Saturday, August 29, 2009

250 Words: Collection Management

It is time for staff, hired for their expertise, to be given back the responsibility of selecting for the collection.

As is stands, there are exactly two people selecting all non-fiction for the entire system. They are good, experienced Librarians. The expectation placed upon them, to find books in every subject suitable for a system the size of SPL, is unreasonable. When the system went from most every librarian selecting material to a team of selectors, the expectation placed upon that team was also unreasonable.

Here are some of the results of the selector system, going backwards:

Many books, purchased within the last few years, are being discarded because they have never circulated. (Many are juvenile titles.) Sent to the branches by a contractor, who processes the books for the shelf, no one who works for the library has had a chance to see them before they are delivered. Our selectors buy them, often based only upon an Ingram or publisher recommendation. The only people who every touch the books are in some way affiliated with the library.

They do not circulate because they are of such poor quality, physically and as literature, it is a wonder they were published. Because the library is not using the expertise of their staff the Library is wasting money.

I predicted the redefinition of the scope of the collection. Currently, little care is given in the selection and purchase of books. This needs to change.

Gerald F. Ward

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