17 May 2015

Selecting Materials

Librarians have to select materials that "fit" the scope and depth of the collection development policy. We read a lot of reviews and prioritize what to buy as there is never enough money to purchase every item that we know that should be in our collections and/or that our customers would like.

A few of the publications that used BDC resources
There aren't all that many publications exclusively focused on the people, places, and themes of Beaufort, Hampton and Jasper Counties, 10,000 BCE to about 1965. When you're responsible for a non-fiction local history collection such as the BDC, the universe of publications is smaller but there are many more publications that include something about what we cover. It can be enjoyable trying to find those nuggets. Some items I know about because the creators have done some of their research in the BDC (though it can take years to bring a work to fruition). Some I learn about reading reviews. Some I learn about because a customer asked about the item or recommended the item for purchase.

As you can see, building a solid research collection devoted to the history, Gullah culture, archaeology, genealogy, and natural history of this place takes knowledge, skill, time, and an operational rubric. I make a decision based on the ratio of materials about the Beaufort District area in the work considered as a whole; personal knowledge of the content of similar materials already in our collection and whether the item is unusual or unique in some way in comparison with the materials we have in the BDC.

To save money,  I have been known to borrow a copy from another SCLENDS library (with much larger materials budgets than we have here in Beaufort County Library) to review the item's amount of relevant content to the scope and depth of our collection development policy. If the relevant section is 20 pages or less, I often photocopy only the appropriate pages and then file the information in one of the more than 1100 vertical files we have in the BDC. Sometimes I go on to purchase a copy of the item for the permanent research collection immediately after the review; sometimes I delay purchase to the next fiscal year because there are no funds left; and sometimes I make a decision not to purchase the material at all.   

Lobeco Branch Local History
If a particular book, audio-visual material, DVD, etc. is bought for the BDC, then there is a possibility that duplicate copies might be purchased for check out in the Local History sections at the branch libraries. It is my responsibility to select the Local History materials for each of the five regular branches in the Beaufort County Library system. By definition, the Local History sections contain biographies, nonfiction books and DVDs about local history, including Gullah traditions, natural history and other topics related to what was the original Beaufort District. Other regional history resources are located in the general sections of the branch libraries. Nor do the Local History sections house works of creative fiction, such as novels. While we have Civil War related materials about this specific area in the local history sections, we do not house all Civil War related materials there. For most Civil War era related materials, you would really need to review all of the 973 sections: general collection, Reference collections; local history collections; and the Beaufort District Collection. Of course, the number of copies available for check out depends on the size of the budget for materials and how busy a particular branch library's local history section is. 

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