Reshaping Library Circulating Collections
In the last couple of years, Library staff have begun to implement 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, the nature of library collections, and the building itself, ongoing planning, and the conceptual role of the commons in campus intellectual life. Following a review of the ACTF recommendations about the Library’s circulating collections, readers will find an update about the completion of the first major phase of the collection review.
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 that the future of library general collections will 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 e-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 Academic Commons 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 two 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 commissioned a study in 2012 from Sustainable Collection Services that identified all books that were acquired before 2000, have never been on course reserve, and have circulated two or fewer times on campus or to other libraries since 1990, when the Library began using an automated circulation system. Although the percentage of books meeting these criteria varies among call number ranges, almost two-thirds of the volumes in the collection, roughly 220,000, were identified as candidates 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. Many books removed from the shelves were sent to UCLA so that they could incorporate in their archival collections volumes they do not have; the majority of books withdrawn went to Better World Books http://www.betterworldbooks.com for resale in the used book market. Some of the proceeds from BWB sales return to the College and others go to support libraries and education efforts around the world
As work has continued on reviewing the print journal collection and on annuals and continuations housed in the stacks, staff have also spent the summer placing review slips in Library of Congress classes A-P, and a few faculty have begun to review these candidates for withdrawal in the stacks or from spreadsheets. During spring semester 2014 and through the summer of 2014, staff will withdraw volumes according to the protocols developed for classes Q-Z. At the end of the process of reshaping the general collection, books will be housed in the Myron Hunt wing of the building in the stack tier and adjoining spaces.
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 be meeting with department Chairs, departments, and individual faculty about the collection review process.
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