Measuring Diversity of Opinion in Public Library Collections

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Serebnick, Judith
Quinn, Frank
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Collection Development , Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Other social sciences::Library and information science , Censorship , Simpson's Index
This study was intended to develop a method for measuring diversity of opinion in public library collections and to test the method in selected Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) libraries. The method was broadly conceived and included locating an objective index of diversity (Simpson's index), identifying the population of diverse materials available for selection by librarians, and selecting key variables that relate to high or low levels of diversity in individuals libraries. Four potentially controversial subject areas were investigated, namely, abortion, capital punishment, disarmament or arms control, and euthanasia. Testing the method included analyzing questionnaires and library holdings of books and audiovisual materials, publishing and reviewing patterns, checklists from special interest groups, and regression analysis data related to creating models of significant independent variables that affect diversity scores of individual public libraries.