Selection Policy Pet Peeves

It’s March, and we’re at midterm in the spring semester.  That means it’s Selection Policy time in our SLM program at UGA.

As I work with students on this topic every year, I come across several little problems in the way our profession approaches selection policy writing:

  1. Meaningless criteria. What in the heck does “Treatment” mean?  How has that ever helped us make a decision?  I want criteria to specify a positive quality to guide selection.  This one, like several others endlessly reproduced in library science texts, really doesn’t tell us anything!
  2. Every purchase needing two (or more) positive reviews.  This statement is found in policies all over the country. The problem is two-fold: a). many materials are published each year that are never reviewed anywhere, and b). reviewers are not always reviewing with the young reader in mind. Instead, they’re evaluating against some esoteric theory of children’s literature at the expense of what children really like. Therefore, I think we overly restrict ourselves when we insist on published positive reviews. Certainly, reviews are helpful and provide great support in censorship challenges, but our personal previews and other forms of research should count just as highly.
  3. No selection policy at all.  I encourage students to go out and look for active Policies in real settings.  So often, over the years, they have reported “none found!”  If a system policy is in place (the Rules still require this, last time I checked), then the local school should have it handy and specified for any local considerations.

These are not just Georgia problems – they’re everywhere.  Some may think that a Selection Policy is not all that important. Yet, we had the most highly publicized censorship case in the country a couple of years ago – and the national Intellectual Freedom Award was given in honor of this famous case.

What are your pet peeves about selection?  Where does the theory of the professional text books deviate from practical application?   I would love to hear, in order for our students to have the most realistic education.

MaryAnn Fitzgerald, University of Georgia

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Posted on March 5, 2009, in Program administration. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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