New Library Directors Handbook

Selecting Items for the Collection

As mentioned earlier, your library should have a collection development policy that will guide your decisions. There are many things to consider when choosing items for the library. In this section, we will also take a look at acquisitions.

The selection process

Publishers will send you many catalogs advertising their books. The problem with this is that the intent is to sell the books, not give you a neutral viewpoint about the item's value. Because of this, many libraries rely on reviews from magazines such as BooklistLibrary Journal, and Publishers Weekly. For local authors, reviews may not be possible. In that case, you may want to visit local bookstores or develop a relationship with Montana publishers to keep abreast of new Montana information.

Questions to ask during the selection process

  • Does this material fit into the collection development policy? - This is where a quality collection development policy can be so helpful. It gives you an idea of what is important for your collection.
  • Is this likely to be asked for by anyone in my community? - The community should use library collections.
  • Does the review indicate that this is a high quality item? - Despite what people may think, you don't have time to read every item. Reviews can help you determine the quality of an item. One thing to keep in mind is that some items will be popular with your community no matter what the review says.
  • Even though Danielle Steel's latest book may not get the best review, you still want to purchase it.
  • Does the potential use of the material justify the cost? - A beautiful, but extremely expensive book may be tempting. Before you buy it ask yourself if anyone in your community will actually use it.
  • Is this an appropriate format for this information? - Should you buy a book about how to swim or would a video be better? Think about how people learn when deciding what to buy. Also think about how quickly the material may be outdated. Instead of buying that computer handbook, maybe you should invest in an online collection that updates computer information regularly.
  • In order to use this material, will we need new equipment? - Think of this in terms of electronic resources. If you purchase some electronic resources, will you need to purchase a new, faster computer to access those resources?