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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Propositions about the future of academic collections (Part 3)

Proposition 5: Collection managers should relinquish control in certain areas of collection development in order to focus on more complex collection needs.

Over the last decade, academic libraries have become more comfortable outsourcing certain activities to vendors or part-time, paraprofessional employees. Many technical services functions, especially original cataloging, have been handed over to organizations like OCLC and vendors like Yankee Book Peddler (Bracke, Hérubel, and Ward, 2010). The handling of gifts, an incredible use of staff time and resources, is often given over to Friends of the Libraries groups (Chadwell, 2010) when those collections are not unique or essential. There is a general consensus in the literature that outsourcing these activities provides collection development librarians with more time for assessment, developing unique aspects of a collection, and participating in consortia operations.

The patron-driven acquisitions model, a change in focus for collection managers and the theme of this year’s Charleston Conference, offers to radically change the way materials are selected. Hodges, Preston, and Hamilton (2010) discuss the success of an ILL purchase-on-demand program at the Ohio State University Libraries and illustrate how patron-initiated purchases can introduce useful and well-circulated materials into the collection. Currently, there are too many parameters that need to be determined before moving forward with a permanent program, but academic libraries across the country are working to integrate these models. As Bracke, Hérubel, and Ward (2010) point out, patron-driven acquisitions models allow librarians to spend less time managing collections and more time managing knowledge, a trend already entrenched in the “access” paradigm of collection management.

 


 

Proposition 6: Collection development librarians will require new models of assessment.

The scholarly landscape has already shifted from a dependence on print materials to dependence on digital materials. Users have access to more information than ever before in human history and, correspondingly, the complexity of their needs has increased. While librarians should continue to assess collections using traditional methods (e.g. circulation stats, gate counts, web-clicks), they must also find new and innovative ways to gather data about how users interact with information via the library. Horava (2010) argues that we should assess users in terms of their research activities (new vs. mature researcher) and access points (local vs. distance learners) instead of their demographics. The ability of current technology to manage extremely large and complex sets of data provides a unique opportunity to see our collections in a new light.

Librarians should also broaden their levels of assessment to move beyond one-dimensional statistics. Borin and Li (2008) offer a flexible, faceted assessment model for examining collections in terms of general characteristics, subject-matter, users, usage, and various contexts. As collection librarians shift their focus from collection management to knowledge management, these new assessment methods will provide more insightful analysis of the library’s ability to provide for its users.

 


 

Summing it all up

The current and future state of collection development can be summarized as a paradigm shift: from ownership to access, individual use to social use, content management to knowledge management. The growth of the internet and the explosion of digital materials have radically changed how libraries collect and manage resources in ways that librarians could not have predicted. Forecasting the next step will prove to be no less difficult.

Perhaps this has always been the case, as some of the literature seems to suggest. Ranganathan famously stated in his five laws of librarianship that the library is a growing organism. Like any organism, it adapts to its environment or it risks extinction. The propositions outlined above do not provide a definitive prediction of what the future holds for collection management, but it is my hope that they provide useful food for thought. In exercising our faculties to consider these possibilities, librarians and libraries can remain agile, flexible, and ready to change when the need arises.

 


 

References

Borin, J. & Li, H. (2008). Indicators for collection evaluation: A new dimensional framework. Collection Building, 27(4), 136-143.

Bracke, M., Hérubel, J.V.M., & Ward, S.M. (2010). Some thoughts on opportunities for collection development librarians. Collection Management, 35(3), 255-259.

Chadwell, F.A. (2010). What’s next for collection management and managers? Collection Management, 35(2), 59-68.

Hodges, D., Preston, C., & Hamilton, M.J. (2010). Patron-initiated collection development: Progress of a paradigm shift. Collection Management, 35(3/4), 208-21.

Horava, T. (2010). Challenges and possibilities for collection management in a digital age. Library Resources & Technical Services, 54(3), 142-52.

Propositions about the future of academic collections (Part 2)

I’ve been thinking about library collections and how they’ve changed over the past decade (again, culminating MLIS coursework is full-throttle until December). This week, I’m sharing six propositions for the future of academic library collections (here was Part 1). Your thoughts are welcomed in the comments!

 


 

Proposition 3: Virtual services and distance learning models will become even more integrated into higher education.

The rise of distance learning and online courses has helped to push the focus of collection development from print materials to digital materials and from ownership to access. Sennyey, Ross, and Mills (2009) and Mullins, Allen, and Hufford (2007) predict an even greater increase in the use of virtual services and virtual coursework in universities. While virtual reference, digital document delivery, off-campus access of electronic resources are fairly commonplace in academia, as universities increase the number of courses offered online, these services will become even more necessary. Borin and Li (2008) also highlight the fact that most users have greater technological competencies than in the past. We should expect that most of them will try to access resources from outside the library via digital networks, even when on-campus. Collection development librarians should consider these realities when making decisions regarding format and access models of resources.

 


 

Proposition 4: Libraries should push for increased ownership of digital materials and focus more of their efforts on local digital collections.

Universities have always been catalysts for original ideas and research. In the past, medieval and renaissance libraries were the custodians of that knowledge, managing incredibly complex and unique collections of original works, and eventually founding their own publishing houses to disseminate that material. Since the rise of commercial publishers, however, much of this responsibility to publish and disseminate material has moved into the hands of outside entities which were more adept at covering overhead costs and managing production. With the rise of the digital era and the falling cost of computer hardware, many libraries are reconsidering their role as publishers and producers of knowledge.

Some writers are calling for libraries to take greater responsibility in digitizing print resources and archiving born-digital materials (Adams, 2009; Atkinson, 2006; Hans, 2008). Alire (2010) and Pochoda (2008) emphasize the importance of building institutional repositories (IR) and the need for librarians to work with university administrators to encourage faculty participation. Creating a successful IR system will require changing the culture of academia by, among other things, raising awareness about the ongoing serials crisis in light of shrinking budgets, redefining the tenure process, highlighting the prestige of local archives, and improving access to institutional knowledge. Collection development librarians will need to use their expertise and experience working with complex collections in order to address the inevitable questions that will arise, such as: How will the collection be organized? What formats will be accepted? What types of materials will be included? Who will have access? and so forth.

More to come…

 


 

References

Adams, R.A. (2009). Archiving digital materials: An overview of the issues. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 19(4), 325-335.

Alire, C.A & Evans, G.E. (2010). Academic librarianship. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers

Atkinson, R. (2006). Six key challenges for the future of collection development. Library Resources & Technical Services 50(4), 244-251.

Borin, J. & Li, H. (2008). Indicators for collection evaluation: A new dimensional framework. Collection Building, 27(4), 136-143.

Hans, T. (2008). Mass digitization: implication for preserving the scholarly record. Library Resources & Technical Services, 52(1), 18-26.

Mullins, J.L., Allen, F.R., & Hufford, J.R. (2007). Ten top assumptions for the future of academic libraries and librarians. College & Research Libraries, 68(4), 240-246.

Pochoda, P. (2008). Scholarly publication at the digital tipping point. Journal of Electronic Publishing, 11(2). Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/3336451.0011.202

Sennyey, P., Ross, L., & Mills, C. (2009). Exploring the future of academic libraries: A definitional approach. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35(3), 252-259.

Propositions about the future of academic collections (Part 1)

I’ve been thinking about library collections and how they’ve changed over the past decade (again, culminating MLIS coursework is full-throttle until December). This week, I thought I would share six propositions for the future of academic library collections. Think of them as mini-Taiga statements that highlight the current state of collection development practices and philosophies but also present crucial factors that may determine the future of collections. Your thoughts are welcomed in the comments!

 


 

Proposition 1: In the battle between ownership and access, “access” has become the predominating paradigm.

Miller’s (2000) analysis of the period between 1980 and 2000 shows that the two paradigms that predominated collection management in the late 20th century were “ownership” and “access.” Libraries struggled to find a balance between the storage and preservation of information resources and the ability to provide constant and immediate access to them. This struggle was highlighted by the emergence of electronic resources, increased serials costs, the splintering of the academic publishing landscape, and the ubiquity of personal computers. Whereas libraries once fell decidedly upon the “ownership” side of the equation, the 21st century academic library is driven primarily by the “access” model of collections development, especially when it relates to serials acquisitions. The shift has not been entirely to one side, nor is it likely to ever shift completely to an all access model. However, the preference for ownership still predominates librarian education (Tucker and Torrence, 2004) and there is even some evidence that academic libraries may move back toward increased ownership with regards to digital materials.

Martell (2009) goes a step further to argue that the next paradigm in collection development will be what he calls “sAccess”: a social access model. Martell looks at the predominance of social networks and virtual communities and predicts that the next paradigm shift will focus on finding ways to provide resources to users within these spaces. Current licensing agreement models and format incompatibilities will make this difficult, but if academic libraries continue to push for increased ownership of digital materials, it is likely that we will see librarians trying to find ways to push this material into these spaces.

 


 

Proposition 2: Co-operation and collaboration will be even more necessary to maintain collections at a level of access that patrons will accept.

Academic libraries have been working together to share the responsibilities of collection development since the creation of the Farmington Plan at end of World War II (Evans and Saponaro, 2005). Current programs like OHIOLink and Link+ in California are testaments to successful resource sharing. It is generally acknowledged within the literature that libraries will not survive in isolation: resource sharing is a necessary activity. This is especially true for electronic resources. Consortia like SCELC, the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium, established in 1986, bring libraries together to leverage purchasing power and maximize limited financial resources (Atkinson, 2006; Horava, 2010; Kinner and Crosetto, 2009).

While the success of consortia is indispensable, it will not be enough. Collaboration will be necessary in other areas as well. One such area is advocacy. According to authors like McGuigan and Russell (2008) and Atkinson (2006), libraries need to work together “against” publishers, not maliciously, but in order to create a more realistic purchasing market and to make resources more accessible. If librarians do not advocate for standardization of digital material, more affordable pricing models, and increased ownership of e-resources, commercial enterprises like Google or Microsoft will ultimately step in and do the job for them; and librarians risk being excluded from the negotiating table. This is especially true with regards to academic publishers. For the most part, libraries are the only market for scholarly presses. Librarians need to work together above and beyond institutional boundaries rather than functioning as isolated buyers. It will require renewed entrepreneurship and stronger leadership to make this happen.

More to come…

 


 

References

Atkinson, R. (2006). Six key challenges for the future of collection development. Library Resources & Technical Services 50(4), 244-251.

Evans, G.E. & Saponaro, M.Z. (2005). Developing Library and Information Center Collections. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Horava, T. (2010). Challenges and possibilities for collection management in a digital age. Library Resources & Technical Services, 54(3), 142-52.

Kinner, L. & Crosetto, A. (2009). Balancing act for the future: how the academic library engages in collection development at the local and consortial levels. Journal of Library Administration, 49(4), 419-437.

Martell, C. (2009). sAccess: The social dimension of a new paradigm for academic librarianship. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 35(3), 205-206.

McGuigan, G.S. & Russell, R.D. (2008). The business of academic publishing: A strategic analysis of the academic journal publishing industry and its impact on the future of scholarly publishing. Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship, 9(3).

Miller, R.H. (2000). Electronic resources and academic libraries, 1980-2000: A historical perspective. Library Trends, 48(4), 645-70.

Tucker, J.C. & Torrence, M. (2004). Collection development for new librarians: advice from the trenches. Library Collections, Acquisitions, and Technical Services, 28(4), 397-409.

Final semester…

I’m in the last semester of MLIS course work at SJSU. Each day, I sit down to write (and will do so until December): a [for me, tortuous] process of self-reflection and synthesis. I thought I would share bits and pieces, in lieu of other more timely topics, to help me flesh things out. So I hope you don’t mind, dear reader, but I’m using you. 😉

Individuals are an essential component of information use: the senders and receivers of data. In Diffusion of Innovations, Everett Rogers explains how new information (i.e. “innovation”) moves among members in a social system. Individuals are one of the four essential elements of the process of diffusion, which he defines as “the process by which an innovation is communicated through certain channels over time among the members of a social system” (1995) […] Librarians often choose to focus their efforts on either the social system or the individual depending on the type of service they set out to provide. At the reference desk in academic libraries, for example, we use our professional knowledge of human information behavior (e.g. Kuhlthau’s Information Search Process) and strategies for one-on-one reference interactions (Taylor’s question negotiation) to help users locate information online and on the shelves. This approach centers on the needs of the individual and utilizes our understanding of how individuals usually behave when confronted with an information need. Conversely, when developing system-wide models for information literacy instruction, we can use our knowledge of how people seek information in networks (e.g. Savolainen’s information source horizons) to build embedded staff programs that put librarians right into the spaces where students are likely to need information-seeking assistance, such as course management systems, classrooms, and group study spaces…

And so on and so forth.

References

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2004). Seeking meaning: A process approach to library and information services. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Rogers, E. M. (1995). Diffusion of innovations (4th edition). New York: Free Press.

Savolainen, R. (2008). Source preferences in the context of seeking problem-specific information. Information Processing & Management, 44(1), 274-293. doi:10.1016/j.ipm.2007.02.008

Taylor, R. S. (1968). Question negotiation and information seeking in libraries. College & Research Libraries, 29, 178-194.