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Friday, November 14, 2014

My Collection Development Philosophy in a Soundbite

Today I got to spend 2 hours with a library graduate student who was interviewing me for her Readers' Advisory course final paper.

I have done this many times before...heck, I taught the class for 8 years...but nothing makes you really think about why you do what you do more than being interviewed by a grad student.

To prepare for her visit, I really sat down and thought about the questions she was going to ask me.  As a result, I had to think about everything I do, much of it without conscious thought anymore [14 years will do that even to the more introspective among us].

One of the questions she asked me, which I did think about ahead of time, was to define our collection development philosophy.  I came up with the following phrase...

Our fiction collection is Responsive and Responsible.

I am proud of that one because it describes what we strive to do and it is alliterative [always a happy bonus]. But what does it actually mean?

My service community is a pretty typical working to middle class, major city suburb.  We need to have all the big name best sellers, the classics, and a wide collection of good reads in between.

We listen to our patrons, both what they tell us they like AND what the data shows us they like.  We find backlist gems that they should have liked, but might have missed, and pull them out in displays to give them another try.  We don't spend money on titles no one will read.

Click here for a longer post from 2011 when I wrote at length about ordering fiction for a general collection.

The larger point I want to make here is NOT to have you simply appropriate my CD philosophy, but to really think about your own.  Think about what you are trying to accomplish as a whole, and then try to pare it down into a simply word or phrase. Sometimes a soundbite is a great way to remind yourself of the WHYs behind your daily job. And, I have not lost the irony of the fact that this is much like honing the essence of a book down into 3 appeal terms.

Also, inviting grad students into your libraries and allowing yourselves to be interviewed for their term papers is another great way to keep you on your toes.  We happen to be right down the road from a major MLIS program, but with Internet degrees, anyone could have MLIS students living in their communities.  Make sure you are on their radar.

Get yourself involved with the education of our career's future.  You will help them to learn by observing "real world" applications of the theory they are learning, AND they will help you to reevaluate your decision making processes.  It is a CE boon for both parties.

Me, I'm going back to being responsive and responsible.

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