Collection development

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Library collection development is the process of meeting the information needs of the people (a service population) in a timely and economical manner using information resources locally held, as well as from other organizations.[1]

According to the The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), acquisition and collection development focuses on methodological and topical themes pertaining to acquisition of print and other analogue library materials (by purchase, exchange, gift, legal deposit), and the licensing and purchase of electronic information resources.[2]

Members of the collection development committee are responsible to take measures in order to weed and develop collections and materials based on necessity.

Collections are developed by librarians and library staff by buying or otherwise acquiring materials over a period, based on assessment of the information needs of the library's users. In addition to ongoing materials acquisition, library collection development includes:

  • the creation of policies to guide material selection
  • replacement of worn or lost materials
  • removal (weeding) of materials no longer needed in the collection
  • planning for new collections or collection areas
  • cooperative decision-making with other libraries or within library consortia

Weeding is an important but difficult aspect of collection development in a library. A librarian may withdraw materials based on the condition, age, relevancy, or lack of space for an item. A professional may decide to replace such items or leave the absence in the collection. The significant act is not without opposition. Historically, both patrons and other librarians criticize weeding books. Some believe libraries should keep all materials in circulation no matter the condition or need for room in the facility for newer material.[3]

Collection evaluation methods[edit]

Some library evaluation methods include the checklists method, circulation and interlibrary loan statistics, citation analysis, network usage analysis, vendor-supplied statisticsm and faculty opinion.

Selection Vs. Censorship[edit]

When acquiring new materials for a library’s collection, it can be difficult to differentiate between selection and censorship. The American Library Association speaks of collections development as selecting materials that are desired by the community as well as fulfilling other educational and recreational criteria. The organization comments that a librarian should not purposely omit the purchase of books or other items due to them being controversial in nature, the author’s religious or political views, or the librarian’s personal beliefs. From the ALA website, they continue the argument by stating that, “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.” [4]

Checklists method[edit]

This method of collection evaluation is the practice of checking a library collection against a list of notable books or materials to see if the collection includes these titles. This is the oldest method of collection evaluation, and its first recorded use occurs in 1849 by Charles Jewett at the Smithsonian Institution.

Citation analysis[edit]

Citation analysis is the method most used on the college and university level. This method looks at frequently used citations from bibliographies, indexes, and references to see if the resources used are included in the learning institute's partner library.[5] The purpose is to see if the written work produced can be done using only the library located at the college or university. Citation analysis is a good research method to use in academic libraries on the university and college level when performing a collections evaluation. This method is performed by studying bibliographies from many sources such as student papers, faculty research publications, along with theses and dissertations. This information is then used to see what percentage of the items cited in the bibliographies have come from the academic library’s collection. Citation analysis is used to see if the work produced at the university or college has been written using sources mainly from the academic library at that learning institution.

Faculty Opinion[edit]

When faculty opinion about a library collection is asked the feelings, beliefs, values, and individual views about how well the library collection fits the curriculum of that learning institution are answered. Both librarians and teaching faculties opinions should be asked, and taken into account, as the evaluation of the library collection should be a cooperative effort that yields the best results possible. It is important to have the most current, and updated collection possible as a deficient collection could impact the learning institution negatively. The research method of faculty opinion to evaluate academic library collections will help aid the library with finding out what the strengths and weaknesses are so that these points can be corrected, and the gaps found can be filled. The faculty members who have the most responsibility for evaluating and building library collections are the Collection Development Librarians, and the institution’s faculty especially professors.


Baker & Taylor




Leased Books[edit]

Leased books is an option many book vendors offer to libraries for an agreed on period of time. Leasing books is a form of acquiring books for a library's collection with the benefit of always staying current with popular materials. A librarian can order leased books while a title is in demand and then send them back when those needs no longer exist. The thought process behind leasing books is to provide patrons with many copies of books while there is a high demand but when the item is no longer popular have room in the collection for the next most wanted item. Usually a library gets a discounted rate if they lease a large quantity of books at a time or pay off a lease early.[6]

Collection Aids[edit]

Collection Development Journals[edit]

Acquisitions Librarian

Against The Grain

Library Acquisitions: Practice and Theory

The Serials Librarian

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Evans, G. Edward (2000). Developing Library and Information Center Collections. Libraries Unlimited. pp. 15–16. 
  2. ^ The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
  3. ^ Johnson, P. (2013). Is Weeding an Unnatural Act? Technicalities, 33(5), 2-4.
  4. ^ American Library Association. (2014). Diversity in Collection Development. Retrieved From:
  5. ^ LaBonte, Kristen (Summer 2005). "Citation Analysis: A Method for Collection Development for a Rapidly Developing Field". sues in Science and Technology Librarianship. doi:10.5062/F4TX3CB1. Retrieved October 13, 2014. 
  6. ^

Further reading[edit]

  • Asheim, Lester (1957). The Humanities in the Library: Problems in the Interpretation, Evaluation, and Use of Library Materials. Chicago: American Library Association.
  • Evans, G. Edward (1987). Developing Library and Information Center Collections. Second ed. In "Library Science Text Series". Littleton, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited. ISBN 0-87287-546-6
  • Faculty Participation in Collection Development. (February, 2013). Laurence McKinley Gould Library. Retrieved from
  • Gregory, V. (2011). Collection Development and Management for 21st Century Library Collections: An Introduction. New York: NY. Neal Schuman Publishers, Inc.
  • Hicks, Warren B. and Alma M. Tillin (1970). Developing Multi-Media Libraries. New York: R.R. Bowker Co. SBN 8352-0265-8
  • Trinkner, Charles L. (1963). Basic Books for Junior College Libraries: 20,000 Vital Titles. Northport, Ala.: Colonial Press.
  • Wulfekoetter, Gertrude (1961). Acquisitions Work: Processes Involved in Building Library Collections. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

External links[edit]