It is with great relief that I have finished one of my major projects for the semester, a collection development project for children’s literature. The assignment was to develop a part of a library’s non-fiction collection (think folktales, biographies, factual science books, history books, etc).
My particular area of focus was the Dewey 954-958.1 section, which in non-librarian speak, encompasses the history of Asia. Only, Dewey is a little imprecise as to what constitutes Asia, so the Arabian Peninsula doesn’t count, but Cyprus does. Russia is its own entity, but Siberia gets lumped into Asia. Japan, Korea, China, and Southeast/East Asia have their own designations within the 900s, so my scope covered Afghanistan, the South Asian subcontinent, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, and Lebanon.
My goals in developing this part of the collection had two parts to it. First, the librarian I worked with wanted to have more books that represented India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, where many of her students come from. The second part came from me. As a firm believer in being informed about the world, I felt it important to include quality books on Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq because of the prominent role these countries play in US foreign policy. Yeah, these are elementary and middle school students, but it’s never too early to start educating them about far-off lands.
So, what does a collection development project entail? In this instance, three steps.
1. Writing up a profile of my school and its population, and identifying the collection development goals. This is the purely academic portion of the project.
2. Evaluating the current collection. We had to write an annotated bibliography, which usually wouldn’t happen, but the purpose was to record our thoughts. Each book was evaluated for currency (how long ago was it published?), accuracy, bias, relevance (does it meet the needs of the collection? Is it serving that purpose?), circulation statistics (if a book was last checked out in 2001, chances are, you should get rid of it), and usefulness. We then had to determine whether we would weed, retain, or update each book.
3. Additions to the collection, or deciding what books to purchase. This part was actually really interesting because a lot of the time as a librarian, you’re flying blind, so to speak. It’s simply not possible to examine, in person, each book you want to purchase. So what does a librarian do? They rely upon reviews, catalogs, and “best of” lists to see what other qualified people have had to say about a particular book. You read what they have to say, consider how positive or not the review is, and make your judgments accordingly. In the real world, you wouldn’t write down the justifications, and you would have the very real constraints of a budget, but for the purposes of this assignment, we had to justify our choices with supported reviews and had no budget.
All in all, I feel really good about my final product, and I hope the librarian I’m working with finds it useful as well. Out of the 15 books we had to choose, I’d say 11 of them were really great choices, and I hope that she’s able to purchase at least some of them.
Tomorrow marks the start of a well-needed Thanksgiving break, and in between turkey and pie, I have a good deal of work to get done. On my plate for the rest of the semester:
1. Literary critique for Children’s Literature
2. 3-class unit lesson plan for Curriculum
3. American Civics Lesson Plan for Curriculum
4. History Frameworks response paper for Curriculum
5. Annotated bibliography for Reference
6. Non-Print Media Log for Children’s Literature
7. Reader’s Theater presentation for Children’s Literature (we will be performing the classic work Is Your Mama a Llama?)
Wish me luck, it’s going to be a long haul to December 9th.