Library & Information Science, Course 266: Collection Development.
Dr. David Loertscher
Hints for this chapter (PRESENTATION)
In this chapter you are trying to understand the institution you are working in and the patrons who you consider your target for information services. Here are some of the questions or topics you may address:Describe the library and its organization briefly (often in a college catalog or descriptive brochure about the institution)
What are the goals of the institution?
Who are the expected patrons of the library? All the people in the community? All the students who register? The engineers in the firm?
What demographics describe the potential patrons of your library? type of community, socioeconomic status, culture, racial mix, types of jobs available, industry or lack of, rural/suburban, etc. Give statistics, include charts or graphs.
Remember that for this first part of the chapter you are trying to describe the entire population who could use your services. Such information is often readily available so look for such a description in the documents issued by your institution. If there is no such information, interview people in the know until you feel you have a handle on the population. You might use the 1990 federal census for demographic data or data available from city/county/state governments.
In the second part of the chapter, describe the patrons who actually use the library. This will be a subset of the total potential patron reservoir. Cover who comes, why they come. Also describe groups that don't come and why they don't come. Remember to think of both walk-in folks and electronic visitors. Some libraries may have already conducted a use study or keep statistics about those who visit. You'll be lucky if you find such data. You might have to do some interviewing to find this out. Try to talk to people who might know such as persons who have been with the library for a long time - those who observe those coming and going. You might do a brief questionnaire to user groups or nonuser groups. Talk to nonusers in places they congregate.
I don't expect you to do a major study, but imagine what it would be like if you had to conduct such a study over a period of several months. How would you go about it and how would you make sure you could trust the data you were collecting?
Finally, in the chapter, discuss the discrepancy between the actual users and the potential users. Why is there a gap? How big is the gap? What do you think has caused the gap? What do you think could be done to close the gap? Is the collection itself the cause of the gap? Is it the atmosphere? The library staff? The location? Access rules? What implications does this chapter have for the person in charge of collection development?
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