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I appreciate all the input from all the seasoned experts on how to evaluate a
high school collection for the first time by a beginning library media
specialist. The former science teacher in me has distilled, condensed, and
synthesized the suggestions into the following list. If a recommendation was
given more that once, the total number of times it was suggested in given in

Craig Jenkins
Media Specialist, Western Alamance High School, Elon College, NC

These first three can be ordered from: Hi Willow Research and Publishing, San
E-mail: davidl@wahoo.sjsu.edu. Phone: 800-873-3043. World Wide Web:

Collection Mapping in the LMC by David Loertscher. Outlines how to evaluate
collection step-by-step. [2]

Building a School Library Collection Plan: A Beginning Handbook by Loertscher
and Woolls

Reinvent your school's library in the age of technology: a guide for
principals and superintendents.
High School Catalog (H.W. Wilson). Suggests a core collection for library. [3]

Best Reference Materials by Hamilton

Collection Assessment and Management for School Libraries by Debra E. Kachel,
1997 Greenwood Press

Use Booklist to fill in gaps.

Consider the requests teachers and students made during the year that
couldn't be filled.

When classes came in, what topics sent you into a panic. Consider adding to
these areas.

Follow the suggestions at www.sunlink.ucf.edu/weed/. Does a weed of the
month. Takes one area of the library to weed.

Pick a critical Dewey area, sit down to develop weeding criteria
(currency/accuracy of information, usage, relevance to the curriculum,
physical condition. Health, astronomy, or careers might be good places to
start. Using the Senior High School Library Catalog to justify weeds: if it
isn't in there and it hasn't circulated within a given number of years, out
it goes.

Use the CREW method. Weed only about 3 areas a year (ex. 500's, 600's,
800's). This allows for beefing up on those sections the next year when
materials are ordered. [2]

Weed the crummy looking stuff...it covers up the good stuff. No one wants to
dig through the junk to find the attractive books.

Do collection mapping. In this system, you categorize all your resources
(books, videos, periodicals, etc) by subject in order to tell where your
strengths and weaknesses are. Then look at the curriculum and see which parts
of the collection support it well and where you need to develop the
collection. From here write (or edit) a collection development policy. Keep
the policy on hand is case there are challenges to the materials.

Ask department heads and faculty to make suggestions. [5]

Look at what teachers are having students use in the library as well as what
is not being used. [3]

Check the curricula. Dwell on the curricula. Determine the materials from the
library that are used and the areas that need materials they are unable to
find in the library. [2]

Do not discard anything until you get to know the students, staff and the
collection. Even things which don't circulate may have heavy in-library use
patterns. Watch and see what gets used and show well the assignments can be
met. In an automated collection, where there is no record of what does or
doesn't get used, have volunteers insert dated dummy cards. If these dummy
cards are pulled whenever a book is circulated, than at the end of the year
the cards will remain only in the books that no one wanted to use. [2]

To see if you are balanced: analyze acquisitions and holdings by Dewey
number. [4]

Analyze circulation by Dewy number. High circulation should have higher
percentage of materials. [2]

See which books don't circulate. Are these obsolete or no longer part of the
curriculum? Are they unattractive? If they SHOULD be used perhaps the
cataloging needs to be "tweeked" so they are listed under the subject the
students and teachers are most likely to look for them.

Analyze interlibrary loan statistics. An indication where the collection has
inadequate holdings.

Run a materials report for the number of nonfiction books by copyright date
to determine what percentage of collection is (probably) obsolete. Preview
the report before printing, it lists each book. If this is too much data try
narrowing down to a ten or 5 year period. May have to check volume by volume
if copyright dates are not available (especially for the oldest materials).

If administration will not budget for new books and will not allow you to
discard books, evaluate the age of the collection and then go before
administrator to request funding. If you are not automated, then sample every
tenth book in a given Dewey section, do the math, and come up with an

For magazines, keep a back issue chart (a record of use - check marks next to
title and date). Helps determine how long to keep back issues.

Do a complete inventory to become acquainted with the collection. Weed dated
materials at this time and determine gaps or weak places in collection. [2]

The 520's (space/planets) and low 600's (technology & vehicles, space travel)
are probably the most critical. Dinosaur books may receive heavy usage and
may need updating as well as anything on "early man." Check geography books
on other countries and reference materials like atlases, esp. Eastern Europe
(former U.S.S.R.) and African areas.

Several encyclopedia companies have announced they will offer only online
versions. Except in high tech areas, encyclopedias are usually useful for at
least ten years. If the set(s) you have now look like they get lots or use,
consider buying more while you still can, especially if you don't have a lot
of Internet access.

Use standard bibliographies such as HS Library Catalog, Fiction, Catalog,
Best Books for Teen Aged Readers, etc. to compare to your collection. Do not
discard anything that was useful for assignments and the curriculum or
recommend by the bibliographies.

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