Consulting the community : how customers' needs are reflected in public library collection development policies
This study is an investigation into the methods of community consultation that are undertaken by a sample of New Zealand public library managers during the formulation and application of their libraries' collection development policies. The gathering of information about the needs and wants of customers helps ensure that the public library is practicing responsive collection development. A qualitative methodology is used, consisting of in-depth interviews with a sample of library managers from medium-sized, non-metropolitan public libraries in the lower North Island of New Zealand. Discussion during the interviews centres upon the participants' use of community needs analysis techniques; both "direct" community consultative methods, and "indirect" data analysis methods. The role that formal collection development policies play in the participants' institutions is discussed, together with the relative importance of informal collection development policies, practices and procedures. The study's findings reveal that the process of collection development policy formulation is less well-structured than that described in the literature, and that informal policies, practices and procedures are used to inform day-to-day collection management activities. The application of community consultative techniques by the study participants is less well-developed than descriptions of its use in the international literature.