Hoarding is not collection development
Taking Your Library Career to the Next Level
PLA Weeding Manual
Making a Collection Count

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Practical Librarian

This is the place that we put more serious discussions of librarianship.

Shelf Reading and Shifting ALB

change 1Like any collection, monitoring, shifting and keeping it fresh is the job of the librarian. Awful Library Books is no exception. ALB began as a platform to preach about the perils of ignoring a collection. Since we are still here almost five years later, we decided to expand our mission a bit. ALB will now include some of our own experiences and advice we have for taming a collection. To begin with, we have posted basic articles on getting started in collection management, weeding, etc. If you are a newbie, you will find this particularly helpful. Also, you will be happy to know that since we both have the attention span of fly, these articles are pretty short and to the point.

Regular ALB postings will continue, but now we have added a tab on the menu called Practical Librarian. Feel free to join us for some quick and dirty professional development.


(Image creative commons courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/29233640@N07/14859431605)

Collection Policy vs. Guidelines

child-bookMy library has a Materials Selection Policy that is roughly a page and a half long.  We also have a separate, five page “Collection Management Guidelines” document for staff.  Here’s the difference:

Materials Selection Policy
The word policy means it’s official.  It has been blessed by the Library Board and it’s semi-permanent and mostly set in stone.  I say “semi” and “mostly” because policies are updated every now and then and can be recommended for update any time.  For the most part, though, they are meant to be long-term.

Policies are for patrons.  They govern what people can expect from the library and what we expect from them.  Do patrons read our policies?  Well, not very often.  I’ve never been the type of librarian to slap a printed policy in front of a patron and say, “See here? You’re breaking our policy!” or “Says here we don’t DO that!”  It’s one thing to make patrons aware of a policy and another to use policies defensively.  So, what’s the part of the collection management process that patrons are most likely to need to be made aware of? Selection. Our Materials Selection Policy includes a section on weeding and maintenance, as well as “Requests for Reconsideration of Library Materials.”  Those are the pieces of collection management that we are likely to need to talk to patrons about, so those are the pieces that our Library Board has chosen to highlight in policy.

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Another Baby Step in Collection Analysis

As we discussed in my post Using Excel in Collection Analysis, go slow and work a small data set into the ground until you feel comfortable. While you are in “learning mode”, use enough data to fit comfortably on the screen, so you can “see” everything at once. For this example, I am using 20 random records from my Juvenile Fiction collection and I am going to focus on evaluating age.

Average is a term thrown around a lot in data analysis. Calculating average is adding up all the dates and then dividing by the number of titles. In other words a couple of really old books can skew the average. So, for library and collection purposes, you need to look deeper. As you can see in my sample data set, the average age of this group of items is 1990.3 or for our purposes 1990. That seems really old, given we are starting 2013. I am now going to re-order the spreadsheet to organize the 20 records in Date Published order (oldest to newest).

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