COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT POLICY GUIDELINES FOR
SCHOOL LIBRARY MEDIA PROGRAMS
The attached policy outline includes those elements which meet the criteria
established by the Montana State Library Commission for its Blacktail
Collection management policies, considered and formally adopted by governing
entities, are a prerequisite to maintaining a useful materials collection.
Accordingly, the Commission now requires that any entity applying to the
Commission for any grants after July 1, 1986, shall have a written collection
management policy in place and on file at the Montana State Library. The
requirements for Collection Management Policy approval have been augmented.
The new requirement states that the library's collection management policy
must be reviewed and updated (with the current board chair/legal authority's
and director/librarian's signatures) at least once every three yearsand
resubmitted in its entirety to the Montana State Library.
It is important, therefore, that all libraries in Montana develop and
adopt a policy in order to be eligible for future funds which are administered
by the Commission.
This is an outline for a collection development policy, not a selection
policy. A selection policy describes the procedures and policies for adding
material to the collection. A collection development policy includes the
elements of a selection policy, but it also describes how the library`s
collection serves its users, where the strengths and weaknesses are, how
the collection relates to those in other local libraries, and what the
goals are for the development of the collection.
The policy should be written for the library staff, the library board,
the governing organization, and the patrons of the library. It should
both guide the collection development activities and explain those activities
and their results to others.
The length of such a policy varies with the complexity of the collection
and the complexity of the community of users the collection serves. Each
category in the outline is important and should be addressed, at least
to the extent appropriate for your library. Your statements within each
category may vary from one sentence to several paragraphs. Unlike most
policies, the collection development policy should err on the side of
specifics rather than generalities. The questions and statements within
each section of the outline are for your guidance in considering your
library`s situation and in writing the policy.
You may want to start with brief statements, especially if this is your
first attempt at writing a collection development policy. The process
of examining the current collection and planning for its development is
more important than the actual document. Also, a collection development
policy should not be static. It should be frequently reviewed and changed
to reflect changes in the library's goals and in the collection itself.
School districts may want to consider a collection development policy
for the district that mentions all of the individual school libraries
collections. If district wide collection decisions are made then a district
wide policy would be appropriate.
As you work on your collection management policy, if you need further
input or have questions, please call the Montana State Library, Statewide
Library Resources, at 406-444-5349.
- Mission Statement: What is the library's reason for existence? What
is the library's role in the community? The mission of the governing
organization or parent institution may also be included.
- Purpose of the Policy: How will the policy be used for library management,
planning, and accountability to the governing organization and library
- Community and User Groups Defined: Briefly describe the community
served (town, county, school, business, etc.) in terms of size, population,
location, economic base, etc. Describe the primary, secondary and occasional
users of the library in terms of ages, education levels, occupations,
numbers, frequency of use, reasons for use, etc.
- Patron Needs and Services/Programs Defined: What educational, recreational,
and/or research needs must be met? Consider the needs of children, students,
senior citizens, handicapped, business people, and other segments of
the population. What services and/or programs does the library offer
to meet these needs? (Examples: children's programs, homebound service,
literacy tutoring, online database searching, telefax delivery of interlibrary
loan materials, etc.) What needs are not being met?
- Brief General Statement Describing the Collection: In general, how
would you describe the library's collection? What is the size (in volumes
or titles)? By how much does it grow each year? What reading or information
levels (preschool, school levels, adult, technical/professional) are
- Cooperative Collection Development & Interlibrary Loan: How does
use of interlibrary loan affect collection decisions? What cooperative
agreements, if any, are in effect? Do you have deposit collection arrangements
with other libraries, classroom teachers, the jail, nursing homes, etc.?
Are the holdings of other libraries in WLN or within the community considered
before a title is purchased? Under what circumstances?
B. GENERAL PRIORITIES, LIMITATIONS AND POLICIES
- Chronological Coverage: This refers primarily to the publication
dates of the titles in the collection. Do you have mostly current information?
Are older publications kept for historical or research purposes? Distinguish
between older material intentionally retained and material that needs
to be withdrawn.
- Formats: Describe which formats of information the library collects:
books, periodicals, newspapers, sound recordings, videotapes, films,
slides, software, microfilm, CD-ROM, online databases, etc. Are paperbacks,
textbooks, large print or microforms purchased or collected? Under what
circumstances and to what extent? Is there a need to collect in a format
you don't yet have?
- Multiple Copies: Does the library normally purchase multiple copies
of books or other items? How is the determination made to purchase or
place in the collection duplicates?
- Languages: Is material collected in languages other than English?
(Examples: "Maintain collection of adult and juvenile Spanish fiction."
"Collect classic French and German literature to support undergraduate
- Funding Considerations: How are funds for materials obtained and
allocated? Are funds obtained from any special sources, such as a trust
fund, donation fund, friends group, grants? Are funding formulas tied
- Collection Responsibilities and Selection Procedures: Who selects
materials? What general processes or procedures are involved? What criteria
are used for selection? The information from an existing selection policy
could be reviewed and added here.
- Collection Maintenance: Why, when and by what criteria do you withdraw
or weed items? (Examples of weeding guidelines: outdated information;
poor physical condition; unneeded duplicates; subject not within scope
of collection development policy.) Policies concerning rebinding, repair
and replacements should be addressed here.
- Complaints and Censorship: Include the full procedure, policy and
forms used by the library. The Library Bill of Rights, The Freedom to
Read statement, and any other relevant policies should be appended to
the collection policy.
- Gifts Policy: Do you accept anything offered? What do you add to
the collection? How do you dispose of unwanted gifts? Do you accept
gifts with "strings" or restrictions attached? Do you accept
monetary gifts, bequests? Who makes the decisions about gifts? Be sure
to mention that you do not appraise materials and therefore will give
receipts only for the number of items, not for their value.
C. SUBJECT AREAS COLLECTED
- Subjects: The detail of this section will depend on the size and
needs of the library. Three common approaches are described below. Choose
or adapt the one most relevant to your library's collection. Be as general
or as specific as you need to be to have useful information for development
of the collection. a. Broad categories, e.g. History, Science &
Technology, Social Sciences, Literature, General Reference, Religion,
etc., or curriculum areas. b. Broad classification number categories:
Dewey: 000's, 100's, 200's, 300's...
Library of Congress: A's, B's, C's...
c. Specific classification number categories, for example:
||Indians of North
||Discovery & exploration
- Present Collection Levels: Within each of the subject categories
established in section #1, give a brief description of your current
collection in that subject. Be sure to include all formats: books, periodicals,
audiovisual, government publications, etc. in your description and assessment
of each subject area. At the minimum, give some indication of the strengths
and weaknesses of your collection in each subject area. (Examples: "The
library does not collect in this area." "Have current reference
sources, 10-15 circulating books, but all are more than 25 years old.")
- You may combine brief descriptions with standard collection level
descriptions, such as the following:
- Out of scope: means the library does not collect in this subject.
- Minimal level: have a few good items.
- Basic level: have an up-to-date collection that will introduce
readers to the subject and indicate the varieties of information
- Study level: have a collection adequate to support undergraduate
instruction & sustained independent study. Includes material
at all appropriate reading levels.
- Research level: includes all the major published source material
required for dissertation research.
- If your library has used a conspectus methodology to assess the
collection, you may choose to use the assessment level codes (0,
1a, 1b, 2a, etc.) in this section. [If you would like information
about the conspectus method of assessment, please contact the State
- Future acquisition levels or goals: Again within each subject area
in section #1, indicate your needs and goals for that subject. How do
you intend to change the collection? What are your priorities? Within
what time frame? If the area needs weeding, or other specific action,
that may be a goal in addition to the acquisition goals for new titles.
(Examples: Weed "Science & Technology" collection by mid-1989.
Upgrade "Medicine" collection from minimal to basic level
by 1991. Work toward study level for "Local History" collection.
Priorities are: Local history, current fiction, and business (adult
collection); support for summer reading program (children's collection.)
- Special collections: Describe any subject areas or format collections
which the library maintains as a strong or unique collection. These
may be materials that are shelved separately or that do not circulate.
(Examples: rare books on the history of skiing; local history collection;
slide collection; vertical file collection.) [Note: Special collections
require extra care and investments of time and money to properly maintain
and develop. Consider carefully before starting a special collection.
If you have one already, consider if it truly fits with the library's
mission and collection goals. It may be more appropriate to integrate
it into the general collection or to donate it to another library.]
- Other considerations: Information on languages, formats and chronological
coverage may be noted within each appropriate subject area, if the general
statements in section B above are not sufficient for your library or
if a particular subject segment is an exception. If a collection assessment
has been done, information about the methods used, the personnel involved
and the dates and depth of the process should be noted.
D. POLICY IMPLEMENTATION, EVALUATION, AND REVISION
How, when and by whom will the policy be reviewed and updated? Try to
be specific. (Examples: "Every June by the librarian and trustees."
"Every two years, beginning in 1990, by the library-faculty committee.")
[NOTE: The requirements for Collection Management Policy approval have
been augmented. The new requirement states that the library's collection
management policy must be reviewed and updated (with the current board
chair/legal authority's and director/librarian's signatures) at least
once every three years and resubmitted in its entirety to the Montana
The last item on the policy should be the official record of action.
This should include dates and signatures of the significant parties concerned.
Chair, Board of Education Date
or whatever would constitute official action for a policy for your library.
The action to adopt the policy should be recorded in the minutes of an
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