use the basic concepts and principles related to the creation, evaluation, selection, acquisition, preservation and organization of specific items or collections of information
A strong collection of information resources is one that has been brought together by a defined vision and purpose. Collection management is the development and stewardship of a given set of items and resources, guided by the needs of a group of users and an overarching mission. As such, collection management includes identifying the necessary scope of a collection, acquiring relevant and timely informational resources, and maintaining the condition and organization of those resources. The responsibilities of building a collection to support its users and serving as the caretaker of that collection is the crux of librarianship.
When acquiring items and resources for a collection of informational materials, it is important to utilize selection criteria to ensure that the quality, accuracy, depth, and accessibility of the items are on par with the mission of the organization. Developing these criteria must be based on the needs of its users, as the value of a collection is a measure of how useful its contents are to its intended audience. Collection development criteria should also be employed when assessing items that are already part of a collection. This will ensure that the items still meet the needs of the collection's users, and that they have not been outdated or are no longer useful.
Collection development policies should also support intellectual freedom and never intentionally exhibit a bias or limit the type of information that is available to users. It will also be necessary to consider budgetary concerns and licensing agreements, and to investigate the potential of entering a resource-sharing coalition with other information organizations to maximize resource access and discovery.
The usability of a collection rests heavily on the ability to discover and retrieve its contents. This is why effective and adaptable collection organizational skills are significant to the success of an information professional. We must exhibit savvy and creativity when devising both physical and digital methods of organizing their collections. It will be crucial to make the collection's organization and points of access logical to its users; therefore, it will be important to understand the basic mental models that a user of the collection will likely have, so that access points can be selected and displayed in a manner that will be clear. This may include considerations such as the age of the users, the academic or professional fields they are active in, their educational backgrounds, and the culture of organization in which they will encounter the collection.
An essential responsibility of building a collection is to ensure its safety and longevity: a strong collection will have an equally strong preservation plan. Physical items should be monitored and their condition frequently assessed in order to enable their long-term availability and use. Digital items are also subject to preservation considerations. Familiarity with digital preservation practices becomes exponentially important, as there are many factors that will unquestionably challenge future access. When maintaining a collection of an organization's digital legacy, safeguarding it for the present (i.e. simple backups) must be paired with strategies to maintain access in the future (i.e. file format migrations).
To demonstrate my competency in creating a collection of informational resources by evaluating and selecting specific items, I am submitting work from my course Resources for Children Ages 6-12. Using professional literature, book reviews, and personal investigation, I developed a collection of non-fiction resources about fossils that is catered to the informational needs of the intended audience. It was necessary to consider the varying reading levels of children using the collection, as well as the accuracy and appeal of each item. I describe my selection process beginning on page six of the document, while each selected item is accompanied by a review and description of the characteristics that make it a strong choice for the collection.
To support my competency in organizing a collection, I am submitting a metadata schema that I created for a collection of digitized drawings of birds. During my Seminar in Archives and Record Management, which had a focus on Digitization, I curated a collection of original artwork to create a resource for artists to share and build upon each other's works. The metadata is loosely based upon the Dublin Core schema, and the fields that I chose are intended to provide information about each item that is relevant to an artist looking for images of bird drawings. Some of these fields include the type of Creative Commons license that has been assigned, the original artist, the materials used, and the specific kind of bird shown (when applicable). The fields also include information about the digitization process and the digital image itself. The collection and its metadata were added to a CONTENTdm platform, which enabled the digital collection to be searched, with each metadata field as a live access point. I am submitting a screenshot of the completed metadata for some of the digital images in the collection.
In order to illustrate my abilities in preserving a collection of resources, I am submitting a sample record of the preservation metadata that I created for a digital curation project in my Preservation Management course. This metadata is based on the PREMIS data dictionary, and houses the preservation information of each item in my digital collection. Some of the metadata elements include file format, creation software, rights and ownership information, digital storage location, hardware information, and any preservation actions that have been taken for the digital object. Maintaining this metadata is extremely important to the digital preservation process, as it provides a breadcrumb trail of changes made to the items, as well as a record of the software used in each step of the process. Should a step in the digital preservation process ever need to be backtracked, this metadata is the key to doing so.
To further confirm my aptitude in preservation concepts, I am including a link to a blog post from my blog Digital Preservation for Beginners. In this post, I review a workshop on the preservation of physical film and digital video that I attended. The presenter argued that digitizing physical film is a preferred preservation method because it removes the content from the dangers associated with degrading film quality over time. The majority of the workshop was spent discussing the concepts and challenges of digital video preservation. This included the examination of preferred file formats, hardware storage options, metadata, and user access to video files.
Developing a collection of resources is the act of creating a new resource in itself. Information professionals must make informed decisions about developing and maintaining the collections in their charge in order for them to remain useful resources. With the evidence I have presented, I have demonstrated that I can evaluate and select specific items for a collection, as well as apply appropriate organizational and preservation concepts. The attractiveness of these responsibilities is largely what drew me to this field, and I eagerly look forward to applying my knowledge of these concepts to each collection that I work with in the future.