School librarianship and collection development: an interview with Mona Kerby

A former kindergarten teacher and elementary librarian, Mona Kerby is now Professor of Education and Graduate and Professional Studies Endowed Chair at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. Her passion is collection development, which she puts to expert use in the second edition of An Introduction to Collection Development for School Librarians. In this interview we discuss what's new in the book and how AASL's National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries apply to the discipline.

You’ve been a school librarian and now you’re a professor of school librarianship. Why have you been drawn to focus on the school library collection aspects of the profession?

photo of author Mona KerbyBecause every aspect of our school library profession builds on a quality school library collection. You can’t be a stellar school librarian without access to quality school library materials. But what do I see when I go into school libraries? Aging, dusty materials. Of course, this is partially due to lack of funding. Yet, too many librarians don’t devote enough time to the selection of quality materials. I wanted to write a book that went straight to the point, helping overworked librarians. I identify the key professional selection sources to use, how to evaluate the collection based on the curriculum, and how to weed. Every learner deserves access to quality school library collections. In this book, I help school librarians fulfill this vital mission.

What made you feel that time was right for a second edition of the book?

Several reasons. Since the first edition was published, access to digital resources has increased. The AASL website has been updated with new resources. Also, we now have two new sets of national standards that inform our practices in collection development—the National School Library Standards for Learners, School Librarians, and School Libraries and the upcoming ALA/AASL/CAEP university preparation program standards for school librarians.
book cover for An Introduction to Collection Development for School Librarians, Second EditionWould you talk a little bit about the CREW Method of weeding and how you’ve adapted it for school library collections?

I love the CREW Weeding Manual. Revised and updated in 2012, the manual is available online free as a PDF. But at 107 pages long, the manual covers weeding for all libraries. My mission is to save time for school librarians. To that end, I simplified the process by crafting a one-paged CREW weeding chart.
You’ve pointed out that in the past the emphasis was on building a collection whereas now it’s more about using a collection. What’s changed?
When I first started school librarianship, our national standards focused on building collections. But today, AASL National School Library Standards focus on using collections. To ensure our learners thrive in a digital age, school librarians must teach lessons that help learners successfully meet the six Shared Foundations of Inquire, Include, Collaborate, Curate, Explore, and Engage.

Would you share a few strategies for showcasing a school library collection to learners and stakeholders?

Successful strategies for showcasing a collection encompass digital access, outstanding teaching, and engaging our learners. But we are charting new territory; as a profession, we haven’t comprehensively showcased a collection before. As I go around the country delivering professional development, I’ll be listening and learning from practitioners. In the coming years, I’ll share these stellar strategies.

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