Library Collection Review Update
In the last three years, Library staff have been implementing the 2011 recommendations of the Academic Commons Task Force (ACTF), a component of the Integrated Planning Process of 2010-2011. The recommendations include items for the offices and programs that will be housed in the renovated library building, the nature of library collections, and the conceptual and physical role of the building in campus intellectual life. Following an account of the general goals of the review, readers will find a history of the project beginning with the ACTF recommendations about the Library’s collections and concluding with an update about the completion of its second major phase.
The collection review of all print materials housed by the Library is designed to accomplish a couple of things in parallel with the Library’s ongoing review of the electronic resources and journals the Library subscribes to. [read more] First, by identifying books that have seen little use, the review gives the campus community an opportunity to examine the materials being used as a way of understanding the effects of course assignments and research projects on Library collections. Second, reviewing little-used materials at the shelf or from a spreadsheet enables faculty to identify gaps in the collections and learn about sources they hadn’t known and can call students’ attention to. Third, since the review includes special collections holdings as well as circulating items, materials that in many cases are not well represented in the Library catalog because they lack thorough description and cataloging are being made more accessible. Conversations that Dale Stieber and Special Collections staff have been having with faculty as they bring greater organization to large groups of materials have helped faculty think about how materials of whose existence they were not aware could be useful in their courses and student research projects.
In a number of ways, therefore, the review calls renewed attention to a body of material aggregated over the decades and in many cases sitting passively on the shelf unnoticed and not speaking to the interests of today’s readers. The attempt to focus the collections for which the College provides campus housing on the immediate and foreseeable needs of the curriculum has relied, in effect, on readers to “reselect” the collection through their use of it; the review has focused attention on areas where the collection needs augmentation and updating. A smaller, more focused collection also affords the browser a greater chance on any given shelf of finding useful materials. We very much hope that campus readers will use this opportunity to re-examine the holdings in their speciality and to suggest new books to add to the collection (see http://www.oxy.edu/library/services#suggest-purchase for advice on suggesting titles for purchase).
A history of the collection review follows.
Based on the following assumptions about the future of the Library’s general, circulating materials--
readers and researchers want access to as much material as possible as quickly as possible,
electronic delivery of journal content is now generally accepted,
electronic text greatly expands the range of what we can access and use at substantially less cost than print,
print-on-demand shortens delivery time of remotely accessed text,
robust user-initiated borrowing partnerships already exist and additional partnerships will be established.
--the Task Force concluded in 2011 that the future of Library general collections would be shaped by the following dynamics:
they will continue to grow as resources are available but will do so mostly in electronic resources and through the strength, number, and variety of access partnerships,
availability of digitized text and reading device/software improvement will create a shift away from print for most purposes and readers,
the Library will continue to buy texts in print until the-publication and screen reading become generally accepted and publishers stop publishing in this form,
the academic publishing market will move away from print to electronic forms of publication and will not only publish “finished products,”
finished products will be offered in electronic packages and through print-on demand,
a cooperative regional and national plan for archiving of journals will emerge in the next one to three years and for monographs in three to five years; when this happens, most libraries will begin to divest of local print copies of older, less used materials in favor of those held on behalf of the library community by a small number of institutions,
Occidental will avoid the cost of storing its print materials in favor of partnerships for access or of placing our materials in already existing storage facilities,
those newly published materials acquired in physical copy will not be regarded as long-term investments because, for the most part, the “copy of record” will be electronic.
The Task Force therefore recommended the following with respect to the general print collection:
The College's collection of printed books will be re-developed to consist of well-used titles of current and classic interest and those that have artifactual value in teaching.
Faculty will advise librarians about renovating and updating the print collection.
The general print collection will be smaller eventually by 40-50%; special collections will be assessed and more sharply focused to be smaller.
Purchases will rely mostly on user requests.
Purchases of e-book collections will increase beyond the current ebrary offerings.
Libraries of record will receive Occidental’s scarcely or uniquely held books that are no longer wanted as a contribution to maintaining the record of publication.
Print books will be retained in the collections for a period of years, perhaps ten, and then removed from the collection unless they are being used.
In the three years since the ACTF’s recommendations were issued, Library staff have sought faculty advice on journal collections to ensure that subscriptions match current curricular interests and have been selectively replacing current and backfile journal collections with electronic subscriptions. To expand the reach of local collections, memberships have been taken in the Center for Research Libraries and the OCLC Research Library Partnership. In preparation for reshaping the general book collection to fit the current curriculum and a new footprint in the Academic Commons, the Library has been using the results of a 2012 study, which identified almost two-thirds of the volumes in the general collection, roughly 220,000, as meeting criteria for review and potential withdrawal.
In academic year 2012/13 and as the first stage of reshaping the book collection, College Librarian Bob Kieft met with department Chairs in their monthly meetings and discussed impending changes to the collection strategy with individual departments. Staff placed review slips in roughly 30,000 books in Library of Congress classes Q-Z so that staff and faculty could examine them on the shelf; spreadsheets of candidates for withdrawal were also available. Faculty reviewing books could request that individual volumes be retained in the collection, given to them upon withdrawal, or sent to departmental reading rooms upon withdrawal. The Q-Z classes were processed out of the collection in the summer of 2013, and over the summer and into the fall of 2013 staff placed review slips in the remaining classes, A-P.
Faculty were invited to review A-P during the fall and into the spring semester of 2014. Over the course of the spring and summer of 2014, books in these classes A-L and P were processed out of the collections. Because all general book and journal collections will be housed in the Hunt Wing of the renovated Academic Commons, staff shifted holdings throughout the building as they finished removing books from stack sections.
In consultation with the AHVA and Music departments, the last phase of the review will take place during fall semester as we complete the refocusing of the collections with books in classes M and N. Cleanup work in 2015 will involve removing items that were missed on the first pass, additional catalog record maintenance, and an inventory. Records for books withdrawn have been augmented with donor information and other notes about the review and are being maintained for historical purposes.
The majority of books withdrawn go to Better World Books for resale in the used book market; substantial numbers have also found new homes in campus reading rooms and personal collections. Some of the proceeds from BWB sales return to the College and others go to support libraries and literacy efforts around the world http://www.betterworldbooks.com/info.aspx?f=our_impact.
Please contact Bob Kieft (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you want a tour of the review process or if you have comments or questions. During this new academic year, Bob will again meet with and report to department Chairs, departments, and individual faculty about the collection review process and its results.
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