I work in a library as a library assistant and am quite familiar with the useful purposes of a collection development policy. Essentially a collection development policy guides a library’s purchasing choices and also assists with weeding. Collection Development policies ensure that a collection meets the needs and desires of users. I can’t believe I didn’t think to write a policy for my own book-buying until a few months ago. And it has taken me until last week to go about actually writing it down.
This is how I knew it was time:
Summertime. The night of the Harry Potter 7.2 midnight movie. In Barnes and Noble. $25 in my pocket. Absolutely panicked. Finally I have a chance to buy books…. but what? I can only buy one or two items and there’s so much! Fiction? Classics? Non-Fiction? Ack!!!!!!! I finally chose a novel, but the process was disconcerting. I was overwhelmed with choices, limited with funds, and had no idea what I even wanted. I had a title or two in my head, but when I couldn’t find those on the shelves I felt severe anxiety. Booknerd Anxiety.
A few weeks later, a repeat. Same summer, but this time a used bookstore. $20 in my books and too many choices. Same issue.
Then this fall a completely different problem. I blew $20 at the charity library sale and came home with close to 40 books. I just grabbed what looked interesting and now I don’t know where to put them all.
Okay. Seriously. I need a collection development policy.
Amanda’s Collection Development Policy
General Scope: Mostly British / Classics / Women Writers / Historical Fiction
Collected Presses: Virago / Persephone / NYRB
Areas of Collection Growth:
Poets: Sylvia Plath / Anne Sexton / Edna St. Vincent Millay / T.S. Eliot / W.B. Yeats
Story Collections: From collected authors (see Authors list) / Mystery / Gothic and Ghostly / Historical / Fables and Fairy Tales
Historical Periods and Interests (for topical fiction and non-fiction collection): Victorian / History of the Book / Memoirs and Biographies by and/or about writers / British History 1400-1600 / Bohemian Leftbank / WWI, WW2, and in between / Classic Art / Fables and Fairy Tales
Authors: Sharon Kay Penman / The Brontes / Elizabeth Gaskell / Charles Dickens / Wilkie Collins / Evelyn Waugh / Angela Carter / Elizabeth Bowen / Shirley Jackson / Margaret George / Simone de Beauvoir / Virginia Woolf / George Eliot / E M Forster / John Galsworthy / Sylvia Townsend Warner / Rebecca West / Emile Zola / Iris Murdoch / Barbara Pym / Patricia Highsmith / A S Byatt / H P Lovecraft / M R James / Margaret Atwood
Those are the basic parameters.
Here are essential questions to ask before buying a book:
- Is this item in good shape?
- Is it from a press I collect or an area of collection growth?
Questions to Ask After Reading (must answer “yes” to at least four of the following questions to keep the book:
- Will I read this again?
- Will I wish to consult this item again?
- Do I wish to lend this title to friends/family or save it for my children?
- Is this a press I collect?
- Does this fall within the areas of collection growth?
- Is this a quality item (in good shape, excellent translation, etc….)?
Now I have a plan when I shop. First check for the presses I collect, second check my author list, third check for poetry and short stories, and fourth check for non-fiction titles.
This really really really makes me want to buy more books just to check out the policy. My next book-nerd clean up task is to do a massive book reorganizing, create a plan of attack for reading my books that I’m not sure I’ll keep, and then updating my LibraryThing (which is vastly incorrect and hasn’t been updated in two years).
Cheers for my nerdy OCD!
Give me some feedback? What do you think of my policy? Do you have a policy?