Collection Evaluation:
Knowing What You Have
and What You Need
Debra E. Kachel
Instructor, School Library & Info
Technologies Graduate School
Mansfield University
This workshop was made
possible with funds from:
Pennsylvania Department of Education
Commonwealth Libraries
Bureau of Library Development
Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA) Funds
June 2010
This workshop utilizes
WebJunction Pennsylvania
• WJPA provides an online learning
community for librarians to share
ideas, news, and engage in online
• Workshop handouts, activities, and
bookmarked links, as well as this
PowerPoint are available at
• User-created login required
Workshop Overview
Participants will learn to tailor a library
collection to meet the needs of
students, teachers, and the curriculum
1. evaluating existing resources,
2. applying techniques and planning to
weeding, and
3. prioritizing and locating resources
to meet identified needs.
Workshop Objectives
Participants will be able to:
1. Apply data and strategies to assess
existing library resources,
2. Set priorities to build a physical and
virtual collection for their school,
3. Effectively weed collections, and
4. Access selection resources to develop a
focused library collection.
The Collection Development Process
Collection –all the resources that are
delivered (made available and accessible)
through library services to students and staff
Formats – physical and virtual including
print, AV, electronic databases, Internet
sources, etc.
Delivery methods– physical (in library), ILL,
library web site “portal,” and other
technologies (computers, satellite, etc.)
From Empowering Learners,
the AASL guidelines
“The school library media program includes flexible
and equitable access to physical and virtual
collections of resources that support the school
curriculum and meet the diverse needs of all learners
One of the ACTIONS for the school librarian: “Designs
and maintains a library website that provides 24/7
access to digital information sources, instructional
interventions, reference services, links to other
libraries and academic sites, information for parents,
and exhibits of exemplary student work (34).”
A “balanced” collection means having
resources on every topic.
Does NOT Mean:
Does mean:
• You purchase a few
resources on every topic
known to mankind
•Having a balance of opinions
on controversial topics studied
in the curriculum
•Replacing each weeded
title with something on
the same topic (1 to 1
•Representing diversity in the
topics collected- includes
“ethnic and racial
backgrounds, age, physical
and cognitive abilities, family
status, sexual orientation,
socioeconomic status,
religious and spiritual values,
and geographic location.”
•Purchasing resources
“just in case” there might
be a need
Self-Censorship & Selection Bias
Reflect on your selection practices. Do you:
 Avoid selecting potentially
controversial books and media for
reasons, conscious or unconscious,
undermining the goal of a balanced
 Purchase more aggressively on
topics or genres that you personally
are interested in?
Another Misconception
The school librarian is solely responsible for the
library collection.
If you want the staff and students to feel connected to the
library, ask them to participate in:
1. Recommendations and selection of print and digital
2. Organization, especially of web resources on the
library website
3. Collection evaluation (teachers have subject expertise)
4. Weeding
Collection Assessment
1. Analyzing what you have
1. How much?
2. How old?
3. How does it compare to others?
2. Analyzing how it is used
1. Circulation/in-library use
2. Comparing use
3. Electronic counting-website, databases
Collection Assessment –
Analyzing What You Have
By uploading MARC records from the library’s automated system
to one of the vendor analysis sites, you can receive reports by
Dewey 100s and 10s and other classifications prefixes like F or
REF, on:
 Number of titles or percentages of the collection
 Average age data and titles by decade
 Age “sensitivity”
 Comparisons to other “benchmark” collections
NOTE: NO usage data, only collection data
Some Companies that offer FREE
Collection Analysis Services
Follett Library Resources
Bound to Stay Bound
or check with your book jobber
Understand that vendors provide this service
because they want your business.
Additionally, they provide a searchable
database of titles they sell.
Collection Assessment –
Analyzing Usage
Using data from the circulation system, you can
print reports on:
Circulation/in-library or in-classroom use
Comparing use annually or by call numbers
Monitoring use by patron type, grade level,
All this by Dewey 100s and 10s and other
classification prefixes like F, REF, etc.
NOTE: Usage data, some collection data
Analyzing Usage Data
It’s not as easy as it seems!
Since the amount of books and resources in each call
number or prefix areas varies, how do you determine
which areas are receiving the highest use based on the
amount of titles in that section?
For example:
The 500s have 250 titles with 132 uses last school year.
The 900s have 838 titles with 310 uses last school year.
Which section should receive priority for
additional purchases based on use?
Percent of Relative Use
Represents use “relative” to size and “relative”
to the way the rest of the collection is used
The calculation assumes that “perfect” use is
100%. In other words, the size of the collection is
adequate to fill 100% of its uses.
Over 100% = over used collection that likely
needs more titles to meet demands
Under 100% = underused collection that does
not need more titles and probably needs weeded
Activity 1 – Percent of Relative Use
You will need:
1. Activity 1: Percent of Relative Use Directions & Questions (includes Ephrata MS
Collection Age Report)
2. Laptop with Excel spreadsheet “Activity1-
PRU.xls’ file called “Percent of Relative Use”
NOTE: Use the documents from WebJunction or provided by the Trainer
Activity 1 – Using Percent of Relative Use
1. Why do you need to use a full year of data to
analyze PRU?
2. How does the percent of relative use impact
collection development?
3. What new information does it provide to the
4. How does this help the
librarian to prioritize needs?
Activity 1 – Percent of Relative Use
Some Caveats
 PRU is just one piece of usage evidence;
mostly applies to book collection.
 The reliability of the PRU depends on
capturing ALL use data.
 The assumption is that future use is based
on past use. That is not always true. What
factors might change?
 What other factors might you need to
The Numbers Game: How much is enough?
Many state and national guideline or standards
documents will not specify how many books, AV,
electronic databases, etc., a school library should have
because the way the students and staff use resources
in each building is different.
Only the librarian and teaching
staff can determine this.
However, the PRU is useful in
learning if size is meeting
Pennsylvania Guidelines (c2011)
Books- “currently useful volumes”
Middle School
High School
Serials- magazines, journals, newspapers, etc., with indexing
Middle School
High School
Collection Assessment
1. Analyzing what you have
1. How much?
2. How old?
3. How does it compare to others?
2. Analyzing how it is used
1. Circulation/in-library use
2. Comparing use
3. Electronic counting-website, databases
Types of Electronic or Digital Resources
• Online databases
• Online reference sources
• Streaming video collections
• Commercial search engines
• eBooks
• Online tutorials
• Software programs that are licensed
• Websites and portals (web indexing sites)
Unique Features of Electronic Resources
• More up-to-date
• Changing
• 24/7 access from
• May need YOU as an
intermediary for instruction, guidance
or access (passwords)
• May be access to technology issues
Selection & Evaluation
of Electronic Resources
• Needs Assessment
• Match to available resources (free websites
and/or subscription databases)
• Ask for trials if subscription-based
• Have students develop webliographies or
Internet pathfinders
• Monitor use (page counters or databases
Best article: Doug Johnson’s “Managing Digital Resources”
Check your POWER Library Usage
Database vendors can provide some data.
Keep a schedule or lesson planning book to
record when students are using specific
databases for curriculum related research,
including the topics.
Ephrata MS
Ephrata MS
Ephrata MS
HW Wilson
Work with your IT Staff
Talk to your IT staff about setting page counters
on your library web pages so that you know
how many times resources are accessed. They
may have access to tools such as WebTrends.
One that is relatively simple to use is However, you
need html access, so your IT staff
will likely need to set it up.
Workshop Overview
Participants will learn to tailor a library
collection to meet the needs of
students, teachers, and the curriculum
1. evaluating existing resources,
2. applying techniques and planning to
weeding, and
3. prioritizing and locating resources
to meet identified needs.
Steps in Developing a Plan for
Collection Building
1. Identify specific areas of high use
2. Verify use with curriculum &
3. Seek input from teachers
4. Identify needed resources
Identifying Specific Collection Areas
Select one of the areas with high PRU from the Activity 1.
Call #
% of Circ Copy Ct % of Coll
Assumption: Past use predicts future use.
Analyzing by Dewey Tens
To drill down into the way the 500s are
being used in this library, we need to look
at the 500s by Dewey tens groups.
In Activity 2 you will
gather and interpret
both quantitative and
qualitative data about a
sub area of a Dewey
hundred group.
Activity 2 – Collection Building–500s
You will need:
1. Activity 2: Collection Building-500s Directions & Questions (includes Ephrata MS
Collection Age Report - 500s)
2. Laptop with Excel spreadsheet “Activity2-
NOTE: Use the documents from WebJunction or provided by the Trainer
Activity 2 – Analyzing by Dewey Tens
 How does this process help the librarian to
target areas to build?
 How does a subject analysis of academic
standards help in collection development?
 How valuable is teacher input?
 How does this help the
librarian to prioritize needs?
Collection Evaluation also Reveals
Areas that Need “Downsizing”
Looking at the Activity 2
spreadsheet, which areas
of the 500s show relatively
little use and may be taking
up valuable “real estate” on
library shelves?
What is the average age of
that section(s)?
 A necessary component of
collection development
 Better to have nothing than
something that is a moldy “oldie”!
 Lack of funds is NEVER an
excuse for not weeding!
Every item has a useful “life”
Letting go is such a hard thing to do!
Currency is king!
Can’t keep everything! Hoarding is not good!
Easier for people to find what they want.
Looks count!
Small but higher quality collections are in!
Unweeded collections often contain
unacceptable stereotypes (sexist and racist)
….lessens credibility
CREW: Continuous Review, Evaluation,
and Weeding
An accepted weeding methodology
that has been around since the 1970s
Especially effective for school and
small public libraries
Rule of thumb-weed 5% of collection
annually (500 = 5% of 10,000
Entire collection should be reviewed
every 5 years
MUSTIE Criteria
M = Misleading
U = Ugly
S = Superseded
T = Trivial
I = Irrelevant
E = Elsewhere
CREW Manual: A Weeding Manual for Modern Librarians
(c 2008) at
The CREW Method
1. Develop policy and have administrative
2. Gather usage statistics
3. Develop a time line/calendar
4. Figure out the logistics and who can help
5. Know what the options are for repurposing
or discarding materials
CAVEAT: Don’t offer discards to
classrooms if they are out-ofdate and contain stereotypes
and inaccuracies.
Activity 3 – The Weeding Plan
You will need:
1. The file or printout of “Activity3-WeedingPlan-
2. Laptop to access the weeding resources at
3. Laptop to type group’s work
4. Large poster paper and marker
NOTE: Use the documents from WebJunction or provided by the Trainer
Activity 3 – The Weeding Plan
Formation of groups:
Group 1 – Policy
Group 2 – Data & Records
Group 3 – Time Line
Group 4 – Repurposing & Disposal
Assign roles within groups
Report & save work
Work shared later on WebJunction
The Collection Development Process
Traditional Selection Tools
 Such as the Wilson “Catalog” series, now
referred to as the “Core Collection” series
and available as online databases
 Expensive
 Print sources quickly outdated
Professional Review Journals Online
 Booklist Online
 School Library Journal
 School Library Monthly
 Teacher Librarian
 Multicultural Review
 VOYA-Voice of Youth Advocates
 Horn Book
Vendors, Jobbers, Publishers, oh my!
 All have online sites
 Some are full service (Follett, Mackin)
 Contain recommended lists
 Correlate titles to state academic
 Recognize they only provide reviews and
other recommendations for titles they
Topical Bibliographies/
Subject Specific Sites
 Booklist themes issues
 Library & education associations
(NSTA’s Outstanding Science Trade Books
lists, ALA’s Great Websites for Kids, etc.)
 Spanish resources - Barahona Center
 Many indexed at the Resources for School
Librarians site under “Selection Tools”
Online Book Stores
 Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc.
 Can be a good source for out-of-print
titles -,
 Can also sell titles through some of
these sites
 NO MARC records, processing, etc.
 May have high shipping fees
Workshop Review
In order to tailor a library collection to
meet the needs of students, teachers,
and the curriculum, can you:
1. evaluate existing library resources
using both collection and usage
2. prioritize subject needs and locate
resources, and
3. create a weeding policy and plan to
revitalize the library collection?
Evaluation and Comments
Be sure to check WebJunction for
more resources on this topic.

Collection Evaluation: Knowing what you have and what …