New Research in Collection Management

Curving shelves of multi-colored books on an upper-level of a building
Interior of the Stadsbiblioteket, Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by Susan Yin on Unsplash.

The ALCTS Collection Management Section (CMS) sponsored the program “New Research in Collection Management” at the 2019 ALA Annual Conference in Washington, DC. Librarians from the University of Denver Libraries reported on their efforts to diversify their collection with regards to Native American history and culture, and Shirleanne Ackerman Gahan of the University of Portland Clark Library reported on her research examining the types of books their users accessed.

Collection Diversification at the University of Denver Libraries

Jack Maness, Shannon Tharp, and Denisse Solis, all from the University of Denver Libraries, presented their report “Collection Diversification at the University of Denver Libraries.” The University of Denver Libraries (DU Libraries) feel a particular responsibility to ensure diversity in their collection with regards to Native American peoples, particularly the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, because their university sits on land which was originally part of a tribal reservation and was founded by men responsible for the Sand Creek Massacre.

The DU Libraries’ Collection Diversification Task Force determined five strategies to better diversify the collections. The first and second strategies involve analyzing and updating their approval plan by working with GOBI to add small press publishers of Native American works and materials from Native American-centric awards and recommendation lists to their list of materials ordered on an approval plan. The third strategy is to create and apply a local thesaurus of subject terms relating to Native American tribes; this work was initially focused on the Cheyenne and Arapaho, but has been broadened to include all Native American tribes. The fourth strategy is to compare DU collections to other local collections to identify areas of overlap and potential gaps. The fifth strategy is to reach out to the local Cheyenne and Arapaho communities and get their involvement and feedback.

Throughout their talk, the presenters emphasized that diversification of collections is not a once-and-done project, but something which needs to be sustained throughout the library over time. We as librarians shape the scholarly record, so we are responsible for ensuring representation in our collections. The presentation concluded by noting that because diverse voices are not easily identified by automated systems, human effort is continually required.

Collection Assessment: E-books versus Print Books

In “Collection Assessment: Ebooks vs. Print Books,” Gahan presented the process and results of an analysis of book usage by Clark Library patrons, evaluated by format, owner, and subject area. The ultimate goal of this research was to help local selectors make better-informed choices regarding which formats to purchase. Gahan summarized the process she used to pull circulation statistics for locally and consortially held materials and then to associate those materials with broad subject areas. She then displayed and discussed various charts of the results. Some findings were surprising, such as that math and the hard sciences strongly preferred print books. The analysis also highlighted areas where Clark Library needed to evaluate their own collections, such as in history, where the use of consortial books far outstripped the use of local books. Ultimately, this study was used to alter some collection policies at Clark Library. The study procedures were designed to be repeatable and were documented in order to allow repeated evaluations across time.

Presentation slides, audio, and video are available for registered ALA Annual 2019 attendees.

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