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Janet Yarn

SLM 506
April 13,2010
Laurel Woods ES Collection Evaluation

As part of the 4th grade reading curriculum students read a biography. This meets the
state curriculum standard 1a “Listen to critically, read, and discuss a variety of literary
texts representing diverse cultures, perspectives, ethnicities, and time periods.” It also
meets standard 3a, “Identify and distinguish among types of narrative texts such as
stories, folk tales, realistic fiction, historical fiction, fables, fairy tales, fantasy, and
biographies.” In addition for grades 3-5, as part of the Library Media Curriculum
standards, students are to identify different genres including biographies. Therefore the
biography section of the school library collection is a viable part of the student
The purpose of this analysis is to evaluate the current biography section to see if it meets
the diverse ethnicity of our patrons and to gauge the over-all age of the books. Further
analysis may be needed to determine if the age of the collection is affecting the accuracy
of the information provided.

Mini-Collection Map
The first assessment technique I used was a mini-map of the entire collection. The mini-
map identifies the numbers of books we have in each of the nonfiction Dewey areas as
well as our fiction, audio visual, and professional library. For the purposes of this
evaluation I will focus on the nonfiction Dewey areas. Overall, our collection does meet
many of the suggested book percentages based on the chart in Administering the School
Library Media Center. (See nonfiction comparison chart) Based on this chart, our 900
section is on track at 20% of our nonfiction collection. Included in the 900 section is the
biography, autobiography, and biography collections which make up 10% of our
collection. However the average age of our nonfiction collection is 11 to 15 years old.
The age of the collection can have an impact on the accuracy of information provided. In
addition the presentation of nonfiction print has evolved over the past 10 years to include
more illustrations, captions, subtitles and text features to help the reader better understand
the text. Since the focus of this analysis is on the biography section, this led to my next
Collection-Centered Map- Age Analysis
By isolating the 920 and 921 sections, I could assess the number of books available and
the average age of this section. Overall there are 748 books available of which 148 are
collective biographies. Within the 748 books 77% of them are more than 11 years old.
Therefore current biographies are narrowed down to 14% of our collection being in the
past 10 years and only 7% in the
past 5 years. (see age analysis
chart) This allows 162 current
books available to our student
population of 560. If this
section was limited to the 3rd,
4th, and 5th grade students that
would narrow down the student
body to 320 students. Based on
the age analysis I would
recommend that we weed out
50% of the collection based on
the books that are more than 15
years old. This would leave 374
books in the collection. This
would allow room for growth.
To choose books that would
best fit the diverse needs of our
population a user centered
evaluation based on ethnicity
would be the next assessment.
User-Centered Map- Ethnicity of Collection
The Laurel Woods community encompasses many different ethnic groups. A biography
collection should meet the diversity of its users. The 4 main ethnic groups represented in
our student population are African American, Hispanic, White, and Asian. By
categorizing each book based on the ethnicity of the subject we find that our biography
collection is fairly well dispersed among the 4 ethnicities.
Although it may appear that the biography books pertaining to the white ethnic group are
higher in number we have to take into account that much of our early American History
figures were predominantly white which does account for many of the books in this
ethnicity. Also it is noted that our Asian and Hispanic groups are not well represented in
the biography section. Since it was recommended earlier that 50% of the biography
collection be weeded it would be beneficial to note the age of the collection based on
ethnicity of the subjects.

From the data collected we see that 75% or more of the books for each ethnic grouping is
more than 11 years old. The African American grouping shows the most positive data
with 10% of the collection being within the past 5 years and 15% of the collection in the
past 10 years. The collection represented some well-known sports stars such as Michael
Jordan and current information on our President Barak Obama. The oldest books in the
collection represented our past presidents and notable historical scientists such as Louis
Pasteur. Although the information in the books is most likely accurate the appeal of the
book is very outdated. In regards to the age of Asian biography books they are grossly
out dated in the collection with the Hispanic books coming in closely behind. It is my
recommendation that when weeding the collection we take note of books weeded by
ethnicity and replace 25% of the collection with more current subjects and book appeal.
It should also be noted that as a school we have access to an online database, SIRS
Discover, which has a database of over 1000 biographies available to students. However
these biographies are only accessible online and therefore students would need to have
access to a computer lab. There is an access code for at home use but currently only 75%
of our students have online access at home. We also have home and school access to
Worldbook Online which also has short biographies available. This site also provides
audio for all their online entries that will help to engage the lower reader or students with
special needs.

Based on the current data, it is my recommendation that we weed 50% of the biography
collection based on copyright date, accuracy of information, and appeal of the book.
Within that 50% we keep track of which ethnic group the biography subject effects and
take that into consideration when ordering.
Based on the “Age of Biographies by Ethnicity” chart, I recommend that we

• weed 75% of the Asian books over 11 years old, about 9 books, and replace that
part of the collection with 25 new books. That would bring our Asian biography
collection up to 5%.

• weed 50% of the Hispanic books over 11 years old, about 15 books, and replace
that part of the collection with 37 new books. That would bring our Hispanic
biography collection up to 10% of the collection.

• weed 25% of the African American books over 11 years old, about 54 books and
replace those books with more current, appealing selections.

• weed 25% of the White books over 11 years old, about 78 books and replace them
as needed based on subject availability in the current collection.

Over all this would weed out 156 books out of the 369 listed as 16 years or older. It
would add approximately 100 current books to the collection. Which would improve our
age analysis significantly. (see proposed age analysis chart) We would now show that
over 50% or our collection is less than 15 years old with 21% of our books less than 5
years old. In addition it would even up the availability of ethnicity-based biographies.
The proposed addition of the 100 books to the biography section would cost
approximately $2,246. This quote is based on the average hardcover book cost of $22.46
cited in the March issue of School Library Journal.