My name is Elizabeth von Nagy, and I’m here to talk with you about collection development. I’m in my 7th year of School Librarianship and over the course of my career, I’ve served three buildings. I spent my first three years splitting my time between two elementary schools and I’ve enjoyed the last three years at a high school in the Omaha Metro area.
Before the publication of the CREW/MUSTIE model, many Collection Management texts examined had little to say specifically about weeding libraries. Johnson wrote in the 2018 title Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management that an “early report from the Lynn Public Library in Massachusetts noted that 295 books were withdrawn in 1887 because they were worn out or duplicates” (p. 198). The same volume also stated when “A weeding plan proposed to address the overflowing Quincy Public Library [it] caused a major flap at the ALA 1893 annual meeting” (Johnson, 2013, p. 198). It appears that collection management has always been an undertaking. Other Collection Management models share obvious similarities. One 2014 text titled Rethinking Collection Development and Management by Albitz, Avery, Zabel recommends a shelf review, usage review, alternate availability review, replacement review, and final review as a system to manage collections, which shares many similarities with CREW/MUSTIE (pp. 69-70). Yet another title, Crash Course in Collection Development, written by Disher in 2007, recommends librarians use CREW, plus a “space and balance” assessment, which focuses on ensuring that multiple viewpoints and perspectives are present in a collection (p. 129). I felt that in the marathon that our profession has been running, collection management lagged behind. All of these models are missing a crucial element: how will these appeal to our learners’ personal preferences, personalities and the fluidity of their needs? Additionally, I noticed that our patrons and the way they consume media has changed, so I wondered if the way we as librarians manage and develop collections could be changed to better meet the needs of our patrons. OCEAN can help you by:
Meet the Big Five--our framework. Lewis Goldberg developed the Big Five Primary Factors of Personality and their bipolar markers in his 1990 study “An alternative “description of personality”: The Big-Five factor structure” and it has been used in research across the globe to study media and genre appeal based on personality types. The results from the research examined are generally consistent--that personality plays a large role in what patrons choose to read, watch, or consume. Therefore, School Librarians can consider applying the same method by which personality is measured and the science behind genre appeal to books and materials in their collections. Such an examination would allow School Librarians to see collections as they may or may not appeal to Learners.
The Big Five, which can be remembered by the acronym OCEAN, will shed light on holes, areas of concentration, and areas of need in collections. Each of these five factors is defined with bipolar markers. Bipolar markers are descriptive adjectives, identified in Goldberg’s 1990 lexical study. Each factor lives on a spectrum and each spectrum is identified on it’s poles by those previously identified adjectives. This works well for pairing media to learners while really focusing on the needs of the learner in that moment. We’ll spend some time learning about each of the five factors before applying them to books and media.
Openness to Experience, also known as culture or intellect, is the first of the five factors of OCEAN. Each factor lays on its own spectrum, with indicators on either end. Goldberg’s 1990 lexical study worked to define sets of trait terms, or bipolar markers, for each of the Big Five. Words like “knowledge,” “originality,” and “wisdom” are on the, for our purposes, “positive” end of the spectrum. The “negative” end of Openness to Experience can be defined with words like, “imperceptivity,” “simple,” and “ignorant.” A 2004 study by Kraaykap and van Eijck hypothesized that "openness to experience will have a positive effect on all serious, exciting, or unconventional types of media use and a negative effect on the use of popular, predictable books or television programs” (p. 1677). In the library, a person that falls on the positive end of openness to experience would be inclined to gravitate toward daring fiction, nonfiction, and makerspace items. A person that falls on the negative end would dislike mainstream medias and predictable plotlines.
Conscientiousness, or dependability, is defined on the positive by words like “religiosity,” “thrift,” and “grace.” Rebelliousness, inconsistency, and negligence define the negative end of this spectrum. A person that falls positively on this spectrum might prefer predictable, structured, and popular items like easy readers or books with a set plot line or other writing devices. This person might dislike heavy reading, like the classics, and eBooks.
Extraversion’s markers range from “spirit,” and “spontaneity” on the positive end and “pessimism” or “modesty” on the negative end. Kraaykamp and van Eijck hypothesized in their 2004 study that “extraversion will have a negative effect on book reading and watching popular, predictable television programs, and a positive effect on outdoor cultural participation and watching serious or exciting (e.g. action movies or erotic programs) television programs” (2004, p. 1677) Patrons that fall on the negative end of this spectrum may be reluctant readers, but may especially dislike the mainstream. Patrons that fall on the positive end of this spectrum may enjoy adventurous books and materials that are emotionally charged.
Agreeableness, also known as friendliness, is the fourth factor. It’s bipolar markers are “trust,” and “tolerance,” on the positive end and “vindictiveness,” or “criticism,” on the negative end. A person that falls on the positive end of this spectrum might love materials that allow for interactivity, like choose-your-own-adventure books, Spheros, database articles with read-aloud features, and eBooks that let the user click on pictures or other links. A patron that falls on the negative end of Agreeableness might gravitate toward materials with more serious topics or that are unconventional.
The last factor in the big five is neuroticism, also referred to as emotional stability. Our positive markers here are “poise,” “self-reliance,” and “durability,” while our negative markers are “anxiety,” “timidity” and “insecurity.” A student that places positively on this spectrum might enjoy how-to books or culturally relevant or popular materials. Someone that places negatively on this spectrum might enjoy materials that are easy to digest or that they can access without assistance, like eMaterials, because those feel more anonymous.
Remember, just like our needs, wants, and preferences fluctuate, books and library materials’ purpose can shift to meet our needs. We all live on a spectrum, and so do our books. When pairing learners with resources, it is vital that librarians use what we know about the patron in that moment to pair them with the best resource. Ask yourself: What do you do when a learner comes to you and says, “I need a good book”? OCEAN can be used to guide the conversation when determining which material may be a best match for that patron. In addition to tucking the Big Five into your patron-material-matching toolbelt, you can use it to guide collection development decisions. It may be that by visualizing your collection as a group of people, each with their own unique personalities, sheds light on holes or areas of hypersaturation in your collection. Using OCEAN to drive decisions about which books to weed and how they may or may not appeal to patrons might better inform your decision. Whether you are making an attempt to more deeply understand your collection or asking yourself how to better match patrons and materials, the Big Five can help you make an informed and balanced choice.
Albitz, B., Avery, C., & Zabel, D. (2014). Rethinking collection development and management. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.
Crysel, L. C., Cook, C. L., Schember, T. O., & Webster, G. D., (2015). Harry Potter and the measures of personality: Extraverted Gryffindors, agreeable Hufflepuffs, clever Ravenclaws, and manipulative Slytherins. Personality and Individual Differences, 83, 174-179. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2015.04.016
Disher, W. (2007). Crash course in collection development. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.
Goldberg, L. R., (1990). An alternative “description of personality”: The Big-Five factor structure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59(6), 1216–1229. https://doi-org.leo.lib.unomaha.edu/10.1037/0022-35188.8.131.526
Johnson, P. (2018). Fundamentals of collection development and management. Chicago, IL: ALA Editions.
Kraaykamp, G., van Eijck, K., (2004). Personality, media preferences, and cultural participation. Personality and Individual Differences, 38, 1676-1688. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2004.11.002
Larson, J., (2012). CREW: A Weeding manual for modern libraries [PDF File]. Retrieved from https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/pubs/crew/index.html
Rentfrow, P. J., Goldberg, L. R., & Zilca, R. (2011). Listening, watching, and reading: The structure and correlates of entertainment preferences. Journal of Personality, 79(2), 223–258. https://doi-org.leo.lib.unomaha.edu/10.1111/j.1467-6494.2010.00662.x
Tirre, W. C., & Dixit, S. (1995). Reading interests: Their dimensionality and correlation with personality and cognitive factors. Personality and Individual Differences, 18(6), 731–738. https://doi-org.leo.lib.unomaha.edu/10.1016/0191-8869(94)00211-A
Featuring the school libraries of Nebraska and their high-quality School Librarians