Academic Curriculum Collections in North America: A Comparative Survey

Academic Curriculum Collections in North America: A Comparative Survey

Sara Holder (McGill University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1897-8.ch024
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Casual observance of curriculum collections in academic institutions will show many similarities, but also many unique aspects and regional trends. What is the reason for these differences? Where can a new librarian looking to establish best practices for his or her own collection find benchmarks for comparison? In order to answer these and other questions, the author collected survey responses from librarians across North America who have responsibilities for the management of a curriculum collection. This chapter will present the results of the survey and use the data to draw conclusions about the connections that exist between collecting practice and the institutional environment in which the collection is located. Challenges and issues involved in collecting curriculum materials will be explored and future research directions suggested.
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As the author alluded to in the Introduction, informal investigation of curriculum collections across North America indicates that there is much diversity in focus and collection strength from place to place. That being said, there is much commonality in the types of materials that are collected. This seems to hold true historically as well. One of the earliest recognized collections of curriculum materials created in support of a teacher education program dates to 1898 at Colorado State Normal School (now the University of Northern Colorado). The collection included textbooks (both current and historical), theoretical and practical guides for teaching, equipment, furniture, games, and toys (Roberts, 1990). Though this is a very early example, by the 1930's curriculum collections were becoming much more prevalent (Kohrman, 2012). In the ensuing years there have been a number of publications both offering advice on collecting curriculum materials to support teacher education programs and surveying the actual practices of curriculum materials selectors. In 2009 the ACRL approved the Guidelines for Curriculum Materials Centers, which state that curriculum collections should include: “textbooks, curriculum guides, children's literature, professional literature, reference materials, education periodicals, media materials, educational tests and measures, and digital content” (Association of College & Research Libraries, 2009b, Collection Categories section, para. 1). Are these recommendations being followed?

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