Collection Management for Bibliophiles

At the moment, I’m working on an assignment comparing the collection development policies of two libraries (an academic library and a public library). Since my personal library is gigantic and beginning to leak out of the den into the rest of the house, I decided it’s time to write my own collection development policy. Boiled down to basics, here’s what I came up with:


For the reference use, edification, and entertainment of Ms. HBT.

Major Collections

  • Short Stories (DDC 800)
  • Technology (DDC 000, 300, 600)
  • Science (DDC 500)
  • Writing Reference (DDC 000, 800)
  • Libraries and Information (DDC 000)

Minor Collections

  • Music (DDC 700)
  • Graphic Novels (DDC 700)
  • Art and Large-Format Materials (DDC 700)
  • Poetry (DDC 800)
  • Novels (DDC 800)
  • Fashion (DDC 300, 700)
  • History and Society (DDC 900, 300)
  • Philosophy, Psychology, and Religion (DDC 100-200)
  • Books in French (400)


  • If I have a special connection with the author, subject matter, or individual work: keep it.
  • If I want to read it but not necessarily to own it: keep it on the “for now” shelves. Make it a priority to read these items and then get rid of them.
  • If I’ve read it and not adored it, or not read it but it’s easy to check out of the library, or not read it and not sure why I bought it in the first place: DESELECT!


Since I quit working at the bookstore, my acquisitions have tapered off significantly. Recent additions to the collection include: Murakami’s Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage and The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig. I’ve purchased two books in the last month. Contrast that with the two books per shift I’d purchase when I worked at the bookstore. [I can’t be trusted with a debit card and a shipment of new books.]

Going forward, additions to my collection should be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Certain authors are required reading, e.g., Karen Russell, Chris Adrian, Phillippe Claudel, Fred Vargas.
  • New-to-me authors whose work has been highly recommended by those whose reading tastes are similar to mine may be added to the collection.
  • Materials needed to enhance my work should be purchased as needed, including literary journals and library-related materials both practical and theoretical.
  • Occasional imprudent purchases are fine — sparingly.

Using my new collection management policy, I have so far weeded more than 150 items from my library. Next up, I need to determine what to do with them: sell, donate, or some combination of the two.

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