Collection Development

Collection Development

Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2184-8.ch007
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Abstract

The collection is the heart of the library. Everything revolves around the library’s resources, be they hard copy, non-print, vertical file, or digital. Without that collection, the library’s staff is unable to provide quality service, answer questions, and teach patrons how to perform legal research. Because basic collection development theory applies to all libraries, this chapter concentrates on the major differences between standard collection development theory and practice and the theories and practices specific to law librarianship. Furthermore, differences between law library specifics and public law library needs are highlighted. A discussion of the various formats, their advantages and disadvantages could entail a full-length monograph; therefore, this discussion concentrates on the basics and then only as format determination impacts the public law library’s collection development plan. Several excellent collection development titles are listed in the Additional Reading section at the end of this chapter for those interested in a collection development refresher course. Further discussion of digital resources, including format advantages/disadvantages, electronic licenses, package or bundle sales, digital resources, and contracts in general appears in chapter 8. Collection maintenance, weeding, and discard procedures are reviewed in the Technical Services chapter.
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Collection Development Policies

While AALL’s County Public Law Library Standards (2009) and Standards for Appellate Court & State LawLibraries (AALL-SCCLL, 2006) encourage the establishment of written collection development policies, few public law libraries have written policies and procedures. This mirrors the overall lack of policies and procedures in the public law library community. A well-written collection development policy provides the guidance necessary to select those titles and formats best suited to the library’s needs and limitations, establish boundaries for the subject matter and formats most appropriate to the library’s collection, and keep the library’s collection management program on track and within budget. Such policies also support the librarian’s defense of collection development decisions should any challenges emerge.

One purpose of the collection development policy is to help the librarian determine the best use of the library’s space (physical and digital), the amount of time and money to allocate to specific aspects of the library’s collection, the types and formats best suited to meet patron needs, and the types of collection maintenance most practical for that specific library. It can also help minimize duplication while simultaneously encouraging the development of a mixed collection in which print, digital, online and free internet resources complement each other.

A major decision to be made before drafting a collection development policy is the style most appropriate to the library’s situation. Some libraries, such as the University of South Carolina’s Coleman Karesh Law Library, choose to create a single lengthy policy statement that addresses everything—current and future contingencies. An academic-public law library, the Coleman Karesh Law Library’s 35-page collection development policy sets out the library’s audience, purpose, principles, networking guidelines, jurisdiction, format acquisition guidelines, and additional miscellaneous criteria such as resource duplication, donations, government documents, and archival interests. Other libraries choose to draft a series of short, broadly-stated policy statements similar to the one in Table 1, which are then backed up with specific policy statements (See Table 2) for selection, donations, weeding, maintenance, and specific formats such as print, digital, online, internet and vertical file materials.

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