Collection Development Training (CDT) for Arizona Public Libraries

Collection Development Training (CDT) provides practical training in how to perform collection development activities in public libraries. Each activity is presented as a separate section with links to helpful Internet sites, lists of books and articles for further reading, and definitions of key terms. While this training may be useful to librarians in a variety of libraries, this site is intended primarily for librarians and other library staff working in Arizona's small and rural public libraries. CDT is sponsored by the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State.

Introduction  | Purpose of this site  |  Contents of this site  |  How to Best Use This Site  |  Sponsors and Creators  |  Further Information  |  Self-Assessment #1


All libraries face complex challenges in identifying, acquiring, and managing appropriate information resources. Traditional formats and ever more technologically interesting information sources are expected by patrons in communities of all sizes. Small and rural public libraries have always faced unique challenges in this arena. Such challenges include:

  • Limited budgets for materials, licenses, and equipment;
  • Limited staffs (sometimes only one person performs all library functions);
  • Too many inappropriate and unsolicited gifts;
  • Limited space for print material and limited computers for electronic access;
  • Time constraints; and,
  • Limited opportunities for library training and education within easy access.

In addition to these traditional issues, the changes in formats, market models, and technological tools have further exacerbated these challenges and are making collection development even more complex. To address the collection development training needs of Arizona’s small and rural libraries, we first created the Collection Development Training for Arizona Libraries (CDT) site almost ten years ago. This revised site, sponsored by the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, now provides the following types of information on each major aspect of collection development or information resource management:

  • Theoretical principles regarding information resource issues;
  • Practical training in how to perform collection development activities in public libraries;
  • Additional information sources such as links to helpful Internet sites and lists of articles and books for further reading;
  • Definitions of key terms; and,
  • Self-assessment exercises for individuals to evaluate their knowledge and understanding.

Purpose of this site

This training site is specifically designed for librarians and other library staff in public libraries in Arizona who are new to collection development or who wish to refresh their knowledge about a particular aspect of collection development. The aim is to provide practical collection development training that is useful for small and rural public libraries, but this training site can be of use to anyone working in a small library or information center in any state including those in school-public combined libraries and small school libraries. This site is not intended for those working in large libraries since many of the collection development processes and examples would not be relevant to their needs. Although the information management principles remain the same, the scale of the work and the division of labor is often quite different.

Contents of This Site

This site provides training on many aspects of the information management process. The training information was drawn from the experience of rural public librarians as well as from the expertise of trainers who regularly work with rural libraries. References to library literature and Internet sites of potential usefulness are included for those interested in acquiring further knowledge on a given topic. These references include articles, books, forms, tools, and other resources of current relevance to the collection development needs of smaller public libraries. A basic collection development glossary is included as the final section of this site to assist you in making the terminology of collection development your own. In addition to providing information and identifying useful resources, this site includes self-evaluation segments to enable you to test your mastery of the concepts, terms, and processes related to each aspect of collection development. This training site presents segments on the major topics listed below along with the opportunity for you to periodically assess your learning through an online quiz.

  • Overview of Collection Development: Discusses the collection development or information resource management process and provides a brief introduction to the components of the process.
  • Selection Philosophy & Principles: Discusses the general considerations and criteria that guide the selection process and provides a summary of the types of tools that aid the selection process.
  • Selection – Books: Provides specifics about the tools and processes related to selecting and managing books in both electronic and print formats.
  • Selection – Audiovisual Materials: Provides specifics about formats and special challenges related to changing technologies, sound recordings, motion pictures, maps, and electronic games in particular.
  • Selection – Periodicals & Newspapers: Provides specifics about tools and processes as well as the special challenges related to selecting and managing these formats.
  • Selection – Electronic & Internet Resources: Provides specifics about the tools and processes related to selecting and managing electronic information, both purchased and freely available.
  • Selection – Government Documents: Although small libraries do not select many government documents, this section provides background and information about print and electronic documents, with special attention to local governmental documents.
  • Special Collections – Defining and Managing Them: The rationale and definitions of special collections along with the pros and cons for them are intended to help you understand the importance of clarity for these areas of collection development.
  • Acquisitions: Outlines the basic process for selecting the business source from which to acquire a variety of types of information resources as well as addressing issues related to efficient processes, discounts, contracts, vendor evaluation, and problem resolution in today’s complex environment.
  • Gifts: Discusses the principles related to donations and provides examples of simple processes to ensure timely response to donors and the efficient handling of gift materials.
  • Weeding: Provides information on the reasons for deselection, provides examples of criteria you might use to determine which materials to weed from your physical and virtual collections, and gives some practical advice about things to consider help make weeding a routine library operation.
  • Preservation: Provides basic information about the common preservation problems faced in a small library and identifies techniques used to handle these problems.
  • Intellectual Freedom: Considers intellectual freedom issues related to collection development and provides practical tips on how to be prepared to handle challenges in the most professional manner.
  • Collection Assessment: Discusses the concept of collection mapping using a variety of methods for assessing a library’s collection strengths and weaknesses and then presents some examples of how to use and communicate this information as a tool to aid in assuring best practices and adequate funding.
  • Role of Strategic Plan & Selected Service Responses To Meet Community Needs: Explains the important role the planning process and the resulting strategic plan, along with service responses selected to meet the identified needs of your community, is the primary justification for the allocation of resources for collection development.
  • About Collection Development Policies: Identifies the important general components of a collection development policy with examples from policies and offers suggestions for how to write a policy for your library.
  • Collection Development Policy Component I: An outline and explanation of the types of information that serve to provide the introductory material for a collection development policy are provided here.
  • Collection Development Policy Component II: Here are discussed the heart of the collection development policy including selection, acquisition, weeding, gifts, preservation, and Intellectual Freedom.
  • Collection Development Policy Components III, IV, V: The final pieces of the collection development policy including the identification of collection goals, the definition of format collections, and the practical adoption and revision of the policy are explained in this section.
  • Some Issues Related to Collection Development: Although many would think that at this point we will have covered all that might influence collection development, this section serves as an opportunity to mention a number of other areas of library operations that also influence the out-comes of collection development efforts.

How to Best Use This Site

Collection development is a non-linear process that is made up of interrelated components. While there is an implied sequence to selecting an item for purchase, acquiring an item, and eventually weeding an item, these processes often occur simultaneously rather than one at a time. Thus, depending on your training needs, you can use the site in a variety of ways.

  • If you want to learn about collection development AND receive credit toward the Western Council of State Libraries (WCSL) Library Practitioner Certificate, you may apply this tutorial to your track. If you work in an Arizona library and are pursuing the WCSL Library Practitioner Certificate, you may use the completed quizzes to satisfy 3 contact hours of the collection development competency. If you wish to find out more, please contact the Arizona State Library’s Continuing Education Coordinator.
  • If you want to learn about the entire collection development process, you can read through the site systematically; this will be almost like taking a hands-on class covering every aspect of collection development.
  • If you are interested in a particular aspect of collection development, you can go directly to that section and review the content, vocabulary, and appropriate resources to further your understanding.
  • If you want to skip around to the parts that interest you, cross-references to related information internal to our training web site as provided, as well as the links to other Internet resources for each topic.
  • If you want to learn more about any of the topics in our site, you can refer to the additional resources listed for your convenience within each subject section and under the heading “Further information” at the end of each section. While it is not necessary to pursue these additional resources, it is hoped that some of these resources may be of value to you in your particular situation.

Warning: Regardless of how you choose to use this site, please be aware that while every effort has been made to link to stable Internet sites, things change. Websites disappear, move, and change their focus. We apologize in advance if a link does not work. We trust that your own library and search engine skills will enable you to locate the information you wish in some other manner.

Sponsors and Creators

  • The Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records funds this site with the goal of meeting the collection development training needs of Arizona’s small and rural public libraries. This project was updated in 2006, ten years after the original website was launched.
  • The principal investigator for the original project in 1996 was Dr. Sandra G. Hirsh, a former faculty member at the University of Arizona’s School of Information Resources and Library Science.
  • Three research assistants contributed greatly to the initial project; their names are Rosemary Streatfeild, Elizabeth Cuckow Thorson, and Shawn Crosby.
  • Jan Elliott, former Public Library Development Consultant at the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records updated this site in 2003.
  • Dr. Mary B. Bushing, Library Consultant and Educator, rewrote and updated the content and designed the self-assessment tools throughout this present version.

For Further Information

If you have questions related to collection development in general, a good way to get answers is to join listservs and pose your questions to those working in the library and information professions. The following are suggestions for finding appropriate lists for information resource discussions.

  • Many state libraries host discussion lists for the exchange of library information among the staff members in libraries. Contact your state library to find our about the available listservs sponsored by them.
  • Some state library associations also sponsor listservs to assist their members in communicating with others who share library interests such as collection development, interlibrary loan, technical services, and administration. Contact your state library association to learn about listservs they might sponsor for their members.
  • Join COLLDV-L, a national listserv devoted entirely to collection development issues. Many of the participants work in academic libraries, but there may be information of value to smaller libraries as well. To join the list, send an email to: [email protected]. In the body of the message include: subscribe COLLDV-L (your name). Leave the subject line blank and do not include your signature block.
  • The American Library Association (ALA) maintains a Collection Development site which has links to many collection topics that might be of interest. Other areas on the ALA site also have collection related topics. Some of these resources will be included in more specific sections of this training site. You do not have to be a member of ALA to use these resources.
  • Arizona is one of twelve member states of the Mountain Plains Library Association (MPLA) which also sponsors electronic communities (listservs) for members interested in particular areas of library operations including collection development.
  • Another source of good collection development ideas, great discussion from the trenches, and very practical comments and experiences from others working in real libraries, is Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki. As a wiki, the material here is not evaluated except by those who read it and sometimes respond to it. There is an excellent introduction, guidelines, and an opportunity to register as a member (strictly for management purposes and to eliminate spam sent to the site).
  • If you have questions or comments about the CDT site, please email us.


At the end of each unit of this website, you will find a link to a self-assessment quiz. The quiz may be taken to help review and confirm what you have learned. If you work in an Arizona library and are pursuing the Western Council of State Libraries Library Practitioner Certificate, you may use the completed course to satisfy 3 contact hours of the collection development competency. If you wish to find out more, please contact the Arizona State Library’s Continuing Education Coordinator.

Take Self Assessment Quiz #1

Overview of Collection Development >>