plcPublic Library Core Collection: Nonfiction
13th edition

This reference book (and also database) is more commonly known as the Public Library Catalog, or the PLC. It lists titles that are considered “core” for the average public library nonfiction collection. I have opinions about it. Are you surprised?

This can be a handy tool for a number of reasons:
-Wondering if a title is cataloged correctly? There are a lot of ways to check that, including looking it up in the PLC. Subject headings and call numbers are provided for the titles it includes.

-Wondering if a title should be kept vs. weeded? Look it up in the PLC to see if it is considered a “core” title.

-Building a library from scratch? Look for titles considered “core” in each subject area to give you a starting point.

Here’s what it is not intended for:
-Giving the final answer in that keep or weed scenario. Circulation data means more than a listing in the PLC. Is the item being used, or has it been a shelf-sitter for a while? Personally, I don’t care what the PLC says. If a book has been sitting untouched for several years, the community has spoken: it’s unwanted. Besides, I can probably ILL it from somewhere if I weed it.

-Defining a collection. Your library’s mission and collection management policy define your collection. The PLC can’t speak to the intricacies and specifics of your community. Let your users lead the way in collection scope, and write mission statements and collection policies that follow their lead.

The PLC is a great starting point and a handy reference tool. It should be taken with a grain of salt and never supercede what the public demands. You never have to buy a title just because it is listed in the PLC, and you never have to keep a title just because it is listed in the PLC. It is one set of data among all the other collection data available to you.


Originally published at on 8/27/2011

One comment

  1. For all the mony they charge for it, they should be able to afford a better cover illustrator.

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