Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Collection Development: What's In? What's Out?

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.


Fraulein A. Oclarit said...

I perfectly agree. Zarah. It is a sad reality, indeed, that so many donations have already been received and yet these never translated to the setting up of truly functional learning spaces or the development of programs that will maximize use of these resources.

In one engagement of ours, for instance, we were specifically told, "Nasaan na yung anim na container vans ng books na pinadadala namin sa region ninyo?" We could not answer because we have no answer. Really, where have all these books gone?

You are right. Libraries are active and dynamic spaces where real learning should take place. To build libraries to be such requires a lot of resources, intervention and commitment from those who claim to have stake in the future of our children -- DepEd, the LGUs, librarians, teachers, pupils, etc. We need to mobilize these forces to surface the advocacy for libraries as learning spaces. The librarians should be at the forefront of this advocacy because teachers have their own agenda to push. Then again, librarians are too few. Among the few, only a handful are able or are willing to commit service that will extend to others in the community. And so the advocacy for libraries as necessary infrastructure for learning have not figured much in the order of government's priorities.

I also agree that there has got to be intervention from trained and professional librarians who understand the science of information for development and the value of libraries/learning centers in the development of the individuals and the transformation of communities. This intervention is indispensable.

Zarah Grace C. Gagatiga said...

fraulein --

the least we could do is to teach non-librarians basic library operations. not an easy thing to do but, it's a short term solution. this doesn't mean that we, in the industry should stop thinking of long term solutions. what i find as the most challenging is the shaping of a library culture. it's different from reading culture yet intertwined.

oh, the woes of a country with a colonized past!

Fraulein A. Oclarit said...

Yep. Rest assured that we will try (no matter how tall the challenges are) to do that here, Zarah.

But we will keep the long-term solutions in our agenda, too.

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