There are several ways to initiate a collection development plan. In large school systems, the governing board will usually instruct all units under its charge, including library programs, to develop and present policies and policy plans for approval that explain the operations of their units. In smaller districts the library supervisor or even librarians may have to take the initiative and ask the board to implement a collection development plan. In small single-school districts where there might be only one or two librarians, the initiative for an official policy will likely have to come from the librarians themselves. Such requests will usually go from the librarians to the principals and then up the chain of command to the official governing body.
In some situations an officially approved collection development policy may be difficult to establish. Some board and staff members may see such a policy as fraught with political and social questions that they do not want to raise. If so, it becomes imperative to launch an education and information campaign to explain that such a policy is important because it offers protection and fairness for all parties involved in the selection process, including the staff, students, parents, and members of the community.
Good policy makes good management. A good collection development plan is fundamental to the consistent development of any collection. A good policy document does several things. It states a library’s philosophy and ideas about collections, and it lays down ground rules for the development of those ideals. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of good policy development is that it ensures fairness and protects the rights of individuals to a wide variety of information, resources, and ideas. We live in a diversified world, and clear understanding of that world must be reflected in how we set policies and build collections. Good policies ensure the rights of all to information. At the same time, policies can help us celebrate our differences as well as our commonalities.
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