Collection Evaluation and Report

Anica Teglasi

Introduction

"The evaluation of any library collection, including a school library collection, should be based upon how well the collection serves the needs of it's users. It should also take into account the goals and objectives of the library program." (Bishop, p. 141) This statement made by Bishop is what I have read in all the readings and articles for this theme of collection evaluation. The collection must serve the needs of it's users. At first glance this seems to be a very logical and true statement. However to insure that this is truly happening in my library is not so simplistic. As I work through this assignment I can see, though very important, how time consuming this process can be.

I have presented information and statistics about my library collection as a whole and also for the specific curricular areas that support Science for grade 2.

The specific curricular areas of Science 2 are :

Life Science: Animal Growth and Changes

Physical Science: Properties of Matter

Earth and Space Science: Air, Water and Soil

I have shown statistics for the following dewey decimal sections that are related to the Science 2 objectives:

530- Properties of Matter

533- Air and Water

551- Water cycle

590s-599s- Animals

631- Soil

The data that was collected is from an open-source automated program that a former computer teacher wrote. I myself was not able to create the statistics since I do not have access to the database. The author of the program was able to generate most of the data that I requested. This analysis is based solely on books. The school library does not have any videos, dvds or professional resources despite showing a few in the raw data. These materials are kept in the classrooms or in the staffroom.

There were several readings and methods suggested for doing a collection analysis. I particularly like two fairly similar models, one being from the Franklin article and the other from the B.C. Ministry document.

I found the three steps from Franklin to be very helpful in setting up this assignment.

The three steps are as follows:

1. gather data on the entire collection

2. physically evaluate the collection

3. gather data from teachers and students

Once I had a clear vision for my assignment with Franklin's steps, I used the Ministry's document to fill in the gaps.

These are the major points outlined in this document. For the full detailed version please refer here for the analysis section on pg. 90-91

1. Collection Mapping

2. Checking the collection against IRPs, provincially

Recommended resources, and other district/school collections

3. Checking the collection against other lists

4. Direct examination of the collection

5. Compilation of statistics

6. User opinion

The one area that I did not use was number 3 'Checking the collection against other lists'. I have not been able to find any lists for French resources.


Data



Entire Collection Data

Quantative

Below are two graphs that show how the library collection is divided up. The Entire Library Collection graph shows the large percentage of French and English Fiction compared to the much smaller Non-Fiction collection. The second graph, English and French Non-Fiction Collection, shows how there are substantially more books in the 500s compared to the other Dewey sections. In particular, the 400s section has only 6 books. The small number of books is probably because other than French no other language is taught, so there is no need for a large number books in other languages. I do feel that the 800s section could use more titles since all grade levels require some form of literature books such as poetry or short stories. I also feel that the 200s section should have more titles since we are a Catholic school and all grade levels receive religion instruction.

entire_collection_A.jpgentire_non_fiction_2.jpg


The total number of barcodes is 16826 and 16492 distinct titles. I'm a little surprised by this total. That's a lot of books in such a small space! On the other hand the shelves are so full that I'm not surprised that the number is so high.

The approximate value of the entire collection is $150,000, this number does not, of course, take into account depreciation.

The average age of the collection is 1993.

These are the links to the data reports I received from the author of the automated program, titled Zel. The raw data was sent via email so I have copied the information into a pdf document. To calculate the average age, I had to enter the data into an Excel spreadsheet and make the calculations myself.





Qualitative

From walking around and shelf scanning I can see that overall the school library collection is in good condition. There are a few of the paperback fiction books in English that are falling apart or that have been repaired several times already. These are the popular Geronimo Stilton and Captain Underpants type of books. The non-fiction section is predominantly hardcover books. There are a few book jackets that are torn or coming undone but otherwise the books look good, a little too good! It almost looks like these books have been used very little. I think that most of the books in the non-fiction section were only used by the classroom teachers with the exception of a few sections: arts and crafts, animals and dinosaurs. The shelves in the non-fiction section are very full which makes it difficult to find books and take them off the shelf. The fiction section shelves are not as full and last year I put many of the thin chapter books and series in baskets. This has proven to be very helpful. The non-fiction sections seem to have a mix of newer titles and older titles. I have not found one section stocked full of new books. Most of the fiction books seem to be appealing and not too dated looking.

When observing the patterns of students taking out books I have noticed that the fiction books are the most popular. There are a few students, usually boys, who wander into the non-fiction section. At lunch time when the library is open the most popular section is the English Fiction. The intermediates are always asking me which new books have come in and spend a lot of time reserving the uncatalogued books that I have out on my cataloguing cart.

The non-fiction English and French books are interspersed where as the fiction books are separated. The non-fiction books are not labelled differently by language which makes it confusing for students. There are blue stickers on the spine to indicated that the books are easier and more for primary students.

There are 3 computers that are new to the library. These computers are meant to help students with research or to search for books. However the automated program, Zel, is not user or student-friendly at all.


Science 2 Collection Data

Quantative

The graph below shows the number of books for each of the curricular areas for Science 2. There are 600 books on animals alone! Generally speaking students love animal books and the students have a solid choice of books in this section.

science_2_collection.jpg

The table below shows that most of the books in these sections could use some updating. I am happy to see that the average is not in the eighties at least there are some newer titles in these sections.


Dewey Decimal Section
Average age
530-533.6
1994
551-551.6
1994
590-599.8
1993
631-631.5
1994

Below are the links to the raw Data for Science 2 Collection:







Qualitative

Observations

Books:

530s Matter

There were only 3 books appropriate for grade 2. These are newer books and also the same books that the grade 2 teacher already has in her classroom.

532-533s Air, Water

About half of the books would be appropriate for grade 2. All 6 books were from the early 90s but they had some good information and pictures.

551s Water

There were very few books in this section. All the books were dated and too difficult for grade 2. There were 3 new good books on the water cycle.

590-599

This section has 7 very full shelves on every kind of animal. Many of the books are from the early 1990s with a few newer books. There is one series that is very good for grade 2.

631s Soil

There are only 2 books on soil and one is very good for grade 2 and the other is too difficult and dated.

Students:

The students enjoy looking through the animal books. It is the most popular section. The students can't browse effectively through the books because the shelves are too full and tight. The students depend heavily on me in finding specific non-fiction books. The students don't understand the Dewey Decimal system and don't know how to put the books back on the shelf. They rarely use the markers while searching for books.

Teacher:

The teachers very rarely come up to the library to take out books for the classroom. When they come to do book exchange with their class they will take a few books out. However during this time I am not available to assist them. The most common practice is for the teachers to ask me to pull books. The grade 2 teacher does take out books during the book exchanges but she also asks me to pull books for her.

Overall:

The non-fiction shelves are very full. Many books are too tall and are sideways. The aisles are narrow and cannot accomodate more than 2-3 students at at time. Most of the library patrons are not able to do a proper search to find books. I must be involved in all steps of the process. The shelves are not well labelled.

Teacher Survey Comments:

- Indicated the same frustrations about the full shelves

- Would like to have dvds on curricular topics

- Would like some suggestions for websites

- Feels that there need to be more books for Properties of Matter and AIr, Water and Soil

- Is very satisfied with the animal section

- Her classroom collection has most of the same books as the library does for properties of matter. She would like to see more variety.

Below are the notes I made during my observations and the teacher survey:




Summary



Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths:

- The 590s-599s section has many books and a good selection. There are enough books for an entire class to do research projects which is great for a school of our size.

- Most of the books are in good condition and many are hardcover which tend to last longer.

- The library has a healthy budget of $7000 or $34 per student. This will allow me to purchase new resources to fill in gaps.

Weaknesses:

- It is difficult for students to do a search for books on the automated system. When I typed in keywords like 'eau', 'air', 'sol', the list was very long and many titles were not relevant. It's great to have a wonderful collection of books on a given topic but if teachers and students can't find them then there isn't much point.

- Many of the books are dated and unattractive to students.

- There are very few books for the units on air, water and soil and the properties of matter that are at a good reading level for grade 2.

- There are no videos, dvds or other visual forms of resources.

- There are no First Nations books for Science 2 appropriate for grade 2 students.

- The shelves in the 590s-599s sections are too full. It would be very difficult for a grade 2 student to be able to look through the shelves and find a book.

- Many of the books are not at the appropriate reading level for grade 2.

- We do not have access to any inter-library loans. This puts a lot of pressure on the library to make sure that all curricular resources are available.

- Limited time and staffing to do collection analysis and to purchase materials.

- The English and French fiction books make up 70% of the library collection, this should be more balanced with the non-fiction collection.



Recommendations

- 590s-599s sections needs to be weeded to create more space on the shelves and discard dated books

- Non-print and visual material needs to be purchased such as dvds and videos

- Create a digital library of recommended websites and online videos, perhaps this could be in the form of a wiki.

- Books in the 530s, 551s and 631s need to be purchased. There are not enough books to teach these units.

- Purchase a new automated system for the library so that students may do a proper search and the teacher-librarian can run reports to manage the collection.

- Train parents to help do some aspects of analysis.

- Source out French First Nations books for grade 2 students.

- As much as I would love to create some inter-library loans with other schools in the Catholic system, I don't think this is very realistic at this time.

- Purchase French fiction books to support the Science 2 curriculum

- Once the library is properly labelled, the teacher-librarian must educate students and teachers on how to find books independently

- Increase the overall number of non-fiction books



Reflection

At first, I was very worried about generating statistics for this project. From the main menu of my automated system there is no section for statistics. However, I was able to contact the author of the program and he generated most of the statistics that I requested. When I first started I thought it simply wasn't possible to generate statistics and that was it. Now that I know that I can get some statistics, I'm thrilled. However it seems to be quite tedious for the author of the program to generate these statistics. They are in raw form and calculations need to be made afterwards to get a clear picture. Also there were some errors in data entry while cataloguing and this also proved to be quite a problem in generating information. At least I can get some form of data to help with improving the library collection in the future. Otherwise I will not be able to see if the library collection is meeting the collection development goals. (Agee p. 92)

When I first started as a teacher-librarian I was prepared to rely solely on qualitative data collection since I thought I couldn’t generate any data from the program. I thought that would be enough. However in doing this project, I have come to value quantative data. Even though it took a lot of time to get the information and then to do the calculations, there was some interesting information that I would not have noticed only through qualitative data collection. Bishop mentions the importance of having two or more methods of evaluating to obtain meaningful results. (p. 175) I found the average age and number of titles in each Dewey section to be the most informative. It is very clear where the gaps are and which section needs some refreshing. It would have taken too long to get this information manually.

The qualitative data that I did collect allowed me to get a real sense of the state of the books. I tried to put myself in the students’ shoes to see how the books can be accessed. This has helped to get a better sense of what needs to be done in the non-fiction section. The first step is to weed and free up some space on the shelves. Also, at the beginning of my assignment I thought I couldn’t get any quantative data so I did as Bishop suggested and chose a sample of books from each section to help me calculate the average age. (p.147) I was not far from the average age the program generated. I had estimated the average age to be the early 1990s. The average age was 1993-1994. I feel that Agee explains well the importance of qualitative data, “physical assessment requires human labor, but allows judgment of both physical characteristics, such as binding and overall condition, and content. Physical evaluation of a collection gives librarians an opportunity to develop an overall awareness of the collection. They discover the relationship between age and condition of the collection and have the opportunity to compare user demand with available resources.” (p.93) I also found speaking to the grade 2 teacher helpful and important. It was nice to take the time to speak with her regarding the books that are essential to her Science program. She seemed happy that I was taking the time to discuss her issues and needs.

Another big red flag that popped up through observation was the need to teach the students and teachers how to find books. I need to finish labelling the library in an effective way and to demonstrate how to use the OPAC until we purchase a new one. Students need to feel that they are capable of doing most of their research projects on their own.


Bishop outlined five barriers to evaluation. All five of these barriers are present in my library: finding reasons for putting off evaluation; lack of staff time; lack of experience about collecting data; fear of the results; uncertainty about what to do with results. (p. 143) I have also come across another barrier, my non-user-friendly automated system. I used to think that I could manage with it but it’s very important that I have a new program as soon as possible. I was a little relieved to see that others in our class were also having problems generating data. When choosing a new program, I will have to ensure that the collection evaluation process is user-friendly and useful. At least if my program generated MARC records, I could have exported the data to Titlewise and attained some data in a simpler way.

As stressful and as time consuming as this assignment was I see that I learned a lot! With a little practice and with a good automated system, collection analysis could become quite painless. “Library media specialists who constantly evaluate the collection, both formally and informally, survey teachers and students, and keep abreast of standards and curriculum, can build a collection that meets the needs of all users.” (Franklin p. 45) I look forward to this becoming reality! :)



References

Agee, J. (2005). Collection evaluation: a foundation for collection development. Collection Building, 24(3), 92-95.

B.C. Ministry of Education's Evaluating, selecting, and managing learning resources: A guide (2002)

Bishop, K. (2007). The collection program in schools: Concepts, practices, and information sources. (4th ed.). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Franklin, P., and Stephens, C.G. (2009). Use Standards to Draw Curriculum Maps. School Library Media Activities Monthly, 25(9), 44-5.