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]

Collection development policy[edit]

The development and implementation of a collection development policy is a best practices for libraries and archives, and addresses issues such as:

  • material selection and acquisition
  • replacement of worn or lost materials
  • removal (weeding) of materials no longer needed in the collection
  • planning for new collections or collection areas
  • institutional mission
  • 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]

According to the IFLA there are four primary reasons for a written collection development policy: selection, planning, public relations, and the wider context. A written selection guidelines provide staff with the tools to access and evaluate potential additional collection materials as well as basis for denying the acceptance of materials. Beyond the addition of new materials this section can also define the parameters for weeding materials, storage standards, and preservation of unstable collection objects. Secondly, planning aides in make decisions for future improvement in library infrastructure and proper distribution of funds for the institution. Thirdly, in the current environment of limited funding and competition between departments and agencies a written collection policy aids in the public relation of the library. This document can be a tool to exhibit for potential donors or grant applications the future needs of the library including assets and services. Lastly, in terms of the wider context the document can aid in collaboration with other institutions in an effort to fulfill the needs of their patrons and community. Each institution will have a better understand of the plans for each and how they can assist each other in achieving these goals.[4]

Collection evaluation methods[edit]

Some library evaluation methods include the checklists method, circulation and interlibrary loan statistics, citation analysis, network usage analysis, vendor-supplied statistics 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.” [5]

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 Coffin 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.[6] 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.

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.[7]

Collection Aids[edit]

Academic Journals about Collection Development[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. ^ Guidelines for a Collection Development Policy Using the Conspectus Model
  5. ^ American Library Association. (2014). Diversity in Collection Development. Retrieved From:
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^

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.
  • American Library Association Collection Development
  • Intner, S. s. (2016). Forbidden Genres. Technicalities, 36(1), 14-16.
  • Mangrum, S., & Pozzebon, M. E. (2012). Use of collection development policies in electronic resource management. Collection Building, 31(3), 108-114.
  • Hoffmann, F. W., & Wood, R. J. (2007). Library collection development policies : school libraries and learning resource centers. Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 2007.
  • Chant, I. (2015). THE ART OF WEEDING. Library Journal, 140(11), 34-37.
  • Link, F. l., Tosaka, Y. t., & Weng, C. w. (2015). Mining and Analyzing Circulation and ILL Data for Informed Collection Development. College & Research Libraries, 76(6), 740-755.
  • Westervelt, T. (2015). Acquisition and Management of Digital Content at the Library of Congress. Serials Librarian, 68(1-4), 269-273.

External links[edit]