Hi. I am Kristan Donk, Youth Services Manager of the Garrett Public Library. However, I am here on my own time and in my own professional capacity as a librarian. When this challenge first appeared, I was angry, then I was hurt and after a great deal of thought, decided I had been presented with an opportunity for education. 

Collection development requires two major aspects to be successful. The first is to acknowledge your personal bias; we all have personal bias. Knowing, brushing the edges or flat out doing the reverse of this bias when you select materials is instrumental. We joke that if Suzy had a library it would be all horse books and if I had a library, I’d weed all the cat books and fill it with Mr. Rogers books. We order between 60-70 child print items a month. Each item is researched by myself and my staff, discussions and debates take place, suggestions from the community are encouraged. This process helps to eliminate a great deal the potential bias.

The library needs to be a library for everyone and the whole community we serve.

And that is the second aspect. The collection needs to be developed based on the community it serves. Garrett’s children collection is going to look a lot different that that of Salem MA. We are both going to have Pete the Cat and Curious George. Our history collections are going to differ (pretty sure they have more Paul Revere than we do). You tend to stock your local authors and have them visit, But we select items based on our communities needs.

I selected Harriet Gets Carried Away for our collection. And at the time I did pause because I know non traditional family units can be a hot topic. But it was a great story about being an individual (and penguins) and more importantly, I know a young lady in this community that would identify with the family unit displayed. 

My whole life, if I found a character in a book that I could relate to, I felt so much better about my situation and me as a person. My goal as a librarian is to find a book or books for each and every child that meets their needs so that every child can get that sense of acceptance and feeling good about themselves. At the core that is what collection development is about and why we pick the materials we pick. 

Thank you for your time and your service to the Garrett’s library.