Nesbitt Memorial Library
Columbus, Texas

Last Updated October 09, 2013
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Collection Development and Maintenance Plan

Adopted February 9, 2006

 

The library has an overall capacity of about 40,000 items. A slight expansion of capacity is possible, but is probably not warranted. In a typical year, the library acquires 1000 to 1500 new items (excluding periodicals). Ultimately, when full capacity in all sections is reached, the same number of items will have to be removed from the collection either through attrition (that is, by loss, theft, or destruction) or through weeding (that is, the voluntary removal of an item from the collection by the staff). Lost, stolen, or destroyed items should be replaced if warranted by circulation or significance. 

Generally, when weeding becomes necessary: (1) duplicate items should be discarded before unique items; (2) items that are commonly available should be discarded before costly and rare items; (3) items in poor condition should be discarded before items in good condition; (4) old items should be discarded before new items; (5) low demand items should be discarded before high demand items; (6) paperback books should be discarded before hardback books; (7) low quality editions should be discarded before high quality editions. Specific rules and considerations for each major section of the library follow.

 Because many items are both essential and very old (for instance, the Bible, the works of Shakespeare), libraries use a median rather than an average to determine the age of their collection. At our present acquisition rate, and with our present capacity, the sustainable median age of the libraryís collection is 12 to 15 years; that is, half of the items in the collection can be newer than that, and half can be older. 

(1) General Reference Collection

Estimated Capacity: 1470
Comfortable Capacity: 1250
Annual Acquisitions: 75 to 100
Cataloging: All items with the prefix R
Selection Tools: (1) Library Journal, Booklist, and other review publications; (2) HALS list of required reference sources.

The reference section contains many items which never become outdated. Examples include books which reproduce or transcribe historic documents, those which provide biographical sketches of long-dead persons, and those which provide critical and biographical data on authors, musicians, artists, and other cultural figures. The library intends to ensure that an ample supply of such books is acquired and maintained. Such books should only be weeded in the most extraordinary circumstances. Every attempt should be made to accommodate them indefinitely. These are among the items which should be acquired as they become available and held in the stacks: Abridged Readersí Guide to Periodical Literature; Current Biography; Historic Documents; British Writers/American Writers Supplements; Chiltonís automobile repair manuals.

The reference section also contains many items which rapidly become outdated. Examples include encyclopedias, almanacs, atlases, and scientific and medical material. Items of this sort should be weeded and replaced before they are six years old. Many should be replaced every year. These are among the items that should be weeded and replaced every year: Chaseís Annual Events; Physicians Desk Reference; Texas State Directory; area city directories and telephone books; Farmerís Almanac; World Almanac; Information Please Almanac; ESPN Information Please Sports Almanac; Texas Almanac. These are among the items that should be weeded and replaced every other year: Petersonís Guide to Four Year Colleges; Lovejoyís College Guide; guide to college scholarships; World Travel Guide; atlas; Hooverís Statistical Abstract of the United States; US Department of Commerce County and City Data Book. These are among the items that should be weeded and replaced every five years: Encyclopedia Americana; Encyclopedia Britannica; World Book Encyclopedia; consumer health encyclopedias; science encyclopedias.

(2) Non Fiction Collection

 Estimated Capacity: 12771
Comfortable Capacity: 10855
Annual Acquisitions: 300 to 350
Cataloguing: items with Dewey decimal numbers only, that is, with no prefix
Selection Tools: (1) Library Journal and Booklist; (2) recommendations from the public, augmented by reviews on the Internet and elsewhere
Note: This section contains works of fiction which are considered to be literature.

The non-fiction section is designed to accommodate about forty years worth of acquisitions. Items in some sections become rapidly outdated; those in others do not. Examples of the former include books on science, medicine, computers, and travel; examples of the latter include books on art, literature, and religion. Items in other sections (for instance, history, geography, sports, mathematics, flora, fauna, geology, collectibles, gardening, cooking) fall somewhere in between. The non-fiction section ought to provide a wide variety of facts, ideas, and interpretations, mixing the modern and the traditional. Its principal object is edification rather than entertainment. Accordingly, circulation should not necessarily be used as a factor in weeding the non-fiction section. The most important factors to consider are the itemís validity, its utility, and its significance to the collection.

Our sustainable median age for the non-fiction collection is about 16 years. Many sections of it should have a much lower median age. For items on medicine and health, the median age should be five years or less. For items on travel and items regarding computers and software, the median age should be two years or less. 

(3) Texas Collection

Estimated Capacity: 5566
Comfortable Capacity: 4732
Annual Acquisitions: 75 to 100
Cataloging: items with the prefix T or TR
Selection tools: (1) Library Journal and Booklist; (2) catalogues of Texas publishers, including the University of Texas Press and Texas A&M University Press, including the members of its consortium (3) recommendations from the public, augmented by reviews on the Internet and elsewhere
Note: This section contains both reference books and circulating titles.

As Texas and local history is a principal focus of the library, and because as much material regarding them as can be found is avidly sought, the Texas collection is not subject to routine weeding. Very occasionally, when it is quite clear that an item has little or no present or long term value, it may be discarded. Though it is seldom used for such now, the archival vault serves as additional storage space for Texas books and raises our capacity to well beyond what might be acquired for the foreseeable future.

(4) General Fiction Collection

Estimated Capacity: 6156
Comfortable Capacity: 5233
Annual Acquisitions: 200 to 250
Cataloging: items with the prefix F or TF
Selection Tools: (1) Library Journal and Booklist; (2) recommendations from the public, augmented by reviews on the Internet and elsewhere 

The library's general fiction section is designed so that we can shelve 20 to 25 years worth of acquisitions. General fiction is distinct from literature. As general fiction books age, they will either be largely forgotten or be admitted into the literary canon. Any book that is more than twenty years old and that seems to stand little or no chance of being regarded as important literature is subject to removal from the collection. Books by authors who are no longer popular might be removed earlier; books by authors who are still popular might be retained longer. Books which achieve the status of literature are recataloged as such (that is, they are given a Dewey decimal number in the 800s) and reshelved in the literature section.

(5) Mass Market Paperbacks

Estimated Capacity: 1400
Comfortable Capacity: 1400
Annual Acquisitions: 0
Cataloging: these items are not cataloged
Selection Tools: none

Mass market paperbacks are not checked out through our regular circulation system. Patrons may take them and bring them back as they please, with no obligations or penalties. Acquisition is by donation only.

(6) Childrenís Collection

Estimated Capacity: 12360
Comfortable Capacity: 10506
Annual Acquisitions: 200 to 250
Cataloging: all items with the prefix J, JF, E, or ER
Selection Tools: (1) Library Journal and Booklist; (2) recommendations from the public, augmented by reviews on the Internet and elsewhere
Notes: This category contains both fiction and non-fiction items.

Childrenís books are, in a sense, timeless. Books which were published many years ago are as popular as new books, making weeding old material unnecessary. Children move through the collection as they age (that is, six year olds read books for six year olds, seven year olds read books for seven year olds, and there are new sets of six and seven year olds every year), meaning that there are new consumers for the same old books every year. Though non-fiction books form a substantial part of the collection, it is not imperative to keep them absolutely up to date via a weeding and replacement program. However, the childrenís section suffers the greatest attrition: childrenís books generally get hard use and are more often ruined or lost than books from other sections of the library. Should acquisitions sufficiently exceed attrition to make weeding necessary, follow the general weeding rules given in the introduction. 

(7) Audiobook Collection

Estimated Capacity: 1512
Comfortable Capacity: 1285
Annual Acquisitions: 50 to 100
Cataloging: items with the prefix BCD or CAS
Selection tools: none 

In this one area, we have found a leasing plan to be the most sensible way of providing material to our patrons. Audiobooks have no reference value. They are especially susceptible to damage or loss. When new, they are rapidly consumed by eager patrons; when old, they languish on the shelves. Though we operate on a leasing plan, we still receive a number of audiobook donations. Normal attrition has kept our collection well within our capacity. Should it become necessary to weed, the decision to keep or remove an audiobook will be based on (a) its age and condition, because magnetic media deteriorate with age and with use, and (b) its circulation, with low circulation titles subject to removal before high circulation titles that are as new and that are in good condition. Generally, audiobooks on cassette tapes should be weeded before audiobooks on compact disks. 

(8) Large Print Books

Estimated Capacity: 540
Comfortable Capacity: 459
Annual Acquisitions: 0
Cataloging: all items with the prefix LP
Selection tools: none

The large print section is devoted almost exclusively to fiction, ranging from formula Westerns, mysteries, and romances to literature and the works of novelists who were popular several years ago. It is geared toward entertainment more than toward edification. In this section, no distinction between general fiction and literature is made. The collection has grown to capacity, and the acquisition rate has been decreased so that it is equal to the attrition rate. We do not routinely acquire items for this section. Should a compelling reason to acquire more titles than the shelves will hold present itself, the older, paperback novels, should be discarded first.

(9) Film Collection

Estimated Capacity: 3000
Comfortable Capacity: 2550
Annual Acquisitions: 150 to 200
Cataloging: all items with the prefix DVD or VID
Selection Tools: (1) Internet Movie Database (imdb.com), which offers reviews by amateurs and a rating, on a scale of one to ten, derived from a public poll. Films which are rated lower than seven in the public poll are excluded from consideration unless there is some other overriding characteristic which makes them desirable to our library; (2) Library Journal and Booklist, primarily for non-fiction titles; (3) Rotten Tomatoes website (rottentomatoes.com), which offers numerous reviews by professional film critics.
Notes: This category includes both fiction and non-fiction items. 

There are three principal goals of the film collection: (1) to provide our patrons access to seminal or otherwise important films from the earliest period of filmmaking to the present day, (2) to provide our patrons access to a wide range of non-fiction films of enduring relevance, (3) to provide our patrons access to films from foreign countries, (4) to provide films for children. Other types of films are added to the collection, though generally only when they are received as donations. In keeping with the first goal, we have made a particular effort to acquire copies of the films that have been admitted to the National Film Registry. Generally, the library views its collection as an adjunct to the material offered in local video stores, and therefore tries to avoid buying the same material they do.

Normally, the library will only purchase films on DVD. The library still has a collection of videotapes and continues to accept videotapes as donations. However, as the DVD collection expands, the videotape collection will be reduced in size. Ultimately, the videotape collection will be completely replaced by the DVD collection. Virtually all weeding should be done from the videotape collection. Normal attrition has kept our collection well within our capacity. Should it become necessary to weed, the decision to keep or remove a videotape will be based on (a) its significance to the goals of the collection as stated above, (b) its age and condition, because magnetic media deteriorate with age and with use, and (c) its circulation, with low circulation titles subject to removal before high circulation titles that are as significant, as new, and that are in good condition.

(10) Music on Compact Disks

Estimated Capacity: 2025
Comfortable Capacity: 1721
Annual Acquisitions: 50 to 100
Cataloging: all items with the prefix CD
Selection Tools: (1) music oriented websites; (2) recommendations from the public, augmented by reviews on the Internet and elsewhere

Our collection of recorded music is intended to provide our patrons with access to a wide variety of music from all centuries and from around the world, but with a considerable emphasis on European and American forms and styles. The collection is historical in nature; that is, no attempt is made to include the most recent music by currently popular performers. When the collection has grown to capacity, the acquisition rate will be decreased so that it is equal to the attrition rate. Should a compelling reason to acquire more items than the shelves will hold present itself, weeding should begin with the items that are the least significant to the collection. Otherwise, follow the relevant general weeding rules.

(11) Graphic Novels

Estimated Capacity: 270
Comfortable Capacity: 230
Annual Acquisitions: 10 to 20
Cataloging: all items with the prefix GN
Selection Tools: (1) Library Journal and Booklist; (2) recommendations from the public, augmented by reviews on the Internet and elsewhere

In 2003, the library began adding graphic novels to its collection. Though these were intended for both adults and young adults, they have been primarily utilized by young adults. Accordingly, we intend to collect graphic novels that do not have salacious or other potentially objectionable content. Presently, the collection is well short of capacity. When the collection has grown to capacity, the acquisition rate will be decreased so that it is equal to the attrition rate. 

(12) Out-of-State Genealogy Collection

Estimated Capacity: 220
Comfortable Capacity: 187
Annual Acquisitions: 0
Cataloging: items with the prefix TRS3
Selection tools: none

 Possibly because of the ready availability of such information on the Internet, the libraryís collection of genealogy books that relate to states outside Texas are now seldom used. Though the library maintains its collection of such books, it no longer purchases them. The out-of-state genealogy collection is shelved adjacent to the Texas Collection. As the latter outgrows its allocated shelf space, the out-of-state genealogy collection should be diminished. 

(13) Periodicals

The library subscribes to at least one daily newspaper and to each of the newspapers produced in Colorado County. Daily newspapers may be discarded one month after publication. Local newspapers are never discarded.

The library subscribes to major magazines and journals related to Texas or Texas history, at least two national news magazines, and other national magazines which might be of interest to its patrons. The library keeps all magazines to which it subscribes for at least one year. Magazines and journals related to Texas are not routinely discarded. National magazines with content that has enduring relevance are subject to discard when they are five years old.