Module 3 – 2nd Year (Collection Services)

Collection Services

It is highly recommended that dual degree students take the Collection Development course offered by the Palmer School program. In light of that the Mentoring Program’s cohort sessions will focus on practical and emerging issues surrounding electronic resources.

For spring 2014, the 2 cohort sessions, each 90 minutes long, take place as follows:
Cohort Session 1: March 12, 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., REF1 Conference Room; co-led by Angela Carreno, Head of Collection Development, NYU Libraries and Evelyn Ehrlich
Cohort Session 2: March 26, 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., REF1 Conference Room; co-led by Angela and Evelyn

Core topics covered through a combination of cohort teaching sessions and individual readings and projects (20 hours)

  • The Traditional collection development paradigm and the current reality: discontinuities and continuities

History – Until quite recently, “collection development” was a blanket phrase that denoted the process of building collections of library materials to serve the needs of specific user populations. It included inter alia policy issues, selection and weeding strategies, collection evaluation, use and user studies, all aimed at creating the most appropriate, but discrete and institutionally based, collections for the educational and research requirements of identifiable client groups.

Current Reality – budget and staff reductions in research libraries and developments in information technology and in the publishing industry have led to modifications, or even reversals, of established ideas about how best to approach collection development. The combined effect of a constricted library economy, the emergence of information in electronic format, and the continued increase in volume and cost of scholarly information continues to produce profound changes in the practice of collection development in research libraries. While “collection development” continues to be used in the literature, there is a growing preference for “collection management and services.” This choice reflects a paradigmatic shift, both from discrete institutional collections to a wider information world, and from narrower issues specific to collection building to a rather daunting range of issues drawn from wider aspects of professional practice. This shift, in which libraries are less concerned with the management of artifacts than with the management of intellectual content, is driven in part by information technology, and in part by economic factors.

  • Selection of Materials in a Networked Environment

Collection Development Policies – a written collection policy clearly describes an individual library’s objectives in developing its collections and in providing access to remote resources through electronic means or document delivery. Additionally, budgetary consideration, the growth of interlibrary cooperation, and expanding service networks have given impetus to the continued need for analysis of collection activity in standardized terms.

Selection Criteria and Strategies – what are the primary elements of the resource selection process? Research libraries are in the process of making broad, organizational changes in their management of the products of scholarship. Librarians now rely on access to digital information, not from files stored in their own libraries or on their own campuses, but from servers that are networked to publishers, vendors, other universities, scholarly societies, and government agencies. Rather than selecting scholarly resources on an item by item basis, librarians are turning to “aggregators” for developing their collections at a macro and integrated level.

  • Managing Collections in the Digital Age

In the past, libraries have had to collect materials comprehensively if they were to be research institutions. Now, thanks to digitization, they are extending their traditional role as physical repositories of intellectual resources to include providing access to electronic surrogates, to digitally born materials, to research materials housed in remote repositories, and to electronic resources located on servers of other agencies. As librarians add to their mission of custodianship of physical collections the responsibilities of content managers, they have to examine very carefully how they use the available resources, so that the information needs of users in a networked 21st century world are being appropriately met. A selection of issues to be covered includes:

    • challenges of the hybrid collection
    • digital curation
    • licensing issues
    • evolving business models
    • service issues

Websites/portals to monitor

Core Readings

  • Carreño, A. M., and B. Maltarich (2013). “Aggregation, Integration, Cooperation: The Three Imperatives of New York University’s E-Book Strategy.” eContent Quarterly, 1, no. 2: 36-52.
  • Lowry, C. B. and J. C. Blixrud (2012). “E-Book Licensing and Research Libraries: Negotiating Principles and Price in an Emerging Market.” Research Library Issues: A Quarterly Report from ARL, CNI, and SPARC, no. 280.
  • Atkinson, R. (2005). “Introduction for the Break-Out Sessions: Six Key Challenges for the Future of Collection Development.” Paper delivered at the Janus Conference on Research Library Resources. Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, October 9, 2005.
  • Monroe, W. S. (1997). “The Role of selection in collection development: past, present, and future.” In Collection Management for the 21st Century: a Handbook for librarians. Ed. by G. E. Gorman and R. H. Miller. Westport, CT: Greenwood Pr.

Sample collection policies for ARL libraries

  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Cornell
  • Columbia
  • Brown
  • NYU

Further Reading

  • Anderson, J. S., ed. (1996). Guide for written collection policy statements. 2nd edition. Chicago, Ill.: American Library Association.
  • Sulouff, Pat, Suzanne Bell and Judi Briden. (2005). “Learning about grey literature by interviewing subject librarians: A study at the University of Rochester.” College & Research Libraries News, 66, no. 7: 510-15.
  • Grant, Joan. (1999). “Approval Plans: Library-Vendor Partnerships for Acquisitions and Collection Development.” Understanding the Business of Library Acquisitions, 2nd ed. Karen A. Schmidt, 143-156. Chicago: American Library Association.
  • Harley, Diane, Acord, Sophia Krzys, Earl-Novell, Sarah, Lawrence, Shannon, & King, C. Judson. (2010). Assessing the Future Landscape of Scholarly Communication: An Exploration of Faculty Values and Needs in Seven Disciplines. UC Berkeley: Center for Studies in Higher Education.

Project Examples

To be customized in consultation with mentor

1. Write a collection development policy statement (only narrative, not the conspectus analysis) that includes the following sections:

  • assessment of the academic profile of the institution the library supports
  • description of the information needs of your specific user community and the broader user community (e.g., interdisciplinary relationships)
  • scope of coverage (languages, geographical areas, chronological periods)
  • materials/formats included and excluded
  • strengths and weaknesses (in terms of the local level and the larger regional level)

2. A donor has given a generous amount of money to your collection development program and you are in the fortunate position to choose which part of your collection to spend it on. Guided by your policy statement you can strengthen a weak area of your collection, or develop a new area, or address “wear and tear” issues in your collection, or … depending on what you decide, you need to:

  • do an assessment of the relevant collection segments
  • identify the most appropriate tools that will help you build that collection area (e.g. subject guides, bibliographies, catalogs, books in print, review sources, etc.)
  • build a sample collection of ca. 20-30 titles

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