The development of the Standards for College Libraries
Swinney, Victoria Kathleen
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This study traces the history and sources of the Standards for College Libraries from the first committee discussion in the late 1950' s to 2000. Changes in the leadership of the American Library Association (ALA) and the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) strongly influenced the process of revising those standards. Changes in higher education standards and the practice of college librarianship also shaped the standards. Throughout all of the versions on the standards, basic support for the central role of the library in collegiate education and faculty status for librarians remained unchanged. The 1959 Standards for College Libraries represented a response to calls for policies and methods for improving smaller college libraries. They set ambitious goals with quantitative minima for all college libraries. An unsuccessful attempt to revise them responded to calls for more flexible standards focused on actual practice and avoided quantitative minima. A new committee developed a consensus document approved in 1975 that returned to quantitative minima and introduced a grading system that allowed libraries to compare their collection, staffing, and facilities to libraries serving similar institutions, with the majority of libraries receiving a grade of C. This scoring system and the omission of audiovisual materials from the collection formula drew considerable criticism. The new edition of the standards in 1986 maintained much of the structure and content of the 1975 standards, but addressed criticism of the scoring system and the omission of audiovisual materials from the collections formula by making it easier for libraries to receive a grade of A and adding audiovisual materials and resource sharing transactions to the collection standard. The increasing complexity of the ACRL and the rising influence of smaller units led to a shift in responsibility for the standards to the College Libraries Section Standards Committee in the 1990's. This group wrote a minor revision of the standards in 1995 and the final revision-of the standards in 2000. This final revision focused on individualized assessment and replaced national normative quantitative standards with suggestions for local quantitative assessment, while maintaining the vision of the library developed in the earlier standards.