Guiding Our Growth with a Collection Development Policy

Last year, the Poetry Center's library team researched, wrote, and approved our first-ever Collection Development Policy. When librarians talk about collection development, we mean the processes by which materials are identified, selected, and added to a library collection, as well as how the collection is managed over time. The Poetry Center's Collection Development Policy describes the collection development practices we have followed throughout our history and guides the future growth of our special collection of contemporary poetry.

Collection development policies are especially important for special collections libraries like the Poetry Center for one simple reason: we do not “weed” our collection to make room for new material. We keep everything we catalog in perpetuity: once a book  or journal hits our shelves, it’s here forever. At the same time, shelf space is finite. That means that the Poetry Center Library must define its scope very precisely in order to manage our space and focus our collections for the future. Our Collection Development Policy provides us with just such a detailed definition, outlining the types of materials we collect as well as the comprehensiveness of our collecting for each type of material.  (For example, we collect contemporary poetry more comprehensively than poetry criticism.)

Over the past fifty-seven years, the Poetry Center’s library collection has grown from a few hundred books to fifty thousand volumes! Our Collection Development Policy honors the everyday decision-making that went into this achievement, and it provides us with a frame of reference as we continue to grow and tend this remarkable collection.