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Developing an Outstanding Core Collection: A Guide for Libraries

Alabaster, Carol

American Library Association
Published:January 1, 2002

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Description: From Library Journal
Alabaster served as the collection development coordinator of the Phoenix Public Library for more than a decade. Until then, the library, in a city that was one of the fastest growing in the country, had a directionless, undefined collection that needed structured development. Under Alabaster's guidance, the library developed policies for and added core collections to the main library and every branch to bring them up to today's standards. Her guide is intended to help the staff of large library systems institute policies and procedures for developing basic library collections. Chapters cover developing a core policy statement; establishing the basics of a core selection with attention to reviewing tools, award winners, bibliographies, and community involvement; and budgeting and methodology of acquisitions, along with other details of purchasing. Finally, the author includes sample core lists of materials. While Alabaster's purpose in writing this guide is worthy, the result is disappointing. In her analysis of reviewing tools, she shows a complete lack of understanding of this magazine's reviews: "The librarian reviewers for Library Journal, though well meaning, are unpaid, their evaluations can be uneven. Perhaps because librarians so value the written word and books in general, it is rare to find a negative LJ review." Well, this reviewer rolled her eyes in disbelief when she read this sweeping statement. Having reviewed for LJ for many years, she recalls writing a fair number of those "rare negative reviews." In addition, the process of developing a core collection in other libraries may be different from what Alabaster's library experienced and the book's narrow focus will limit its usefulness. Other guides that contain better general direction for all libraries include William Katz's Collection Development: The Selection of Materials for Libraries (1980), Kay Ann Cassell and Elizabeth Futas's Developing Public Library Collections, Policies and Procedures (Neal-Schuman, 1991), and Collection Development Policies and Procedures, 3d ed., edited by Elizabeth Futas (Professional Media, LJ 3/15/95). Marie Bruni, Huntington Memorial Lib., Oneonta, NY
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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