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ETL 503 Module 5 Evaluating Collections

In planning and conducting a collection evaluation exercise, Kennedy (2006, pp. 93-102) outlined 6 key steps to take in order to effectively assess/evaluate a library’s collection. The 6 steps are:

  1. what is the purpose and objectives
  2. Review previous research
  3. select data to be collected and methodology (collection-centred vs client-centred methods)
  4. select population sample (involve use of statistical techniques to ascertain sample-no of items in the collection or no of users)
  5. Collect and analyse data
  6. Facilitate replication-procedures to be documented so that it can facilitate future replication.

Methodologies:
1) COLLECTION-CENTRED METHOD

    1. List-checking
    2. Analysing citations
    3. Applying collection standards
    4. Seeking expert opinion

2) CLIENT-CENTERED METHOD

    1. Studying circulation
    2. Studying ‘in-house’ use
    3. Studying availability and accessibility
    4. Surveying users regarding their experience of the collection
3) COLLECTION MAPPING
is a popular evaluation method which provides a visual representation of the strengths and weaknesses of the library collection. Mapping could either be done for the entire collection or a specific section tied to the curriculum. For a particular section of the collection, the maps are known as emphasis maps or mini-maps (Bishop, 2007).

Evaluating Digital Collection
Relatively little has been written on this topic of how digital collection is serving the needs of users.

Activity Question
Given the time, priorities and staffing constraints in most school libraries, instead of choosing the most appropriate which is usually more extensive and laborious collection evaluation method, i am more inclined to select a simply, hybrid method with limited but useful outcomes. For my middle school library, the main focus of collection evaluation would to to ascertain how well the collection meets the needs of my students and if it meets the teaching-learning context (Hughes-Hassell & Mancall, 2005, p.40). To achieve the objective, i would consider using a combination of subjective(qualitative) Client-Centred method and Collection Mapping (of new but key programmes).

Client-centred Method strategies:
1) User-Opinion Surveys- through both questionnaires and interviews. List of suggested questions by Hughes-Hassell and Mancall  (2005, p.40) are most apt. Examples:

  •  How well do the items support the learning styles of my gifted learners (visual, auditory, bodily-kinesthetic?)
  • How well do the items support the reading levels of my students?
  • How well do the items reflect the ethnic diversity of my community?

2) Circulation Studies as well as ‘In-House’ Use Studies (Bishop, 2007) could be undertaken with reports churned out from the library automation software.

3) If time permits, a collection mapping of a specific area based on new curriculum and enrichment programmes could be undertaken to ensure adequate resources to support the learners and curriculum

“WEEDING”

There are many recommended useful websites for the task of weeding but the site i find to be of greatest assistance and relevance is ‘The School Library Media Specialist’ website by Lamb, Annette and Johnson, Larry 2005. http://eduscapes.com/sms/access/weeding.html

Reasons being:

  1. Comprehensive with many topical and useful links for further exploration eg links to CREW Method as well as pertinent powerpoint slides.
  2. User-friendly, interesting use of visuals and inclusion of book jacket of examples of books that shd be deselected.
  3. Simple language makes interesting and light reading.

Another useful website for the topic of weeding(deselection) is ‘Secret library busines-part 2 by Renate Beilharz that appeared in Connections SCIS, Issue 63, Term 4 (2007).  http://www2.curriculum.edu.au/scis/connections/issue_63/secret_library_business__part_2.html.  The article is a good summary of key points raised by the books listed below:

Baumbach, Donna J and Linda L Miller 2006, Less is More: A practical guide to weeding school library collections, American Library Association, Chicago.

Johnson, Doug 2003, Weed! [Accessed 15 August 2007]
http://www.doug-johnson.com/dougwri/weed.html

Kennedy, John 2006, Collection Management: A concise introduction, Centre for Information Studies, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, NSW.

Lamb, Annette and Johnson, Larry 2005, Collection Maintenance and Weeding [Accessed 15 August 2007]
http://eduscapes.com/sms/access/weeding.html

Personally, I do not think the use of the term ‘weeding’ denigrates the task. In fact, it clearly explains simply and in ordinary layman term the task of removing unwanted items in the library (‘garden’). The distinction being the case of the library being controllable while that of the garden concept is one which is beyond the control of the gardener/owner. There will be lesser need to weed or deselect, if the library resources had been more accurately developed based on the information and curricular needs of the school. Hence, the term ‘deselect’ is one which i feel i a more professional and appropriate use as it is the direct reverse of ‘selection’ process. If there is no selection then there wld not be any ‘deselection’!

Deselection is just as important a process as selection as a good and well resourced library must be one that contains accurate, relevant and current resources that meets the curriculum and recreational needs of the students and the teaching faculty of the school.

For a school library collection, the order of deselection criteria is listed below. As an advocate of Hughes-Hassell and Mancall (2005, p.33) selection criteria, i wld put ‘NO LONGER MEETING NEEDS OF CURRICULUM’ as top criteria over and above appearance or space constraints.

Order of deselection criteria:

  1. No longer meeting the information and curriculum needs of the school
  2. Age
  3. Physical Condition-Aesthetics
  4. Freeing up space
  5. Currency of content
  6. Duplication
  7. Bias
  8. Obsolete Formats