We learn in the library school that the library’s role is to meet the needs of its community. Collection Development depends on the literacy levels of the community. As Mr. Spock used to say in Star Trek, “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. Of course, that was applied in different situations, but works fine in this case too. You will ask me now, why do I point out the obvious. Well, I have a problem with this approach. I am not trying to say that the many should be ignored. I just believe that the few should not be ignored either. I will be more specific. A few years ago, I was trying to find a number of books on specialized topics in the local public libraries and their consortium. I must have found less than the 10% of what I was looking for. I am sure there are others like me who have had the same problem and not only in the area where I live. Seriously, I don’t believe I was asking too much. These books and/or topics should not be the rare or extinct species of the public libraries.
I understand that a lot of libraries have limited funds and their librarians must make tough choices. However, these tough choices can go both ways. For example, instead of using the 95% of the budget allocation for collection development to satisfy the many and only the 5% to satisfy the few, we can use the 70% for the many and the 30% for the few. This is not going to hurt the many and, at the same time, will allow the poor abandoned few to feed their reading and knowledge needs. Yes, I know that circulation will be low for that 30%. However, it may be the time to raise the bar. If we don’t, the community will not raise the bar either. Without raising the bar there is no progress. Without progress there is no species advancement. Finally, without species advancement there is no future. The only chance is to allow the few to pull the many out of the hole. This way, our children will be living in a world characterized, not by mediocrity, but by superior intellectuality.