Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The "We" in Collection Development

Previously, I posted There's No "I" in Collection Development, about checking personal biases as I'm selecting books for our community.

It turns out that there might not be an "I" in collection development, but there certainly should be a WE. Particularly if your library has centralized selection (i.e. one person or one department selecting materials for the entire library or system). Who are your collection development partners?

(Image shows a cat standing on a dog's back to reach the refrigerator water dispenser with the words "Teamwork makes the dream work.")


My front-line colleagues are an important partnership. They're the ones at the circulation desk and shelving the books and talking to patrons every day. They're the ones that know what new series is popular with elementary school kids, what title everyone's asking for because it was mentioned on a local radio station, what genres our large print readers are seeking. Make it as easy as possible for them to make suggestions for purchase.

I created a Google form that is bookmarked on every public service desk computer and I also emailed the URL to every staff member so they could bookmark it for themselves if they wanted to. Staff can pass along patron requests for purchase, suggest general subjects we need more materials on, or request particular titles they think would be a good fit for our library.

I also walk around.

I admit, sometimes it's nice to spend a day in my office at my desk working quietly on book things. But I'm doing my library a disservice if that's all I do. When I walk around, I can see changes that are happening to our physical shelves. I talk to my colleagues and ask them what's working and what's not. How are things going? Is there anything they need that I can help with?


My patrons are an important partnership. They're the ones who can best tell me what they're looking for and I need to listen to them. Staff can pass along their requests for purchase (and soon we'll have a place where patrons can make their requests directly - we're working on this bit). I can also listen to them by checking the holds lists and running circulation reports.

I also walk around.

I can listen to our patrons by perusing the shelving carts to see what's been recently checked out or by scanning the stacks to see what's been so loved that it's falling apart. I can jump on to a circulation desk to help patrons and engage with them. Have they read the first book by this author they're checking out? What did they think? How did they hear about this book?

It was by helping staff the circulation desk that I learned that some of my patrons get book recommendations from local blogger and podcaster Modern Mrs. Darcy, so you can be sure I added her blog to my feed and read it regularly.


I get so much help from outside sources - a post about resources I have discovered for collection development is coming soon. But vendors make up another important partnership for me as I step into this collection development role. As with stepping into any new role, I have not been afraid to ask questions. I've tried to contact all the vendors I'm now working with and ask for training or introduce myself. And many of them provide valuable help in keeping me aware of what's hot and new and what will be useful for my collection.

Like I said, look for a resource post coming soon (and probably many more in the future... I'm still new at this!). But don't overlook vendor reps as valuable partners. Use them!

Who are your partners in collection development?