Recently I had the privilege to work on an in-depth collection development project for a class and I found out two things. One, the collection that I was working on was not really given as much support and truthfully was low priority in the eyes of those in charge. Two, I found it unsettling that there was not a real system put in place for public libraries to take advantage of a free resource like college students. The collection that I was working on just happened to be a multicultural collection and when libraries had more funding it was better kept up. I am aware that budget cuts affect the services that we can offer but my experience made me wonder, as our society grows more global and diverse, is a multicultural collection something that we can let go of or can we have better upkeep of our collections by making use of MLIS students?
The main point of this post is that I wanted to bring awareness to the fact that college MLIS students have tons of projects and activities that we have to do. So why are public and even school libraries not advertising special projects that students can do for class and benefit the library at the same time? I’m not talking about practicums or internships– those focus on getting to know the environment of the library– but rather about a student walking in, seeing that you need collection development done for your 400‘s collection, and then doing the collection development. The student can get the grade, make networking connections, contribute to the community, and gain realistic understanding of a collection that they may one day work with.
I understand that there are rules, requirements and regulations that must be followed but sometimes these rules keep things from being done. In the long run, who gets hurt from the budget cuts, low staff ratio, and decreasing hours? As public libraries we still need to provide the same level of service with less and to do that we really need to capitalize on our resources. I’m aware that there will have to be rules and requirements to making a system like this work, but in the end it could be just like interlibrary loan.
Using my recent collection development assignment I’m going to tell you some benefits to my work. I was able to get the information that I needed, in a fashion, and use it to create my assignment. For the library I was able to look at a collection that has been notable in the past and give suggestions for how to improve it now that financial resources that were available are no longer. I’m a college student and I work full time so I don’t have time for internships or practicums, but I do have time for homework and when homework is part of the community it means more to the student, the university, the library, and everyone involved. The bottom line is there are resources out there and we see the need every day for more and more support: when are you going to get some?
Suggested Reading: Easy Information Sources for ESL, Adult Learners & New Readers by Rosemary Riechel, Neal-Schuman Publisherss, 2009.