by Lindsey Reno (Acquisitions Librarian, Liaison to Fine Arts, Film Theatre, and Music, University of New Orleans, Early K. Long Library)
Collection development can be one of the most contentious areas of a library. Everyone in the library, as well as patrons and other stakeholders, has an opinion about what a particular library should hold. Librarians and patrons alike can be fiercely protective of library collections. Throw in related issues, like budget cuts and space, and things can get awfully messy. The resulting conflicts are many and various. As information professionals, it is how we deal with those conflicts that really matters. In the following pages, you will find the descriptions of many such conflicts. The librarians who wrote these articles have shared my struggles, and yours, in one way or another. We have all persevered and triumphed in the face of adversity. My inspiration for this issue came from my own experiences attempting to start a leisure reading collection in my library at the University of New Orleans. It took three years of struggle, and countless meetings, to gain approval. Another story that inspired me to put together this issue was that of LOUIS Consortium colleague Megan Lowe, from the University of Louisiana, Monroe, whose description of an extensive weeding project, in “It’s My Deselection Project, I’ll Cry If I Want To,” is sure send shivers down any librarian’s spine. As a voracious reader of dystopian fiction, and a firm believer in the freedom to read, I was disturbed to read about Candace Vance’s encounter with censorship in the library. Her article, “Censorship in the Library: The Dark Side of Dystopia” provides us with the perspectives of both parent and librarian. Her recommendations on how to approach challenges to literature are valuable indeed. Everyone wants to read literature that they can identify with and finding books with characters who mirror ourselves is important. Unfortunately, the challenge of finding multicultural children’s literature can be arduous, as written in Angela Scott Warsinske’s “Missing Multiculturalism.” Collection development and budgets, much to our chagrin, are irrevocably linked. Many, if not most, librarians have had to deal with a budget cut at some point in their careers, but how about a budget cut with a deferment that could be revoked in the future? A group of librarians from the University of North Texas Libraries write about the difficulties of a temporary reprieve from a severe budget cut in “Reversals of Fortune: The New Normal of Collection Development.” The experiences of Christi Piper et al mirrored my own in trying to get buy-in for the aforementioned leisure reading collection. She describes the steps taken to implement a collection of graphic novels in her library and how she was able to get support for this collection. Cristina Caminita and Andrea Hebert describe how they persevered through a massive weeding project full of pitfalls, overly full dumpsters, and resistant staff members. Adjacent to the issues of collection development, and something that is a challenge for many of us, is the idea of collection promotion. What is the best way to let one’s constituencies know about a particular collection, area, or resource in the library? Jennifer Jackson assures librarians that they CAN overcome the problems and anxieties of collection promotion, in her article covering best practices. We also get the Canadian perspective from Michael Shires. Imagine what could happen if most of your resources had to be purchased in a foreign currency! When most resources are priced in American dollars, what can a library do in the face of a weakening Canadian dollar? Find the answers to this, and more, in this issue of Against the Grain!