JERVIS PUBLIC LIBRARY
COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT POLICY
INTRODUCTION AND DESCRIPTION
Rome, New York, is a small upstate city of 40,979 residents.
The city is situated in the heart of Oneida County, which is located in the
central part of the state. A major employer in the area is the U.S. Air Force
Research Laboratory located at the east edge of the city. Other major employers
are Rome Strip Steel, Varflex, Revere, the New York State Department of Corrections,
and various medical services. At the present time the community is predominantly
middle class and with traditional values. To a lesser degree there are other
population patterns. Jervis Library, the public library of Rome, is one of the
most popular institutions in the community. It is the busiest library in Oneida
County, attracting not only residents of Rome but also residents of outlying
communities. Average daily patron traffic is over 700.
MISSION AND GOALS
Access to information and ideas is essential for citizens living
in today's world. The general public requires an institution which will meet
its informational needs on an equal and impartial basis. Jervis Public Library
performs this function for the people of Rome and surrounding communities. The
library develops its collection in ways which will meet the informational needs
of the population it serves.
The library's goals are as follows:
- Meet the informational needs of all components of the community
to the best of the library's ability and educate patrons into new needs and
- Recognize the importance of recreation in a full life by
providing entertainment materials of both popular interest and lasting value
to supply quality, meaningful recreation and to promote intellectual growth.
- Supplement formal education and assist in individually-motivated
- Help people become informed, responsible citizens of their
community and country by providing materials on current issues.
- Help people in matters relating to their employment, such
as employment seeking skills and sharpening their skills relating to current
- Actively pursue automation/computer and electronic resources
as outlined in the library's Long Range Plan.
In order to meet these goals, the library collects materials
with the following objectives in mind:
- Identifying needs and interests of the public, including
- Purchasing materials to meet these needs in a timely manner.
PURPOSE OF THE POLICY
The purpose of the policy is to make clear to both the public
and the library staff the manner in which the library develops its collection.
This includes specifying criteria for choosing materials and designating responsibility
in making purchasing decisions. These principles are presented in the light
of the library's function in its particular community and the library's Mission
CRITERIA FOR SELECTION
In order to meet its goals, the library must
set forth criteria for selecting materials. These basic criteria are: interest,
demand, value, need in the collection, format, cost, and availability. Different
guidelines are used for selecting non-fiction and fiction. The main principles
used here are as follows:
- Interest demonstrated or anticipated
- Importance to the community
- Accuracy, objectivity, clarity, and general quality, including
authority of author
- Level of access
- Need with respect to books on the same subject already owned
- Cost with respect to the library's budget and particular
importance of the item
- Likely demand; demonstrated or anticipated interest in works
by a certain author or in a certain type of fiction
- Appeal and creativity
- Quality; including style, characterization, literary merit
- Cost with respect to the library's budget and particular
need for the item
These factors are usually brought to librarians' attention through
reviews, but can come from other sources, such as word of mouth or citation
in the media.
Slightly different criteria govern the purchase of reference
non-fiction than those governing the purchase of circulating non-fiction. In
reference, recentness and comprehensiveness are especially important factors;
for circulating non-fiction, demand and appeal can be important. Much circulating
non-fiction, however, is purchased with a view toward using it for reference
and information rather than recreational reading purposes alone. Similarly,
popular appeal can be important in choosing some of the non-circulating reference
books, especially in areas like sports or popular music.
The library exists to minister to all the different populations
and viewpoints of the city. The preponderance of materials tends to reflect
majority trends in the community, because those trends represent the majority
of those who use the library. Budgetary restraints do not allow for emphasizing
all possible tastes equally. Suitable coverage of non-majority tastes and viewpoints
is earnestly maintained.
Materials which are too specialized and technical for the layman
are rarely chosen. These materials are normally left to academic or special
libraries. However, exceptions to this may occur, especially in fields that
are by definition technical, such as computers or electronics, which are increasingly
popular with patrons. Also, some areas deemed too technical by some public libraries
may be of interest to Jervis's patrons due to the number of citizens employed
at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Rome site, who are engaged in various
scientific and technological pursuits.
The library tries to make materials available in a variety of
formats, such as computer software, audiocassettes, videocassettes, CDs, and
periodicals as well as books. However, print materials, especially books, are
the most commonly purchased format and remain the most popular materials sought
by users. This is likely to remain for the foreseeable future, though numbers
of materials purchased in other formats are steadily growing.
Books for adults and children are essentially chosen according
to similar criteria with respect to quality and value. The main difference is
that adults' books are chosen mostly for readers who have reached mature viewpoints,
whereas children's and young adult books are chosen for readers whose viewpoints
are in the process of developing.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR SELECTION
Input for collection development decisions comes
from professional librarians on the staff. Most materials are selected upon
the reading of reviews in selection sources commonly used by librarians. Some
of these are American Library Association's Booklist, the Kirkus Reviews,
Library Journal, and The New York Times Book Review. Orders are
also prompted by advertisements and catalogs, and by noting inadequacies in
a given subject area. Once the deficiency is noticed, suitable titles are ordered
as listed in reputable publishers' catalogs kept on file or in Subject Guide
to Books in Print. Additionally, books are ordered at the prompting of patrons.
Patron input is always welcome in building the library's collections, assuming
suitable reviews or patron expertise recommend the material.
In choosing new materials to develop the collection, librarians
rely on their knowledge of the community, what is already in the library, literature
of the fields under consideration, and, importantly, the library's budgetary
constraints. Expensive items of limited interest to the general public are rarely
affordable. Then decisions must be made on the basis of such factors as quality,
likely popularity, and recency.
Ultimately only the Director has full authority to approve collection
development decisions. Librarians working under her supervision submit ordering
suggestions to her. She reviews the suggestions based on anticipated or demonstrated
need, collection philosophy, and budgetary constraints.
COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT BY SUBJECT AREA
The library uses the Dewey Decimal system, with
classification numbers 000 through 900, to classify its nonfiction. Each range
of numbers indicates a subject area to which a certain amount of collection
development attention is given. Different emphases are placed on different aspects
within a given subject area.
In the Dewey 000's, the area of general works, the strongest need for collection
development is for computer books. This field both changes rapidly and is of
great public interest, triggering a constant demand for new materials. Other
areas of the 000's include encyclopedias, books on the book trade, general bibliography,
and library science. Collection development here is, and probably will continue
to be, modest. Encyclopedias must be kept up-to-date, but many of the other
non-computer books in the Dewey 000's do not become dated rapidly and are not
in heavy demand. The library has a sound core collection.
The Dewey 100's cover such fields as philosophy,
psychology, and the occult. The most active collection development here is
and probably will continue to be psychology. Demand is substantial for both
the most important basic psychology books and for popular self-help books.
Parapsychology and occultism are also popular topics. In philosophy there
is a sound core collection of basic thought by the most acknowledged thinkers.
Little collection development is needed in philosophy, however, because the
books do not become rapidly dated; significant new materials do not appear
often; and public demand for philosophy books is low. In the area of the occult,
some materials are provided to offer alternative viewpoints on religious and
philosophical questions, but collection development is minimal, as the major
cultural emphasis in Rome is currently Judeo-Christian.
The Dewey 200's cover religion and mythology.
Most of the books are from the Judeo-Christian tradition, as the majority of
the community adheres to this tradition. However, there is a significant amount
of information about other major world religions. The religion collection will
probably not become a high collection development priority for the foreseeable
future because a basic collection is owned, materials do not become dated quickly,
and the influx of new ideas is relatively small. Mythology books will always
be monitored for adequate supply, as these are frequently requested for school
The Dewey 300's cover the social sciences: political
science, economics, law, education, and social welfare. This is one of the most
active collection development priorities. Public demand is high here because
this subject area covers both basic practical needs and frequent topics for
school assignments. Materials become dated quickly, necessitating constant updating
and revision. Specifically, a wide variety of information on such topical issues
as global warming, capital punishment, and abortion must be maintained. These
topics are constantly requested for school assignments. Though technical legal
questions are referred to the county Law Library in Utica, there is high popular
demand for legal books for the layman. Books on government programs such as
Social Security are always in demand. The library is especially proud of its
comprehensive, in-depth college and vocational guidance collections which it
intends to maintain at the current level of quality.
The Dewey 400's cover languages, both English and foreign. Collection development
is moderate here, but steady. New editions and types of dictionaries and thesauri
are purchased steadily to keep up with developments in the ever-changing English
language. A basic level of collection development occurs to maintain foreign language
dictionaries for the most popular foreign languages and basic language instruction
books for these foreign languages. Language instruction on audio cassettes is
also acquired. In the foreign languages, the most active selection occurs in Spanish,
due to heightened demand. The core collection in languages is strong and the materials
do not become dated quickly. Popular demand is not as high as it is in an area
such as the social sciences. The Dewey 400's, then, will continue to be one of
moderate collection development activity.
The Dewey 500's concern the pure sciences, such as mathematics, biology, physics,
and chemistry. Collection development here is moderate and steady. Comprehensive
coverage of such fields as physics, biology, and chemistry would entail purchasing
highly technical works best left to academic libraries. Still, the library feels
it important to feature some technical works and certainly feels an obligation
to provide current works for the layperson. Again, the core collection is sound,
and change in the pure sciences (as opposed to technology) is not extremely rapid,
so unusually active collection development is not needed. The most actively developed
areas are probably books on weather, plants, wildlife, chemistry (at the middle
and secondary school level), and astronomy (for school assignments and the amateur
astronomer). These are of popular interest and frequently requested for school
The Dewey 600 area deals with applied technology, and covers such diverse fields
as pets, gardening, medicine, business, automotive repair, home improvement, and
cookery. In general, this is and will continue to be a highly developed area.
The applied technology books minister to very practical needs and are in constant
high demand. Though books in such fields as gardening and cookery do not become
dated quickly, books on medicine, vehicle repair, and business often do. The library
prides itself on its collection of do-it-yourself and home improvement books,
which is extensive. There is a constant demand for medical books for the layman
and books on resume writing and job-seeking. There are frequent questions on such
diverse 600's fields as weightlifting, raising farm animals, and nutrition. In
short, demand in the 600's is extremely high and this area is constantly watched
The Dewey 700's cover the arts, crafts, antiques, collectibles, and sports. Collection
development is and will probably continue to be minimal in fine arts and classical
music because the core collection is strong and the materials do not become dated
quickly. The main need is to maintain present coverage and make sure the library
has materials on artists about whom school term papers are frequently written
and new artists in the public spotlight. There is active collection development
in the areas of popular music, sports, and antiques and collectibles. Many biographies
of musicians and athletes are cataloged in the 700's. Here the demand is high
and the information changes rapidly, requiring constant updating.
The Dewey 800's include literary criticism, poetry, essays, and drama, as well
as books on public speaking and the art and technique of writing. The main need
in literary criticism, poetry, and drama is to collect materials most likely to
be requested for school assignments. A watch is kept for particularly significant
new poetry and drama, but in general these are not high demand areas in this particular
library and the core collection of classic writers is sound. Essays are not a
high priority, as there is little demand for these. The library has a sound core
collection of books on writing technique, so there is little need for extensive
collection development here.
The Dewey 900's cover history and geography. There is high demand in this area,
but the library's collection, especially in history, is so extensive that collection
development need be no more than steady and moderate here. As is the case with
religion and philosophy, the history books do not usually become dated quickly.
The library keeps a watch for significant new materials that offer fresh interpretations
of historical events and cover new developing events. As world events unfold and
geographic and governmental boundaries change, new materials reflecting these
changes are purchased. Travel books, atlases, and geographic and cultural books
on the United States and foreign countries are actively collected. The atlases
and general books on foreign countries are constantly requested by students. Travel
books become dated quickly and are in high demand from the public.
Biographies, denoted by the "B" symbol and filed alphabetically by the
person about whom the book is written, are collected fairly actively. These are
both frequently requested for school assignments and form a type of popular reading
second in appeal only to fiction. The library purchases both biographies of people
not currently covered by the collection and biographies which offer new interpretations
of the lives of individuals already covered in the collection.
In the area of fiction the library recognizes a strong commitment to both popularity
and quality. Fiction is a very actively developed area, as fiction in book form
is the primary entertainment material demanded of and provided by the library.
Patrons are especially interested in new fiction, the latest developments in the
publishing world. The library is committed to supplying an ample and ever-changing
quantity of new fiction. High circulation potential and literary quality are both
important factors in selecting new fiction. The situation is optimum when high
circulation potential and literary quality appear in the same book, but there
must, of necessity, be books that incline toward one of these factors more than
the other. The library attempts to maintain an up-to date, ever-changing, balanced
collection of fiction with stories of many different types to satisfy different
public tastes. Mysteries are an emphasized collection development area as they
are especially popular at this library. A significant amount of science fiction
and fantasy is purchased when in hardcover. Mysteries, however, remain the form
of genre fiction most in demand. Novels are a priority over short story collections
in fiction, as novels are both more numerous and more popular. A sound collection
of classics, including those likely to be requested for school assignments, is
CHILDREN'S NON-FICTION AND FICTION
Children's non-fiction is purchased to fulfill both the needs of school assignments
and to provide materials through which children of various ages and reading abilities
can learn about the world. Though school libraries have primary responsibility
to support school curricula, Jervis Library, with its extensive open hours and
large collection, is heavily used by students as a homework center. Thus, the
library does provide materials which support completion of homework assignments.
As children are both avid learners and have a wide variety of interests, children's
non-fiction is collected to represent a broad spectrum of topics.
When choosing children's fiction, quality is carefully balanced
against immediacy of appeal, particularly in selecting picture books for younger
children, who often have short attention spans. Literary quality figures at
least as importantly as interest level in selecting the intermediate children's
fiction, which is classified by the "J" and "JH" symbols
and alphabetized by author. Materials chosen for children are selected to stimulate
appreciation for reading and learning. Materials shelved in the Children's Room
include books for young children through readers in 7th grade.
YOUNG ADULT (YA) NON-FICTION AND FICTION
Young adult books are those written for readers grade 8 on up and are classified
with the "YA" symbol. Both YA fiction and YA non-fiction are shelved
with the adult collection. There is a special area where new "YA" books
are showcased. When librarians choose fiction for young adults, immediate appeal
can be especially important because some who read these books are reluctant readers.
The non-reluctant young adult reader is frequently already reading books for adults.
Young adult books, however, are often much more than interim books between childhood
and adulthood. YA books often have solid artistic merit of their own and appeal
to teen and adult readers. Thus, lasting value is an important consideration in
choosing "YA" fiction.
"YA" non-fiction is not always distinguishable from
adult non-fiction. The two are shelved together in the adult section by Dewey
subject number. [Though most "YA" non-fiction is classified with the
"YA" symbol, some are classified by three dashes (---) on the spine.]
The library chooses "YA" non-fiction which deals with adult-level
material, but which is not too difficult for readers grades 8 and up. As with
adult non-fiction, clarity, accuracy, and authoritativeness are important selection
criteria. Because many "YA" non-fiction books are used for school
reports, information in these books should be presented in clearly accessible
formats suited to easy extraction. In the areas of both fiction and non-fiction,
"YA" books are chosen to both minister to young adult readers' existing
interests and perspectives and to stimulate them to seek increasing challenges
in reading material.
The main format collected is hardcover or trade-paperback books, including large
print. Also, the library purchases a growing number of materials in non-print
formats in response to popular demand and to provide a variety of ways through
which information and entertainment can be accessed by all patrons, including
those with physical, visual, or hearing disabilities. Specifically, instructional
videos, entertainment videos for both adults and children, and spoken and musical
audiocassettes, CDs, and computer software are purchased. The library attempts
to provide a sufficient variety of these, though printed books remain the format
of primary emphasis.
Via the Mid-York Library System and the Internet, Jervis Library
has access to a wide range of electronic resources. A small number of these
are products of the Mid-York Library System, usually bibliographies or indexes
to materials of local interest. Also, Mid-York provides access to electronic
resources over the Internet, magazine indexing and abstracting databases, readers'
advisory databases, online encyclopedias, biographical databases, and subject
related databases. The library actively pursues automation/computer resources
on its own and in conjunction with the Mid-York Library System. This pursuit
includes the "Electronic Doorway Library" concept, promulgated by
N.Y.S. Department of Education, Board of Regents, and Department of Library
Development. See the library's Long Range Plan
for objectives of the "Electronic Doorway Library" concept.
The library subscribes to a large number of predominantly popular
interest periodicals reflecting a variety of subjects and tastes. Some of these
periodicals are acquired mainly for recreational reading, while others, accessed
by indexes, primarily serve a reference function. Most periodicals are retained
for either two years or five years. Those that are deemed most worthy for research
are bound for permanent retention. New periodicals subscriptions are instituted
based on quality, likely popularity, and coverage of the subject matter by other
periodicals in the collection. Selection is guided by major periodicals reviewing
sources such as Magazines for Libraries. Input from patrons can also
be important in prompting new subscriptions. The library will frequently subscribe
to a periodical in which a number of patrons express interest, if the periodical
is affordable and judged likely to have broad appeal.
Microforms are collected mainly to store newspapers. The library
maintains an ongoing microfilm collection of The Rome Daily Sentinel
and The New York Times. A few other upstate New York newspapers are acquired
in paper format only, but are discarded after 1 to 12 months. Other than for
storing newspapers, the microforms format is currently used mainly to store
census information. The library has no current plans to collect periodicals
in microform format. The library currently maintains a selective index to the
Rome Daily Sentinel (which indexing will cease when the Sentinel's
own index becomes viable), and offers print and electronic indexes to the New
Mass-market paperbacks are purchased in moderate quantity. These
are mostly adults' and children's fiction, often of a more popular, ephemeral
nature than hardcover books and trade paperbacks. Mass-market paperbacks are
not usually cataloged, unless they are deemed worthwhile to the general collection.
The Mid-York Library System will add only certain mass-market paperbacks to
the system-wide database which is the union catalog. The library purchases an
increasing amount of non-fiction in trade paperback form, as these books are
less expensive than hardcover editions of the same title. Usually, fiction is
collected in trade paperback rather than hardcover form only when the hardcover
format is unavailable; or in some cases where the hardcover format is prohibitively
expensive. Oftentimes, the more ephemeral paperbacks are received as gifts.
DUPLICATION, REPLACEMENT, AND REPAIR
Duplication usually occurs only when purchasing highly popular books, especially
best-selling fiction. This type of book is sometimes purchased initially in multiple
copies in anticipation of demand, or additional copies are added through purchase
or gifts as demand peaks. Once demand subsides, some of these duplicates are often
weeded. Over the course of time, duplicates, unless shown necessary by demand,
are more and more likely to be withdrawn.
Missing or irreparably damaged books are replaced by a new copy
of the same title or a newer title on the same subject if need is likely to
exist and if the collection will be significantly reduced by the loss of the
book in question. Moderately damaged or worn books judged to be of lasting value
to the collection are repaired or rebound.
Jervis Library is always appreciative of worthwhile gifts that can be incorporated
into the cataloged collection. Donations of books are accepted with the understanding
that the library may ask the donor to reclaim titles the library cannot use, or
at least that the library is free to sell or donate to other libraries titles
for which it has no need. If approached about a possible gift, librarians will
usually try to make a preliminary estimate of whether the books might be needed.
Donations of books that are of limited interest, in poor physical condition, mildewed,
dirty, or out-of-date are rejected.
Once gift books are accepted for examination, decision whether
to incorporate individual titles is made by the Director and/or Assistant Director
after the clerical staff has checked to see which of the books the library already
owns. If in good condition and not duplications, gift books are judged according
to the same standards as purchased books. If there are any conditions attached
by the donor to the acquiring of a gift, the conditions are considered by a
librarian, or possibly the Director if the decision is judged by the librarian
to be important enough to be referred to her. If the library judges the conditions
reasonable, it will sometimes accept the gift materials; and will reject them
if the conditions are not judged reasonable. In no case is the library permitted
to place a value on donated items for income tax purposes; it will simply acknowledge
receipt of the gift.
Books which are in poor condition are repaired, rebound, or if no longer relevant,
withdrawn from the collection. Weeding of duplicate copies in the circulating
area is often prompted by space limitations. Considered in weeding are: a book's
circulation record (how many times it has circulated and how recently); its continuing
relevance given publication date; whether it is of lasting value; whether it is
still of value to this particular community; and whether it is valuable as a document
of its time. Is the book likely to fulfill any need that another, more recent
book on the same subject does not fill? Books are sometimes pulled for weeding
consideration on the basis of computer printouts indicating zero or low circulation.
Professional librarians then weigh other factors which include: quality, datedness,
physical condition, and relevance to the community and within the collection.
Within the reference collection space is also a concern, but the main concern
is recentness, as these books should be on the cutting edge of new information,
keeping budgetary constraints in mind.
Continual evaluation of the collection is performed by librarians, usually when
some limitation in coverage, timeliness, or space is indicated. These factors
can cause that particular subject area to come under scrutiny. The reference area
is continually evaluated according to both comprehensiveness and recency. The
library does not generally find it necessary to evaluate the whole circulating
collection or large parts of it at one time. Time and staff shortages do not permit
this. The library assumes that through its normal collection development procedures,
including public input and recommendations, it is meeting the public's needs.
On an on-going basis, collection evaluation occurs anytime librarians
are contemplating buying an advertised or reviewed book and are considering
whether the collection needs that book or books of its type. Also, consciousness
of changing patterns in the community is always maintained. This awareness leads
to evaluation of portions of the collection. Parts of the collection are evaluated
periodically when checklists of best or most essential books in given fields
are published. The library's collection is checked against these lists to see
which books are owned and which should be purchased. Such lists are published,
for example, in Booklist, Library Journal and so forth. At intervals,
patron surveys are taken to gather public input concerning the collection's
While readily providing books for interlibrary loan to other libraries, Jervis
Library itself aims at a high degree of self-sufficiency. This is gauged by frequently
demonstrated needs of the community. A certain self-sufficiency is necessary because
a large number of patrons are interested only in information that is in the library
at a given time. Frequently patrons are working on school assignments which are
due before materials requested on interlibrary loan can arrive. If the library
cannot provide information when reference questions are asked, collection development
is judged to be needed in the deficient area, especially if the reference question
recurs or is judged likely to recur.
In a democratic society a free flow of ideas is essential. To uphold that freedom
Jervis Library develops its collection to reflect a variety of topics, viewpoints,
and reading tastes, and feels an obligation to protect the individual's right
to choose information without constraint or censorship. The library, then, fully
supports the concept of intellectual freedom as specified by the First Amendment
to the United States Constitution, the "Library Bill of Rights," and
the "Freedom to Read Statement." (Texts appended, as endorsed by the
Board of Trustees).
Since people's opinions and backgrounds are so diverse, from
time to time a patron may object to the library's owning of certain items. Complaints
about materials are first sympathetically listened to by the librarian who receives
the complaint. If the complaint persists, a material inquiry form is offered
to the patron. The patron is asked to express on the form his or her feelings
about the book in question. This form is filed with the Director and usually
initiates examination of the disputed book. Reviews are sought and read and
the matter is discussed further with the person filing the complaint. The Director,
possibly in conjunction with the Board of Trustees, reaches a final decision
regarding the item.
This policy may be revised from time to time when the Director and/or Board of
Trustees deem necessary. The library must be open to revision of its collection
development philosophy as the community's needs evolve. Jervis Library recognizes
as its primary responsibility ongoing responsiveness to the community it serves.