Collection Development – A Review of Some Related Literature

Published On July 10, 2019 | By Les Ouvriers De Jésus Christ | Uncategorized

Some major issues in collection development

Ifidon (1990) focused attention on thirteen university libraries in developing countries and identified their purpose or mission. Books, quick service collections and peripheral materials serve the course work of under graduates. Theses and dissertations, staff publication, audio-visual items for faculty specialists serve post-graduates and researchers. Light reading materials and newspapers enhance personal self development. Special collections also exist to meet the needs of the university in which they are situated. For example, the newspaper collection at Fourah Bay College Library, University of Sierra Leone contains invaluable grey materials which could not be available elsewhere. The newspapers in this collection are collected periodically and sent to the Bindery Department for hard covers. These are eventually shelved as books in the library and the newspaper collection could be traced as far back as 1954.

Bloomfield (1988) outlined what are considered as the major issues in collection development. The six identified issues include the identification of the purpose of mission either of the library itself or its parent body, the formulation of specific library strategies and policies for implementing the collection policy statement, the division of the budget and its consequent problems, monitoring and resource sharing. It is taken for granted that these issues include the assumption that libraries do not have sufficient funds. Formally, the University of Sierra Leone (which currently comprises Fourah Bay College, College of Medicine & Allied Health Sciences and the Institute of Public Administration & Management) budgeted 6% for its libraries but the economic situation from the late 1980s onwards forced this support to be converted to collegiate funding. Unfortunately, the administration often stresses that there are many other competing demands which frustrate the level of support libraries eventually receive.

Gyeszly (1990), Harrell (1990) and Smith (1990) compared and analyzed statistically the collection growth of the Sterling and C. Evans Library, Texas A and M University. Student enrolment, faculty size, materials budget, library funds and expenditures, acquisition of monographs and serials are discussed. Libraries which are actively engaged in collection development are in a dilemma to deal with increasing material prices at a time of decreasing state-supported appropriations. Collection development policies in each department must be carefully written and reviewed to address the needs of different departments. Unfortunately, several libraries do not have well written collection development policies. A corresponding effect is the growth of some subject areas in libraries at the expense of others.

Kelly (1991) focused attention on funding patterns in academic libraries and collection budget allocation methods. It is important to use various techniques in reductions in the budget. Forecasting models and allocation formulae previously used at Laurentian University are detailed. Collection development methods and allocation formulae that work very well in times of increasing budgets should be re-examined when budgets are cut or even remain the same. The author however failed to realize that in Third World University Libraries budgets hardly remain the same. The general trend is a gradual decline which frustrates growth of these libraries.

Collection development policies

Futas (1984) examined a survey conducted of academic and public libraries policies in relation to collection development. Ten academic library collection development policies as well as several selected portions of library policies like goals and objectives, selection, collection maintenance, and intellectual freedom are outlined. Finance is and has always been an issue of concern in the policies. The initial practice of having a policy on what percentage will be spent on what type of material gives place to generalizations and formulae. One implication is that policies do not have to change every year with a new budget. The results of the survey could be safely extended to other academic libraries in the developed nations.

Cabutey-Adodoadgi (1988) focused on the development of library collections in a developing country like Ghana and attributed the poor and unbalanced collections to the inability of libraries to draw up clear cut policies. The ideal however is to evolve a collection development policy that will be based on key factors like library budget, selectivity, user needs and evaluation. Library collections of developing countries, if anything, should reflect balance. Unfortunately, the situation falls far short of the expectations.

Lundu (1989) and Lungu (1989) noted that a fundamental problem in relation to acquisition of scientific literature in Zambia is the lack of clearly-cut collection development policies. Apart from the University of Zambia library, the rest of the libraries they evaluated lack clear-cut collection development policies. The need for collection development becomes paramount if acquired materials should be planned to be relevant to needs and cost effective in relation to limited financial resources available for the book industry in developing countries.

Approval plans

Leonhardt (1990) presented approval plans as one of the most written-about, talked about, misunderstood and oversold aspect of librarianship. The sad realization is that in spite of all the discussions, professional librarians have different views in relation to their name, value and administration. Although they have an inherent value in collection building, they are not a universal remedy for collection development and budget woes. Attempts by librarians to run broad subject-based approval plans without the necessary funds also defeat their purpose. The danger is the less there is to spend, as is the case in most developing countries, the more they leave selection to the vendor.

Likeness (1990) noted that reputable place approval plans have in libraries. Among advantages outlined are option of return, limiting books received from a group of publishers from notifications rather than actual delivery, and blocking out of series or publishers already on standing order. Foreign language materials approval plans are also discussed. While some librarians may not want faculty to be involved in the approval process, many who use such plans involve them in the evaluation of approval books.

Bostic (1991) stressed the important role or gathering plans, in which library materials are supplied according to a predetermined profile and unwanted documents returned, play in the procurement of documents for the library. Advantages include availability of bigger accounts, saving of staff time, a golden opportunity to examine what should be purchased, a sharpening of the library’s focus on its informational support mission, allowing existing collections to be strengthened and providing the means of collection evaluation and assessment. These notwithstanding, there are normally gaps in coverage, slow delivery, duplication of material, difficulty in claiming and loss of budget control.

Somers (1991) compared approval plan profiles of two academic libraries, University of Georgia and Tulane University. Although each had vastly different profiles and completely different reactions, they positively view the approval plan as a method of collection development. The individual library profile which determines what is to be sent is at the heart of each plan. In spite of the unique circumstances on each campus, the profile is not only defined wishes but also set expectations.

Technique of evaluating library collections

Ford (1988) noted that in spite of initial opposition to the Aikinson Report which states the time limit stock should be discarded and acquired, the grounds for opposition to some of the proposals are being whittled away. Three choices with regard to the criteria used for identifying materials to be weeded out include category, objective and judgment. Five main types of the so-called ‘objective’ criteria include usage, obsolescence, age, death and decay. Although most libraries undertake weeding as a result of special circumstances, some do weed systematically and others are about to embark on a systematic programme.

Jones (1988) observed that the management of stock should be clearly seen within the context of the overall management of the organization. Analysis of borrowers and their use of different categories of stock are very important in stock management.

Principles used to determine whether to retain a material include age, popularity, accuracy and relevance of information and sound professional judgment. This is not a proposal to take decision-making from librarians and to give it centrally-based specialists.

Matheson (1988) firmly believed that co-operation and resource sharing are forward steps in the face of higher publishing outputs and declining budgets for collection development. Concentrating on the background to co-operatives initiatives in collection development between major research libraries in Scotland, it is reasonable to conclude that acquisitions budgets fail to retain their purchasing power because of the lack of true co-operation among libraries.

Sizer (1988) noted that academic libraries are under tremendous pressure in demonstrating that they are providing value for money received from their parent bodies. Value for money is concerned with optimizing economy in the acquisition of resources, efficiency in their use and effectiveness in the achievement of objectives. Accountability is not only measures in financial terms. If a library develops an integrated process of planning, resource allocation, budgetary planning and control, it should aim at achieving value for money demonstrated within and outside the university.

Williams (1988) admitted that although much of a librarian’s training involves selection, acquisition, storage and exploitation of resources, the ultimate stage, stock relegation, receives relatively little attention. If approached positively, the weeding of materials could lead to an enhancement of user satisfaction as well as an ultimate increase in operational efficiency and effectiveness.

A brief analysis of the Slote method which a spine-mark technique to help individuals to identify materials for weeding is followed by an examination of reasons for justifying its use as an ideal approach of weeding library collections. The above notwithstanding, it is often a very difficult task to meaningfully select potential materials for weeding particularly so when the faculty fails to co-operate with the library in identifying them.

Woodward (1988) reported on the project sponsored by the British National Bibliography Research Fund aimed at designing models to evaluate different kinds of journal provision in the light of possibilities offered by the electronic transmission of journal articles. The Loughborough research clearly showed that a complete switch to electronic article transmission would be disadvantageous to both librarian and user. In brief, overall acquisition costs would be higher, funds would become complex as electronic article provision could not be financed in advance and the library user would suffer loss of quick and easy access of material.

Osburn (1990) identified practices that either impede or are likely to impede freedom of access to information. One such is censorship. Identification is one step to problem solving. Basic principles behind collection management – value and demand, diversity and balance, conservator and innovator are identified. As selection is the heartbeat of collection development, so are criteria for selection important to collection development policies. Allocation and budget justification are plans for action which, though related to policy are separate from it. The importance of collection evaluation is therefore seen in the revision of policy and of financial planning.

Taher (1990) and Kumar (1990) analyzed an American studies collection, taking into consideration growth and use patterns and highlighted the trends and prospects in collection development and evaluation of user needs in India. Two methods, descriptive and analytical are utilized to determine whether or not a collection is balanced. Such a study of collection development and evaluation is of tremendous importance to one’s understanding of existing needs to predict the future.

Tjoumas (1990) and Blake (1990) did comparative studies on collection evaluation which provided an inventory of possible techniques developed to assess library holdings. The two approaches which dominated were the impressionistic approach which is extremely subjective and the checklist method which requires a certified list of sources identifying titles essential to support an academic programme. Identifying collection evaluation techniques which are cost effective, easy to implement and accurate would provide librarians with valuable instruments to prepare both internal and external reports.

Wachel (1992) and Shreaves (1992) noted the strong alliance between acquisition and collection development to citing the Iowa libraries as examples. The re-organization at Iowa which shifted the administration of acquisitions from technical services to collection management was a very positive one since it reduced possibilities for conflict inherent in the old administrative structure. Co-operation is the watchword. The action of acquiring confirms a link with collection management and such a relationship is a potential linkage.


A role of collection development is not only to plan a stock acquisition programme but to make it relevant to immediate and future needs of the users. Born (1993) rightly observed that “a closer co-operation has developed between departments as librarians assess and evaluate library collections to ensure the current and future needs of students and scholars are met” (p.125). It is also evident that most University library collections in developing countries are under-developed as a result of the lack of clearly stated acquisition and collection development policies. The reverse is true of most university libraries in developed countries. Co-operation and resource sharing are two positive steps in the face of declining budgets.


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Source by Oliver Harding

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