Collection Development: One Book at a Time

One of the challenges I have faced during my first year in my position is getting a handle on collection development duties. My areas of responsibility are Health Studies and Education. Health Studies includes Nursing (degree), Addictions Counseling, Paramedic, Social Work, Massage Therapy and Therapy Assistant. Education includes a general education collection and a K-6 specific curriculum collection for students in the B.Ed. program.

In the college environment we strive to maintain a current, balanced collection to support our diverse programs. We have degree programs, trades, and many diploma programs to consider, and our student population is diverse. It’s been a challenge to determine the level appropriate for our students, especially considering the different programs have different expectations and standards.

I’ve realized that it is only through working with students and faculty directly that collection development can be successful. Otherwise, I would be projecting what I think is appropriate material for these programs.

The other positive (but intimidating) thing about collection development in the college is that we do not have any vendor approval plans in place. This means that each and every book in our collection has been specifically selected by our 3 librarians (with input from faculty). Time consuming? Yes. Rewarding? Extremely.

The downside is that there are obviously quality materials that do not get chosen simply because we are not aware they exist. It’s up to us to stay up to date, monitoring countless publishers’ websites and review sources. The upside is that I know exactly what is in my collection.

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