agreement on the preservation of material will prove itself to be difficult as departments may have different ideas of what should and shouldn’t be a priority. Another instance that took place while I was working in an academic library was developing and implementing a new policy on serial subscriptions and binding policies. With electronic resources becoming ever more prevalent and accessible through database subscriptions libraries looking to be e-preferred libraries will look to eliminate print subscriptions, primarily dealing with serials. During this implementation policy there was discussion on which serials in the collection we would for sure continue the subscription to in both print and electronic format; it took several meetings before the decision was made. “A further challenge for managers is the changing nature of collections and service patterns and the accelerating rate of change” (Rubin, 2007, p493).
One of the most important aspects and often last on the list in collection maintenance is what to do in the event of a disaster, natural or not; “Developing such a plan requires time and effort, but is essential” (ibid, p489). Very few libraries have in their budget to maintain a perfect facility; disaster planning and facility management go hand in hand. Keeping the facility in good working order will help avoid unnecessary disasters such as water leaks during hard rain storms because corners were cut in repairing the roof.
When it comes to collection maintenance, development of the collection is priority. It is important to keep in mind the focus of the collection, the purpose of the collection and the quality of the collection. Having a collection of 1.2 million items where 60,000 or more items have not circulated in over 10 years does not maintain the aspect of quality. Weeding, sometimes viewed as a bad word in the library world, is essential is collection maintenance. Having policies in place specifically for the collection development will help make this process less painful and more rewarding for the library.
Component 2: Justification of Evidence and Evidence:
My first piece of evidence I chose to include is a discussion post on the [Disaster_Plan_Cornell]. I briefly reviewed and linked to Cornell University Library’s disaster plan. This piece of evidence shows my understanding of the importance of a disaster plan and having a policy in place as well as my ability to evaluate this policy in strengths and weaknesses.
My second piece of evidence I chose to include is a [Millennium Record Updating Procedures for Serials sent to stacks] I worked on when implementing a new policy into the collection dealing with serials management. This policy work was a collaborative effort with colleagues. I chose this piece of evidence to show my understanding of implementing new policies for collection maintenance. This policy required significant changes in how staff and student workers handled incoming serials as well as processing serials that were being sent to the stacks or removed from the collection based on a retention policy. This also shows my understanding and ability to work with other staff members to coming to an agreement on a policy for maintain the collection.
My final piece of evidence I included is a set of work from my Libr298 special studies course. This evidence includes: metaverse-library-sci-fi-exhibit-may-2013, a list of completed books that I created in the InWorldz Community Library science fiction collection and a list of authors and notations on their published works [ Science Fiction Books]. The magazine highlights the science fiction collection that was created for this particular exhibit. In the magazine on page 50 includes an excerpt about my work with InWorldz and the library collection I helped build. The excel worksheet shows my knowledge of adhering to specific collection standards: science fiction, open access, and if the book was digitized or had audio with it. This project required me and one other student to develop the collection for the library. We researched popular science fiction authors and listed works that either satisfied the criteria for the collection or were main contributors to science fiction and thus should be included in the collection. The word document is a listing of the authors I submitted for approval and the works I recommended we included in the collection.
Understanding the basics to maintaining a library’s collection is knowledge every library professional should have. The collection is the heart of the library; it is what brings in funding, what brings in patrons, and why the library exists at all. Collection maintenance, development, weeding, preservation, and protection, is an ongoing process that takes precious resources however as the library’s heart, just as our bodies, without it we will cease to exist.
Haycock, K. and Sheldon, B. (2008). The portable MLIS: insights from the experts. Westport: Libraries Unlimited.
Rubin, R. E. (2010). The Values and Ethics of Library and Information Science. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc.