Collection Development for Beginners

That would be me – a collection development beginner.

This year I have taken on some collection development responsibilities in astronomy & physics, biology, chemistry, computer science, geology and math.  It’s a little daunting.

As a public undergraduate institution, we can’t buy everything, so it is important to choose wisely.

So many books, so little time
So many books, so little time

The prospect of building a good collection in areas I am not familiar with is a little scary.  Luckily for me, the faculty make most of the selections at my institution, giving me a bit of flexibility and time to learn.

I am currently developing some strategies to help me with this new responsibility.

  1. I am talking to faculty.  What kinds of projects are they asking students to do?  What kinds of materials do they find acceptable for assignments?  What kind of undergraduate research are they doing?
  2. I am working with our collection development librarian to analyze what we already have in our collection.  Apparently, we have about 100 books on FORTRAN, most from the early to mid 1980’s.  We only have about 10 on PHP.
  3. I am seeking the advice of experts.  I am seeking out book reviews in science and technology journals, and looking for high quality books that meet the needs of our curriculum.  This works best when publishers provide an RSS feed of articles that allows me to filter out the book reviews.  Using Yahoo! Pipes, I can create a single RSS feed for book reviews from scientific journals.  This is very much a work in progress.

I am hopeful that these strategies will allow me to build a collection that will be useful to our students and faculty, with up-to-date authoritative books on subjects our users care about.

We’ll see.