POLICIES, NORMS AND STANDARDS:
Information source; building, an important function of the library, should be based on sound policies and programmes.
The basic question of who should hold authority and responsibility for building a stock of documents and ensure their quality must be unambiguously stated. The general practice is to divide this responsibility among three committee. While the financial and administrative powers would rest with the highest executive authority, the Library Advisory Committee which lays down policies on all matters of the library would also set broad guidelines on which the library should build its collection. Book selection committees for different groups of subjects, represented by subject experts, form the second level who would recommend individual items to be acquired by the library, keeping in view the requirements and the quality of the publications. The third level responsibility rests with the head of the library and the library staff at senior levels, who have knowledge about the clientele as well as the world of documents. The librarian and his staff are concerned with the comprehensiveness, balance and updatedness of the collection. Their duty is not to take direct responsibility for the quality of the collection but also to keep informed the other committee members to help them evolve appropriate policy guidelines. It would be a good procedure if all these aspects are recorded in a policy statement. Norms and standards usually pertain to : i) optimum size of the collection; ii) proportion of allocation of funds to books, journals, and other categories of documents, iii) proportion of allocation of funds on the basis of service to different user groups, for example, children, adults and the blind, the undergraduate students and research scholars in academic libraries, operational and research staff in specialised libraries.
There are no accepted standards for all these, particularly in India. Some norms are available in the context of the western industrialised countries but they may have to be examined in the Indian context. As far as public libraries are concerned, some norms and standards have been prescribed by various library committees which have gone into this problem. These can give broad guidelines to evolve more acceptable standards in the present context of the country, keeping in view population growth and distribution, literacy/illiteracy, occupation, students at different levels, bureaucracy, etc.