The selection process
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The Selection Process. Or…getting the right material, at the right time, for the right price!. Common steps in the selection process. Identify collection needs (subjects & formats) Determine available dollars & allocate for subjects & formats

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The Selection Process

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The Selection Process

Or…getting the right material, at the right time, for the right price!


Common steps in the selection process

  • Identify collection needs (subjects & formats)

  • Determine available dollars & allocate for subjects & formats

  • Develop a plan to identify possible materials (find the right selection tools)

  • Conduct the search using the tools

  • Assess the value & suitability of the possible materials

  • Make the selection & begin the acquisitions process


Collection process in a public library system

  • Catawba County Library System

    • Main Library in Newton – the county seat and 6 other community branches

  • Collection development team

    • Headed by a Collection Development Librarian

    • Adult fiction team = 1 librarian assisted by 1 library services specialist

    • Adult nonfiction team = 4 librarians assisted by 1 associate librarian (assigned Dewey areas)

    • Juvenile and Teen collections = 2 librarians

    • Audiovisual team = 2 library services specialists


Team duties

  • Ongoing selection – browsing for new materials and purchasing appropriate titles

  • Collection development for each branch

    • Rotate focus on 7 branches over 3 years

    • During focus period:

      • Assess the current collections onsite & electronically through system reports

      • Meet and talk with staff

      • Develop a plan

      • Weed outdated and worn materials

      • Purchase according to plan


1) Identify collection needs (subjects and formats)

  • Each team meets at the branch together:

    • Branch manager presents a report on the community and their assessment of current needs and trends

    • Team has studied/will continue to study reports of circulation statistics for their areas of responsibility

    • Team works in stacks to survey condition of materials (may require multiple visits)

    • Team uses assessment sheets created by collection development librarian to create a plan


2) Determine available dollars & allocate for subjects & formats

  • Collection development librarian works with library director to allocate resources based on:

    • % of active patrons

    • Which branches have focus for year

    • Within that: split about 1/3 for ANF, AF & Youth

    • Off the top of each branch comes: AY, Continuations, Lease plan, Standing orders, & B & T costs for mylar jackets, outsourced cataloging, etc.

    • The collection development librarian says “it’s a wonder there’s anything left for the selectors to spend!”


3) Develop a plan to identify possible materials

  • The plan is in place & dollars are ready to be spent.

    • B & T is our primary vendor – NC public library consortium – rough average of 40% discount.

    • Use Amazon.com due to a corporate discount & free shipping.

    • Other vendors as necessary.

    • We gather our tools and get to work!


4) Conduct the searchusing the tools

  • Our toolbox includes:

    • Journal reviews:

      • Library Journal

      • School Library Journal

      • Booklist

      • Horn Book

      • Publisher’s Weekly

    • “Best of” lists put out by professional associations such as ALA

    • Publisher catalogs (such as Salem Press for literary resources)

    • Core lists (such as Public Library Catalog)


5) Assess the value & suitability of the possible materials

  • Good selection is both a science & an art

    • Science because you develop a process that is systematic & comprehensive

    • Art because over time you gain experience with:

      • Your patrons & their user patterns

      • Knowledge of reputable publishers and authors

  • You begin to develop a “gut feeling” about what will work and what will not.

  • Be willing to TRUST that “gut feeling” as you build experience.

  • Our teams take several months to purchase according to the plans that we developed.


6) Make the selection & begin the acquisitions process.

  • The bulk of our selections are purchased through B & T.

    • Create “carts” in B & T and send them through our team leader to be ordered.

    • Keep our expenditures in Excel spreadsheets to monitor our spending.

    • Our accounting specialist will help us to order materials from other vendors.

    • Sit back and wait for that “Christmas” feeling as the new books roll in!


Class Exercise

How do you manage?


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