I am always pleased to hear news of donors giving books to libraries; of NGO's who support library development; of projects and initiatives by private and government agencies that develop libraries, its collection and its physical space. Once my pleasure simmered down, I think of continuity and sustainability for the new or renovated library. Setting up a room full of books is one thing. Building a learning center is another.
Ordinary folks are so eager to advocate reading. Build a library. Create space for reading. Acquire books. And then, what? One reading campaign I know donated books to a public school in the rural area. Less than a year after, the books were nowhere to be found. The library looked like a bodega! There is nothing wrong with donating books and advocating books and libraries to establish a reading culture. The lack of a trained professional librarian aggravates the situation.
If you build it they will come, so they say. But the library is not your local mall.
There are aspects of library services and operations that, like plants, need pruning and tending. From collection development to readers services; information management to creating and communicating new knowledge a trained professional librarian is necessary for the library to grow.
As much as being a cultural heritage, a library is both a system and a science. Let's take one core program of the library: collection development.
There is a science to library collection development. Since the blog is a school library blog, the focus of collection development is geared to school libraries.
Big school. Small school. Traditional school. Progressive school. Public school. Private school. There exist in every school a library. Whatever the size of the collection is, it is essential to begin with an assessment and an evaluation of the existing collection. To do this, it would require the following: 1) a set of school library standards that identifies the requirements of a robust collection; 2) the school's vision, mission and goals; 3)records pertinent to collection development and; 4) a knowledge of the demographics. It would help if there exist, on record, a set policy and procedures for collection development. If there is none, a written document, in black and white, as they say, must be made.
For school library standards, the DepEd Standards for School Libraries c. 1998 is still a good document to use. The Board for Librarians' standard for school library operations, upgraded from the DepEd Order, is another. And then there's the American Library Association standards and the IFLA-UNESCO School Library Guidelines. I am partial to the later because it was contextualize for school libraries in developing countries. The librarian working on collection development may use any of these instruments.
As for the rest, the school and the library must have these documents ready and on hand. In my next post, I'll be writing procedures to assessing and evaluating a school library's collection.