Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
The development and management of both digital and physical collections are the essential functions of a library or archive. Information professionals accomplish this function and address the needs of their users by building collections and then making sure they are accessible and organized in a process that includes strategic planning, analysis, creative problem solving, and change management (Disher, 2015). While collections can take many shapes and contain a variety of materials, the lifecycle of selecting, evaluating, organizing, and preserving is the same, and all must stay in tune with the governing organization’s budgetary concerns.
It is important for any institution to develop a collection development statement, which is a policy document is designed to guide librarians’ decisions in developing and managing collections and to communicate the purpose of the collection to external stakeholders (Wong, 2018). Collection development policies vary from institution to institution, but they will typically deliver the following as noted by Wong (2018, p.138):
The lifecycle of collection development includes selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation.
The selection of the materials for a collection is a faceted process that involves an analysis of the community served and a consideration of the amount budgeted for collection development. Generally, the materials that are appropriate for the audience or community served are in too large a quantity to be affordable, so a selection process to identify those materials that are most appropriate are put into place (Disher, 2015). In this situation, the collection development policy is utilized to establish the selection criteria that typically includes “established need, author/publisher reputation, suitability for the intended audience, authoritativeness, scope, and price (Disher, 2015. p.249)” as well as publishing trends and emerging topics (Wong, 2018). The role of the librarian in this process is to act as the expert of the community’s needs and participate in the selection process to serve the needs of that community, and most libraries try to align the personal interests and expertise of the librarian with the domain they are asked to act as a selector for (Wong, 2018).
Evaluation is the process by which materials are selected for a collection. The primary criterion in the evaluation process is content (Wong, 2018). The role of the librarian is to weigh the needs and interests of the community as well as the goals of the library, both of which are established in the Collection Development Policies. The content needs to also be considered for its accuracy, reading level, and illustration quality as well as whether it will provide unique points of view and is free from bias and stereotypes (Wong, 2018). Additional considerations a librarian must include in their evaluation criteria are Authority, which weighs the reputation of the publisher and author, Format, which considers durability and available physical space, Cost, which might be impacted by format, and User Interface, which is specific to online resources (Wong, 2018).
Following the acquisition of materials, they must be organized to be made available to the community served by the collection. “At a minimum, physical items must be added to the library’s catalog and assigned a call number before being placed on the shelf” (Wong, 2018, p.143). Online materials need to be added to the search and discovery system and indexed by that system so that it will appear in search results across multiple systems. Accessibility concerns need to be addressed with the act of organization as well so that patrons with disabilities can discover and utilize these resources.
After an item has been organized in a collection, steps must be taken to ensure the continued access of that item, whether analog or digital. These activities that prevent the content from deteriorating allow long term access and usability of that content, making better use of the budget dollars that were invested on that item (Hirsh, 2015). Preservation activities can include transferring content from one container into another, transferring the content from one medium into another, making copies of the content, and creating an environment that allows content to be rendered in a hew environment (Skinner, 2015).
When reflecting on the activities involved in collection management and development, I consider the coursework from courses such as INFO256 Archives & Manuscripts, INFO 281 Digital Copyright, INFO284 Tools, Services, and Methodologies for Digital Curation, INFO284 Electronic Records, and INFO281 Metadata. In each of these courses, I learned how to select, evaluate, organize, and curate content for preservation, the foundational steps in the lifecycle of collection management. I demonstrate this ability in my current work when I assess a piece of content and its intended audience and publish it in such a way that it is discoverable and consumable by that audience.
I selected this project as evidence of collection management because this shows my ability to select content based on different criteria, organize it in a way that makes it discoverable, and preserve it through emulation using the Archive-It site. In this group project, we selected the topic of International Space Agencies with Billion+ Dollar Budgets. We then reached out to each of those agencies for permission to capture their web content in the Archive-It tool. A teammate bore the responsibility of submitting the sites to the Archive-It tool, and my role in the group was to identify and enter the metadata elements for each site in the collection as well as the collection itself, including description, subject, creator, format, and language information. These elements essentially act as the call number in this online environment, allowing the user to find the emulated, archived content.
I am submitting this assignment as evidence of this competency because in this assignment I explore the management trends and techniques for electronic records, a necessary skill in the lifecycle of collection management. This assignment includes a literature review that examines the historical trends related to records management including the best practices of the digital curation lifecycle. Also discussed is the subjectivity and complexity of the retention schedule that must be addressed in the organization and preservation stages of the collection management lifecycle.
I am submitting this assignment as evidence of my collection management competency as it highlights my ability to evaluate content based on different criteria. In this assignment, we were given different titles that span different types of content and media and were asked to perform an assessment to determine if the works were copyrighted or were in the public domain. With each, I researched and performed an exhaustive review to be sure that the copyright information was verified to be correct. This skill can be directly applied to content evaluations in collection development.
In my coursework, I learned the intricacies and strategies required to select content based on a topic or community, evaluate that content based on different criteria, organize that content to make it discoverable and consumable, and preserve that content using different tools and methods until it became time for that content to be deselected. I can apply this foundational knowledge in a traditional library environment, but also in a corporate environment where collections might contain a single domain of knowledge or be diverse collections for different teams and stakeholders. Regardless of the community a collection serves, the steps taken in collection development and management remain the same.
Disher, W. T. (2015). Managing Collections. In S. Hirsh (Ed.), Information Services today: An introduction. Rowman & Littlefield.
Hirsh, S. (2015). Information Services today: An introduction. Rowman & Littlefield.
Skinner, C. (2015). Analog and Digital Curation. In S. Hirsh (Ed.), Information Services today: An introduction. Rowman & Littlefield.
Wong, M. A. (2018). Developing and managing library collections. In K. Haycock & M.-J. Romaniuk (Eds.), The portable MLIS: insights from the experts (Second edition). Libraries Unlimited, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC.