Every institutional repository, whether for a school or an organization, must develop collections that supports the information needs of the facility and its patrons. The process of selecting resources for acquisition involves many steps from appraisal to circulation.
VC Knoxville – Fiction Collection Development
In 2014, a subject committee from our various campuses within our proprietary institution was formed to develop a core fiction list from which all of the affiliated campuses could use in developing their individual fiction collections. This list would form the blueprint for Knoxville’s current collection. The committee included six librarians and myself, the only library assistant, to establish a core list that would help librarians select fiction material that covered a wide range of genres. From the established Fiction Core List, my Knoxville campus used the list to create our personal fiction collection.
The primary goal of the VC Knoxville Fiction Collection was to address the needs of our students by providing recreational resources. Using the campus wide Fiction Core List and suggestions provided from the students during their Library Week activities, a list of books were selected for acquisition. The selection of these materials were based on: (1) the quality of the individual works with relation to the needs and interests of the students; (2) the individual quality of works in comparison to other related works in the field; (3) its contribution to the promotion of other collections in the library. Great care was taken to ensure that a wide variety of genres were represented in order to best reach the needs of our varying student interests.
Given my undergraduate background in literature, my supervisor, the librarian, allowed me to spearhead the appraisal and acquisition of works for our collection. I focused my selection process by using the three aforementioned targets in guiding appraisal. It was important for me not only select books that would be of interest to my students, but select books that would be intellectually stimulating and promote continuous reading. At the same time, I wanted to introduce, or reintroduce, classic works that my students may not have considered as being of interest to them. After analyzing the Reaping List from the Library Week activities, I selected classic novels that paralleled well with the popular genres of books selected by the students.
Although I have not taken a formal class on collection development, I received direct guidance by my supervisor and was able to turn to the general course instruction and readings from INSC 510 – Information Environment class for guidance. This course did not specifically speak to collection development, but Information Environment increased my understanding of how important my role as an information professional is in fostering creativity and thought in the minds of my patrons. One specific set of principles that I kept in the back of my mind during selection process was S. R. Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Librarianship (Bawden & Robinson, 2012) which state that:
- Books are for use
- Every reader his book
- Every book its reader
- Save the time of the reader
- The library is a growing organism
Number 5 was so true in every meaning of the word for my library. We added over one hundred works to our library circulation with the addition of our fiction collection. Each book was chosen with a direct reason in mind and a purpose to fulfill. For me, this collection was truly special because I was able to find a connection with my patrons in ways that many at our school never thought possible. They believed that because our students were adult learners that came from difficult backgrounds, they would not be interested in reading, even for recreational purposes. However, we proved them all wrong. With the addition of the fiction collection, circulation has increased by nearly 65% which has helped to also promote to other resources the library has to offer as well as expand the reading palette of our patrons.
Application to My Future Career
Through my hands-on experience in developing a collection from scratch, I have clear understanding of all planning and decision-making that goes into the acquisition of new materials. This unique experience equipped with knowledge to build a collection that reflects the direct needs of my patrons.
In our field, you have to put your art and soul into everything that you do. You have to become advocate not only for the library, but for you patron and the best way to connect with our patrons is to forge the bond of reading.
Student engagement is key in an academic setting and the driving force behind the success or failure a library. Our fiction collection was able to build the rapport with the students and helped to engage creative and critical thinking skills gained from the recreational readings options from which they can then apply to their studies.
Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. 2012. Introduction to information science. Chicago, IL: Neal-Schuman