Library Neutrality

Justifying Neutrality - Collection Development

Neutrality in collection development has frequently been linked to passivity. Josey, West, Martin, and others have all suggested that a neutral approach favours the balance of power, represented by the largest publishing firms, at the expense of smaller publications. Another approach, vocalized by Broderick, Peattie, and McCabe, says that neutrality is passive in providing simple access to materials without regard to value judgments and the educational role of librarians. In the first argument, neutrality is a detriment to intellectual freedom. In the latter, it ignores social responsibility. These concerns, however, are not mutually exclusive. Social responsibility and intellectual freedom are inextricably linked, each depending on, and being partially constructed of, the other.

Collections are built based on need. While the possibility of pure neutrality in collection development is debatable, it is clear that selectors must consider all needs within the community that is being served, and make value judgments based on the level of apparent need. Neutrality in this sense does not necessitate the abandonment of principles in making selections, and does not require a passive approach. Rather, neutrality requires active engagement with and thoughtful consideration of the needs of every member of a community.

Previous Next