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Essay on Collection Management Policies

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Submitted By montessjoe
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In the 2000s, more and more electronic resources have become part of the stock of most libraries. The complex issues surrounding the selection and management of electronic information resources may arise many problems. Written collection development policies are suggested to solve these problems. Thus the library should update its collection management policy document, which was several years old, to adapt the changes in this 21st century. The purposes of this essay are to discuss the importance of written collection management policy and the methods of revising the document relevant to a library at the beginning of the 2000s.
Collection Development Policy
According to Evans (1995), “Collection development” and “Collection management” are often used with much the same meaning – the process of meeting the information needs of a service population in a timely and economic manner using information resources locally held as well as from other organizations. Jenkins and Morley (1999) explain that “Collection development” implies building and growing, dealing with the selection and acquisition of library materials, while “Collection management” emphasizes the systematic management of a library’s existing collection, rather than selection and acquisition. However, American Library Association (1996) states that collection development includes selection, acquisition, user assessment, collection evaluation, collection maintenance and weeding.
It is usually held that, to be effective, collection management must be based on an agreed, regularly reviewed collection development policy. “Collection development policy” (CDP) is the written statement of a plan to correct collection weaknesses while maintaining its strengths and provide details to guide the library staff (Evans 1995). The American Library Association (1996, p.15) defines CDP as documents which define the scope of a library's existing collections, plan for the continuing development of resources, identify collection strengths, and outline the relationship between selection philosophy and the institution's goals, general selection criteria, and intellectual freedom.
While ACLIS (1990, p.1) sees CDP as a statement of general collection building principles which delineates the purpose and content of a collection in terms relevant to both external and internal audiences.
It can therefore be said that CDP is a document drawn up by a specific library to provide guidelines whereby the collection is developed and managed to meet the needs of that particular user group. The policy should also explain the acquisition and collection management practices of the library.
Arguments against writing a Collection Development Policy
Some libraries hesitate to write collection development policy. Snow (1996), an opponent to the CDP, states that written collection development policies are just wasted words. According to him, librarians must involve in collection evaluation, which require hours of labor and substantial amount of money to finish before writing an effective policy. Large quantities of data such as strengths and weaknesses of the collection, resources available to patrons, etc. are required (Evans 1995). Snow (1996) also believes that the written policy is inflexible and fails to adapt to changes in the parent institution and the community. Continuous revisions of the policy are time-consuming and never ending. A further problem is that CDP has no value in libraries where professors do most of the selection. It is also useless in cooperative venture because library tends to develop its own collection according to local needs.
Why have a Collection Development Policy in the 2000s
In 1977, a survey of the Association of Research Libraries indicated that only 29% of its members had written policies. Another survey in 1988 produced a higher percentage (58%) of small and medium-sized libraries using collection development policy (Snow 1996). It was also found in a recent survey conducted by Casserly and Hegg (1993) amongst academic libraries in the United States that 71.6% of the respondents indicated that they have written collection development policies. Although the value of collection policies is not universally accepted, library professionals believe that a collection development policy statement is a necessary tool leading to consistent, informed decisions (Johnson 1997).
Odini (1994) finds that the lack of CDP statement at the Kenya Polytechnic Library makes it impossible to identify the needs of the clientele and to establish priorities for the allocation of resources to meet those needs. CDP statement would be an important expression of those priorities in the order in which they relate to the development of library resources.
Use as a planning document
The reduction in funding and inflation in the price per item, especially in electronic resources, make librarian difficult to plan for future collection. The CDP is an important planning document for the library. The policies describe the user community, define the institutional mission and assess user needs. This information provides a conceptual framework to guide budget preparation and allocation (Johnson 1997). Besides, priorities for collection management such as selection, deselection, preservation, storage are guided by collection goals. White and Crawford (1997) advocate the use of a CDP, particularly with regard to electronic resources, in order to guide us in our decisions, to address user needs, and to help us plan for future.
Use as a vehicle for communication
The proliferation of electronic formats available have made the task of selection even more complex than in the past. Policy statements formally document practice. They serve to coordinate selection when responsibilities for selection are dispersed among many selectors.
The process of selection of library material is complex and many selectors approach the task with little training or guidance. CDP can be used as a training document for librarians in the performance of their duties. Thus more control in selection and management of collection could foster shared values among the selectors (Johnson 1997). Besides, Evans (1995) states that a written policy can assure continuity and consistency in the collecting program despite changes in staff and funding.
Use as a means of protection
CDP can serve to protect intellectual freedom and prevent censorship. Groups might strive to impose censorship on the library or try to get the library to purchase irrelevant materials. CDP can provide guidelines to protect the library from those pressures. Written guidelines in CDP can also help the library avoid the burden of inappropriate items and specify the conditions under which the library accepts gifts (Johnson 1997).
The action of weeding library materials and changing materials from printed formats to electronic formats often provides vocal reactions from users. CDP can protect the library from bias and explain action of the library.
How to revised the CDP of the 2000s
Getting start
Firstly, a committee is formed to draw up the policy. The role of the committee is to offer advice to the editor of the policy, support the process, and ensure that the policy represents a reasonable level of consensus (Whitehead 1989). It is unusual for a single person to draw up the policy. The committee should include only the library staff or also include non-library staff of the parent institution or organization. This may be the only way to arrive at a mutually acceptable policy. Besides, The members of the committee must be enthusiastic about the project and should have the knowledge to see the smooth progress of the project (van Zijl, 1998).
Moreover, a timetable should be drawn up to indicate the progress of the project. It is also important that responsibilities of members should be assigned. Goals of the library and the parent institution or organization should be clearly stated. Collection evaluation and user assessment should be done in order to meet the needs of users.
Style of presentation
The style of the written policy should be simple and clear so that it can be easy to read. In order to combat the problem of CDP being too rigid, the wording provides for as much flexibility as possible so that it can be apply to any new changes (van Zijl, 1998).
Writing the policy
Certain issues are usually considered for inclusion in collection development policies. These include the following (Whitehead 1989):
The mission and goals of the library and the parent institution or organization
The purpose of CDP
The policy context
Clientele served
Background to the collection
Type of access.
Statements about formats
A breakdown of collection policies by subject or library development or other aspect.
Statements about weeding and discard
Statements about other collections and resources
Something about how the policy will be amended
Appendices can be forms which will be used to guide decision making. These may include checklists, questionnaires or decision matrices to guide bibliographers in the evaluation of criteria, as well as the procedures for acquiring, cataloging, processing and managing electronic resources.
After finish writing the policy, the committee should review the document again. It can consult legal counsel to review the areas dealing with copyright, licensing agreement and other aspects which have legal implications, especially in electronic resources.
Collection policies of electronic resources
The availability of electronic resources such as CD-ROM and databases via the Internet in the 2000s are changing the complexion of locally owned collection. Therefore electronic resources collection management decisions require special attention. Electronic information collection policy is considered to be a vehicle for coordinating the development of print and electronic components of collection (Johnson 1997).
Electronic information is delivered in new and rapidly changing formats. The skills necessary to understand and use electronic information resources are different from traditional resources. CDP can provide a framework that suggests the decisions that need to be made (Johnson 1997).
The total cost, which may include hardware, access software, site preparation, technical support, connect costs and maintenance, etc., lead to high price to acquire or access a single electronic resource. These costs go far beyond those of the traditional materials. As a result, the policies should include statements that can guide decisions about funding the infrastructure and about technical feasibility.
Negotiating licenses is a new phenomenon for most libraries in this 21st century. CDP protects libraries in legal matters, for examples, agreements on limitations on access and ownership of discs and tapes, restrictions on downloading and duplicating support documentation and copyright restrictions. The policies should clarify who has responsibility for selecting electronic resources and who has authority for negotiating and signing contracts.
Moreover, CDP should include guidelines for selection and deselection of material which specify the criteria to be employed and the procedure for removing material. For examples, the time frame for running a link-checking program and measurement criteria for technical performance (stability and access) (Skov 1998).
It is valuable to include a section clarifying what type of access is provided to the collection such as the hardware for accessing electronic media. ACLIS (1990) suggests that CDP should include possible restrictions to remote access to electronic media and spell out hypertext links to Internet web sites on the library’s OPAC’s as an additional means of providing access to information.
The compilation of a collection development policy is a time-consuming task and that without continuous care, revision and attention the CDP could become out of date and useless. However, according to the above analysis, it seems that a carefully drawn up and regularly revised CDP must have great value in a library. Many libraries are trying to adapt the CDP to meet the needs of the new electronic library environment. Since there is so much uncertainty and disorganization in library which trying to function without a collection development policy, CDP is the best option to go for in coordinating activities relating to collection management in libraries. Bibliographies
ACLIS (1990). Guidelines for the preparation of a collection development policy. ACLIS News, 3,4. [Online]. Available: American Library Association. (1996). Guide for written collection policy statements. ALA: Chicago.

Casserly, M.F. & Hegg, J.L. (1993). A study of collection development personnel training and evaluation in academic libraries. Acquisitions: practice & theory, 17, pp.249-262.

Evans, G. E. (1995). Developing library and information center collections. 3rd edn. Library Science Text Series. Libraries Unlimited: Englewood, Colorado.

Gibson Smith, M. (1991). Collection development: why write a policy? In Achieving excellence: proceedings of the 4th Asian Pacific Special and Law Librarians Conference with 9th Biennial Health Librarians’ Conference, Canberra, 1-5 September 1991, pp.209-213.

Jenkins, C. & Morley, M. (eds) (1999). Collection management in academic libraries. 2nd edn. Gower: Aldershot.

Johnson, P. (1997). Collection development policies and electronic information resources. In Collection management for the 21st century: a handbook for librarians; edited by G.E. Gorman, R.H. Miller. Greenwood Press: Westport, Conn.

Odini, C. (1994). Collection development: the experience of Kenya Polytechnic Library. Library Management (online) 15(4), pp.12-16. From ABI/INFORM (database). Vendor: Ovid.

Skov, A. (1998). Internet quality. Database (online) 21(4), pp.38-40. From ABI/INFORM (database). Vendor: Ovid.

Snow, R. (1996). Wasted words: the written collection development policy and the academic library. Journal of academic librarianship, 22(3), pp.191-194.

van Zijl, C. (1998). The why, what, and how of collection development policies. South African Journal of Library & Information Science (online) 66(3), pp.99-107. From Academic Search Elite (database). Vendor: EBSCO.

White, G.W. & Crawford, G.A. (1997). Developing an electronic information resources collection development policy. Collection building, 16(2), pp.53-57.

Whitehead, D. (1989). How to write a collection development policy. Acquisitions, 6(2), pp.25-28.

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