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Reviewed by:
  • Rethinking Collection Development and Management ed. by Becky Albitz, Christine Avery, and Diane Zabel
  • Madeline Kelly
Rethinking Collection Development and Management, ed. Becky Albitz, Christine Avery, and Diane Zabel. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited, 2014. 394 pages. $60.00 (ISBN 978-1-61069-305-9)

Collection development and management have changed dramatically over the last twenty-five years. A quick search of the Library Literature & Information Science Index for collection development reveals the rise and demise of collection development paradigms: the decline in articles on book selection; an increase in library cooperation and serial publications; and the appearance of such terms as information resources management. Put simply, collection development has shifted and grown into something more dynamic and challenging than ever.

It is in this context that experienced collections librarians Becky Albitz, Christine Avery, and Diane Zabel present Rethinking Collection Development and Management, an edited volume intended to supplement core collection development works such as Peggy Johnson’s Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management (Chicago: ALA Editions, 3rd ed., 2014). Rethinking Collection Development and Management looks at the ways librarians have pushed beyond the traditional functions of acquiring and managing resources. Contributors include serials, collection development, instruction, metadata, and media librarians, as well as consortia employees, vendor representatives, archivists, professors, and library directors. They work at all levels of the library hierarchy—from technician to dean—and represent public, academic, and special libraries.

Readers will find that Rethinking Collection Development and Management succeeds in its mission to supplement earlier core collection development titles. There is a diversity of voices and viewpoints, and rather than dedicating entire chapters to traditional topics such as evaluation of print resources or writing a collection development policy, the book addresses the current environment libraries face. Rethinking Collection Development and Management is divided into four thematic sections: selection and assessment; acquisitions; access, cooperative efforts, and shared collections; and preservation and special collections. There are chapters on the publishing climate; the current state of traditional tasks such as weeding and assessment; types of materials and their acquisition; developments in access; shared and cooperative efforts; and preservation prospects.

Topics that were mere footnotes in earlier works on collection development, such as demand-driven acquisitions, self-published works, streaming media, the rise of collaborative collections, floating collections (in which items have no permanent home library), and discovery services, now receive the attention they deserve. Ongoing challenges such as e-book management and Big Deals get thoughtful and comprehensive treatment. The interconnectedness of libraries is explored and emphasized in ways that promise an exciting future of collaboration. Rethinking Collection Development and Management also addresses the context of our collections, with chapters on the publishing industry, library staffing, cataloging, and library school curricula. Each chapter includes references, additional readings, and compelling case studies.

Some chapters may seem outrageous or shocking, like chapter 2, which suggests that local-level collection development may be a waste of time, or chapter 20, which proposes discarding the Dewey Decimal System. Others will strike readers as less than innovative or downright repetitive. Nevertheless, even these chapters are [End Page 554] relevant to today’s collection management climate and are well argued and thoroughly researched. Rethinking Collection Development and Management is both scholarly and practical, even at its weakest points, and complements the existing literature nicely.

This collection is both inspiring and overwhelming. As shrinking budgets force librarians to innovate, the variety and complexity of library materials only continue to grow. In Rethinking Collection Development and Management, librarians and administrators will find creative ideas and thoughtful approaches to the many challenges of twenty-first century collection development. [End Page 555]

Madeline Kelly
Head of Collection Development
George Mason University Libraries
Fairfax, Virginia


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 554-555
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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