There was a time in history when the grandeur of a library was judged by the size and magnificence of its building or by the number of documents found in its collection. During this period, which lasted for centuries, libraries – specially in North America and Europe rivaled among themselves to surpass each other.
There was also an over-emphasis on the library as a storehouse of knowledge serving the elite or a privileged few, i.e the custodianship and preservation roles of libraries as opposed to facilitating access to information which is now the order of the day.
Some old-fashioned library managers still value library premises and boast of owning the largest collection. Is this relevant to the needs of the 21st century librarianship ? Debating the successful future of the librarian as a bookman or a knowledge worker, Herbert S White categorically stated that “the most useful collection is a small collection which contains everything which is wanted and very little else.”
Indeed, this should inspire us when devising a written collection management policy for our library, bearing in mind emerging concepts such as the borderless and digital library.
In short, a collection which is relevant to the information needs of its user groups, rapid and easy access to it and quality are far more important than merely quantity.
courtesy: White, H.S (2003). The successful future of the librarian: bookman or knowledge worker ? In Australian Academic & Research Libraries, Vol. 34, No. 1