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Special Interest Group Archive: Collection Development 2/17/2021

These are the notes from meetings dating back to 2015.

Collection Development SIG

The Collection Development Special Interest Group met on February 17, 2021. The meeting was held via Zoom, and was facilitated by Debra Bucher of Vassar College


While our discussion today was to focus on Collection Development, participants were certainly allowed the option to discuss other aspects of their library as well.

Where everyone is at with Collection Development?

  • C from an RCLS library, felt that there isn’t any real coordination among libraries in the system.  Everyone works alone without synchronizing orders within the system.
  • A from an MHLS library is very stressed because her library moved, and many books are still in storage.  The big move and the potential excitement of the new location were squashed due to the pandemic. She has Science Fiction and Young Adult materials that she must weed in the near future.
  • B says that he isn’t sure where he stands with a potential weeding project.  The libraries e-book purchase is through the roof. He used the analogy of buying print nonfiction books for a library – it’s like trying to feed a (finicky) cat.  Purchasing eBooks is more along the lines of feeding a barracuda.
  • M of SUNY says that they are currently not weeding the collection.  They even have donations that they aren’t able to add to the catalog.  Her eBook purchase is also very strong right now.
  • A of an MHLS library is purchasing plenty of non-fiction, large print and mystery books right now.  She has been weeding for months, and when the library is fully closed to the public (as it recently was), she can make great progress with that.  The library is certainly also increasing their eBook purchases, but is optimistic that when things return to “normal” that the print versions purchased in 2020 and 2021 will have been a good/lasting/necessary choice.
  • A of an MHLS library says that they are seeing a need for eBooks for teens.  For instance, this is a discreet way that they can read about topics their parents might not approve of.  
  • C of a RCLS library states that books about alcoholism, LGBTQI+ and sexual assault do not circulate well in her experience.  However, she states that libraries should continue to carry solid collections of these books, so they are available when and if patrons desire them. Again, patrons enjoy digital versions for privacy reasons.

Are staff were dealing with happy or unhappy budget situations?

  • M of SUNY stated that there is no general collection building going on right now.  They are, however, purchasing specific titles to support SUNY NP courses.  In the long run she fears they may have gaps in their collection.
  • C of a RCLS library states that they are operating with  a healthy budget.  However, she may be relocating to a smaller library where the budget is very tight.  Practices of buying multiple copies (of best sellers for instance) may not be possible at her new library.
  • C of MHLS library says they have a $30K operating budget (Carolyn, do we want to remove this number?)
  • B says that the MHLS used to buy centrally, now the individual libraries place their own respective orders.
  • T states that the Adriance Public Library (Poughkeepsie) used to keep the “very last” copy of a book in their basement.  She isn’t sure if they still have those since they renovated some years prior.  Other participants wondered if we could find out about status of the “last, last” books collection since it’s an interesting idea?

Do we inconvenience patrons when we don’t have the books that they need and we have to ILL copies?

  • C says she has seen coordinating on a very local level at Orangeburg Library (Rockland County) which is located in a hamlet.  There are several libraries in a very concentrated area, and many offered (or still offer) specialties.  One library might have Korean and Spanish Language Collections.  Another library might have gardening and cookbooks.  That way they could offer more items without EACH library purchasing the same things and this frees up space, too.
  • D mentioned that Yankee Peddler Bookshop allows ordering with pre-set critieral.  There is a shared approval plan between libraries.  (Does she mean with Vassar or with a previous place she worked?) This leads to the question of ownership vs. access to materials.
  • T mentioned that Public Libraries (and also colleges???) get State Aid which helps with coordinated collection development.   Central Reference Libraries get development funds.  State aid for 2021 is coming soon, it may not be 100% at previous levels.
  • M states that Vassar College gets monies for Africana Studies and Environmental Studies
  • M mentions that SUNY gets help with Black Studies and Music Therapy.

D mentions that these days people seem to love to stream versus picking up physical DVD’s and CD’s, Playaways, etc.

  • C noticed that Publishers Weekly stated that audiobooks on CD usage is way down while downloads are way up, which seconds what Debra mentioned.
  • C asks if any libraries lend out DVD players?
  • A mentioned that CD’s and DVD’s at libraries are often scratched which means that patrons may be leery to check them out the next time.  She has a few devoted patrons who will literally place holds for 30 movies at a time (which is the maximum allowed on their account)!!!

The participants discussed some ideas for the next meeting.  Some possibilities are Anti-racist Collection Development, How to Weed with Limited Staffing, etc.
Upcoming Reference SIG Meeting:  It will potentially be on May 5th (Wednesday) at 1:00 p.m.

Southeastern NY Library Resources Council
21 South Elting Corners Road | Highland, NY 12528
Phone: (845) 883-9065