February 10th, 2011
In order to provide a source of central information that all faculty members can access, the Associate University Librarian, Client Services, Facilities and Collections, in conjunction with the University Librarian presents this webpage with information about collection management at the U of L and will use it to provide information on each project as it is developed including context, purpose, process [timelines, key decisions, plans for consultation etc.].
In the library, we are working to align all of our resources: staff/faculty time, budget, space, technology, and collections to support the University’s strategic plan. While working to address all of the strategies contained in the plan, we are currently focusing much of our energies on supporting the student first/student centred experience strategy, the development as a comprehensive university and the access to quality post secondary education strategy detailed within the plan.
To help us frame our goals and initiatives related to the strategic plan all of our work is now being internally assessed and centred on the response to three guiding questions:
- If we built it today what would it look like? (21st century/blended/mobile learner)
- How are we adding value to our students, faculty and staff?
- How are we supporting the university’s strategic plan?
The University Library currently houses approximately 511,783 physical volumes including books and periodicals. In addition we provide access to:
- 894,127 microforms
- 7,637 musical scores
- 50,000 cartographic items
- 11,453 audio visual items
- 11,453 electronic book titles
- 3,765 electronic periodicals
- Access to the abstracts and/or electronic full-text to an additional 105,963 periodicals via online databases
To support the learning, teaching and research needs of a comprehensive university a library collection must be managed in order to support the ever changing needs of an institution of higher learning. To ensure the highest quality collection is maintained, and that the moneys entrusted to the library are being spent to their greatest advantage, the library is beginning a holistic review of all collections within the library irrespective of format.
Assessment of collections is, and should be, an ongoing activity done by the subject librarians, in consultation with their colleagues within the library and across the institution. Part of the duties of professional librarians is to monitor, evaluate and assess collections, the ones to be purchased as well as existing ones that need to be “reviewed” & maintained. Over the next two to three years the library will be undertaking a holistic systematic review of all collections (print, microform, media, electronic, monograph, journals, & databases).
The purpose of these review projects is to ensure that we are using the dollars entrusted to us effectively – ensuring that within those funds we are providing students, faculty & staff with the best resources available. To do that we need to ensure our collection contains within it relevant content in the most accessible and appropriate formats available. The library must balance the collection to meet the needs of all its users whether students, faculty or staff, for efforts encompassing research, teaching, learning and knowledge creation.
Each review project will involve a variety of steps, including (but not limited to):
- Internal meetings to identify goals, objectives and to brainstorm and discuss the project among librarians
- Identification of “best practices” and/or how conduct the work involved in reviewing the particular collection in question (there would be different processes for different types of resources)
- What is the best way for the U of L Library to proceed and what does that look like
- Collection of data and information (mostly internal collection information and use data) that can inform the process
- Librarians will do the preliminary work of evaluating based on agreed upon criteria and procedures
- Timelines will be developed and confirmed
- Faculty input will be is sought and obtained and the process moves forward
A. Reference Collection Review Project:
While a complete review of the Library collections will take several years, we have to start somewhere. We have decided to start this cycle of review and evaluation with the reference collection. The very first meeting of librarians to discuss this project occured on November 16, 2010. It was expected that there would be several meetings of librarians to discuss the project goals, establish agreed upon procedures and generally begin the process of moving the project forward. Upon completion of the initial, internal review, the library will be contacting faculties and/or departments to get feedback on those items that additional information is needed on.
Current options being explored for material currently housed in the reference collection include:
- Keep title as is, in reference collection (current, relevant and used)
- Update title to a new edition or new format or both (increase access to basic undergraduate reference material, high quality online access from reputable providers such as Oxford or Sage)
- Remove the title from the reference collection and move to the main collection (with either limited circulation or standard) (still relevant to curriculum but no longer as valuable as a “reference” tool, may be an older edition of a classic title, better use achieved through standard circulation, etc.)
- Remove title from the reference collection and move to storage (titles that a new format is available for but concern for quality of new format…allows us to test the new format with no danger of losing a title)
- Remove title from the collection (significantly out of date or material, material that no longer supports the curriculum, etc.)
Rest assured that at this point NO decisions have been made – we are early in the process with subject librarians just beginning to assess the collection and consult with their faculty. There is NO one size fits expectation for any of these reviews (by collection or by discipline). There is an expectation that material will be reviewed title by title (in many cases) with a set of criteria developed to guide the process, not dictate outcomes. We are very aware of different needs for format, content and level within disciplines, and even for specific courses.
Target Key Milestones:
- January 2011, librarians received complete title lists to begin review
- Mid March 2011, librarians complete initial review and evaluation of existing collection
- End of April 2011, consultation with department library representatives completed
- Mid May 2011, review of departmental input is completed and incorporated into overall evaluation
- June-August 2011, final decisions are made and implementation of these changes are completed
Does this mean the reference collection will change?
Probably, a bit for some disciplines and perhaps more dramatically for others though we won’t know anything until the process is complete.
Will electronic resources be preferred over print resources?
Possibly, again, there is no one size fits all answer to this question. Reference collections have historically been created as primarily undergraduate student resources. The newest students, known as Millennial’s, prefer immediate, just in time access at times of the day or night the rest of us cannot fathom. Electronic resources make sense for some of our tools and would be the wrong move for others. Each resource must stand on its own merit and the professional librarians are tasked with knowing which titles and types of resources are best kept in print as well as perhaps best moved to electronic format.
Is this happening elsewhere?
The U of L is not unique in reviewing collections and in some cases making changes. For example, the University of Victoria reduced print reference by 75%; University of Prince Edward Island no longer has any print reference or print journals; University of Calgary has moved 60% of their print collections to off-site storage. We will do what you need, but the landscape is changing (i.e., student needs and expectations) and libraries are not getting new physical space.