rusq: Vol. 51 Issue 1: p. 86
Sources: Making a Collection Count: A Holistic Approach to Library Collection Management
Debora Richey

Debora Richey, Research Librarian, California State University, Fullerton, California

Part of the Chandos Information Professional Series aimed at the busy information professional, Making a Collection Count focuses on basic collection management and procedures in a holistic environment. Similar to other works in the Chandos series, it is designed to provide easy-to-read and practical coverage of a topic of interest to librarians. Rather than focusing upon one narrow or deep theoretical concept of collection management, the authors (both public librarians in Michigan) emphasize how various areas of library service—staff, collection, facilities, and technology—contribute to the overall development of a high-quality collection and library. The authors contend that effective management and evaluation of the smaller components of collection management will lead to meaningful improvement of all library services and settings, while also reducing costs and waste.

The book is divided into eight chapters, with the first two devoted to each stage of a collection’s life cycle—selection, acquisition, processing, shelving, circulation, and weeding—and how to analyze and gather data at each step of the cycle. Analysis tools such as audits, statistics, and physical inventories are discussed in separate chapters, along with the connection between collection management and programming, signage, and displays. The authors discuss how vision and mission statements and collection management policies provide direction for a collection and also offer practical advice on how to maintain a viable collection despite budgetary restraints, the increased cost of new materials, and demand for new and different types of media. No one function or principle is discussed in great depth, with the text moving quickly from one topic to another, showing how all aspects of a library are somehow integrated with collection management. The final chapter, “Everything is Connected,” shows how holistic library service contributes not only to a quality collection but to the quality of service in every area of the library. Most of the chapters include a list of relevant sources that the reader can consult for more information. The appendixes include an example of a public library collection management policy and a brief strategic guide, geared toward small libraries, on how to negotiate with vendors. Black and white illustrations and photographs are scattered through the book, but add little to the text.

More about collection management than development, the book is an effective reminder that the main purpose of libraries—“making information available for someone to use”—is inextricably tied to every other function within a library (xv). Hibner and Kelly do a good job of discussing and recommending processes and procedures that librarians and library staff can follow to ensure that the services they provide to a community remain focused and vital. The book is an accessible and succinct introduction to the entire public library collection management process from beginning to end.

Although the holistic approach to collection management might appear new and different to novice practitioners, there is little here for experienced or university librarians, most of whom would be familiar with the workflow procedures described. The book is better suited to public librarians interested in examining collection management strategies in their libraries and to professionals new to library/information studies. It would also be particularly helpful for MLIS students, as it provides a solid basis for understanding the core processes and problems of collection management that libraries face today.

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