SJSU Portfolio

Competency #6

Use the basic concepts and principles related to the creation, evaluation, selection, acquisition, preservation and organization of specific items or collections of information

Ten clergymen met in 1701 Connecticut, between them producing forty folios, which they piled on a table as pledge of their support for the foundation of what would later become Yale University. Though perhaps more legend than history, the story endures because it captures in dramatic form an important truth: a great institution is founded on its collection of resources. Though library collections and the librarian’s tasks evolve beyond the comprehension of those 1701 clergymen, the establishment and maintenance of the collection remains a constant duty of the competent librarian. Books such as the Yale “Forty Folios” in fact represent two important types of collection skills which competent librarians must possess: creation and preservation.

To create, select, and acquire a relevant collection which will ensure continued library patronage, a competent librarian must combine a strong knowledge of available resources with a clear understanding of library users’ needs and preferences. Digital information resources become increasingly crucial to library users, though for collections such as found in schoolor public libraries, the print collection retains its central importance. Whether purchasing popular fiction, selecting academic journals, or choosing an array of databases, a librarian must be able to allocate and prioritize resources so that the materials most needed and desired by users are provided. The librarian selecting collection materials is guided by two of Ranganathan’s “Five Laws of Library Science”: “Every person his or her book”, and “Every book, its reader” (Eberhart, 2006, p. 65).

In the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, inside the central glass cube housing some of the world’s bibliographic treasures, 70% of those founding volumes of the Yale Library have been reassembled. This climate controlled central cube, where humidity, temperature, and light are controlled, represents the pinnacle of collection preservation, but less lofty institutions must also maintain their materials. Digital, print, or physical, a collection is not static— it must be constantly evaluated, reorganized, and preserved for future use. Much of that carefully chosen popular fiction is soon dated; its circulation drops. The assortment of academic journals well–suited to a campus community two years ago becomes insufficient when a new major is introduced; new or improved digital resources are added constantly. A competent librarian must master the multiple abilities necessary for collection maintenance, understanding not only the need for strategic additions, but the rationales for necessary subtractions. The competency includes knowledge of physical protection and repair, and also of consistent criteria for decisions on removing or relocating collection material. “A library”, Ranganathan’s Fifth Law reminds us, “is a growing organism”(Eberhart, 2006, p.65).

In Libr 266, Collection Management, taught by Arglenda Friday, I had many opportunities to develop my skills in collection development. To demonstrate my ability to create, select, and acquire a well–chosen library collection, I am attaching an Opening Day Collection in poetry designed for the specific needs of the Northern California high school where I teach. After viewing the completed collection, the high school teacher librarian suggested I pursue a grant to purchase this specific collection, something I may attempt in the future. Another Libr 266 assignment displays my ability to evaluate an existing collection—that same high school’s current Shakespeare holdings. For Libr 263, taught by Shirley Lukenbill, I created a collection of winter holiday non-fiction for children 5— 8. I have a large regret about this assignment: when working on it I had failed to understand that books Dewey classified as ‘E’ are not regarded as non-fiction—I did not receive credit for any of my ‘E’ entries. However, this assignment shows my application of an important collection selection skill, as it required extensive use of selection aids as justification for our purchases, which were limited in number.

As part of my field experience in a high school library, I have completed weeding of the entire fiction collection, a task which had not been attempted in many years. I am attaching the approved criteria I created for the procedure, as well as records and photographs demonstrating the size and success of the completed task.


Eberhart, G.M. (2006). The whole library handbook. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.