Diverse communities: library collections

Pez! By Katey. Used with permission under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Pez! By Katey. Used with permission under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Just as library services have to keep pace with their community’s needs, so too does the collection. What sort of collection policies are in place at your library to ensure access to the material from a wide range of users? In a public library setting this could mean providing different collections such as:

  • community language,
  • specialist young adult,
  • local history collection; or
  • large print collection for older readers or the visually impaired.

IFLA has guidelines for including braille into collections and the Library of Congress has information on both braille and audio book options for collections, including foreign language material. In 2014, the School Library Journal published a special edition devoted to diversity and many of these articles focus on ensuring a representative collection to meet student needs.

Perhaps if you work in an academic library you have wrestled with the problem of whether to provide material in foreign languages, or only in the language of instruction at your institution. Does your academic library provide leisure reading material to cater for students who may be living on campus? Are video materials subtitled to allow access by the deaf community?

What sort of collection decisions have you made or have noticed at your local library? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or on twitter using #interlibnet and #diversity to help us track and share the conversation.


Posted in Discussion topics, Round 2015B and tagged , , , , .


  1. Having only ever worked in small rural public libraries in Australia, the most obvious specific type of collection I have encountered is the Local History collection. These contain materials specific to the library’s town and region, and are not for loan but can be readily accessed and used within the library; in many cases, there are duplicate copies available for loan in the general collection also.

    Interestingly, I find it is most often newcomers to the district who access these materials so that they can learn more about their new community.

    • Thanks Melanie, I think many public libraries would have the same experience – local history collections are a great way to access information about a community – Clare

  2. I agree. We have a local history collection in both of our small libraries and they are really appreciated by folk who may have grown up here and moved away or had relatives who lived here. A lot of people interested in genealogy come armed with their notebooks and pens as they scour the books for that little piece of information.

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