Monday, June 1, 2009

DD's Maxims of Collection Management

North Texas librarians are participating in an online program to learn "23 Things" about Web 2.0 tools. Setting up this blog will let me share 20+ years of collection management successes and frustrations. I'm currently the Collection Management Administrator at Fort Worth Library. Before that, I had similar positions at Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library and Springfield (Mass) City Library, with a brief but enjoyable foray to the Dark Side at Sirsi.

About 10 years ago, after a particularly frustrating head-banger of a day, I typed these up and stuck them on a bulletin board in the office. Somehow they made their way around the Web, then Charlie Robinson picked them up in the March 1999 issue of Library Administrator's Digest. Looking back over them, they seem as relevant now as they did then. We'll address each one in future posts, and maybe come up with some more.
  • "Circulating" implies the book comes back.
  • Books are tools. When they're no longer useful, throw them away and get better ones.
  • An old book is not necessarily a bad book.
  • A new book is not necessarily a good book.
  • A book is good only if it's used once in a while.
  • If the collection is "self-weeding," what's left on the shelf isn't worth stealing. Weed it!
  • Just because it would leave the shelves bare doesn't mean we don't weed it.
  • Just because it'll get stolen doesn't mean we don't buy it.
  • Building a collection with gifts isn't collection building.
  • Gift books aren't free.
  • Better multiple copies of one good book than single copies of lots of mediocre ones.
  • A book sitting in Tech Services does no one any good.
  • A request in the hand is worth two "maybes" in the bush.
  • No one wants to tell a customer that we didn't buy more copies of the book he wants to read because we're saving the money to buy something that someone might want to read some day.
  • Multiple copies of popular titles that circulate many times a year and then die are just as good of a use of taxpayers' dollars as single copies of single titles that circulate seldom but steadily over several years.
  • If it hasn't been used in the last two years, it's probably not going to be used at all.
  • A good collection has something offensive for everybody.
  • No book at all is better than one that's inaccurate or out of date.
  • Internet access can enhance a collection. It can't replace it.


  1. I like this list. May I use it with my librarians at an in-service?

    I'll be your guide, coach, helpmeet as you go through the 23 things. Which "thing" do you like the most so far?


  2. This is great! I've shared this with my colleagues and they love it. I hope you continue to post to your blog. I'm looking foward to your posts.