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…
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.