Assignment 2: case studies - collection and ethical issues
• Due Date: 22 April 2016
• Weighting Percentage: 50%
• Addresses learning outcome(s):
o On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to: 1. undertake an analysis of the information needs of an organisation or other client base;
o 2. develop and maintain resources and services that support client needs;
o 6. understand the implications of identified issues in information provision;
o 7. recognise and address barriers to and inequalities in information flow;
o 10. evaluate information resources and services.
• Related graduate attribute(s):
o 1. UC graduates are professional - communicate effectively
o 1. UC graduates are professional - employ up-to-date and relevant knowledge and skills
o 1. UC graduates are professional - use creativity, critical thinking, analysis and research skills to solve theoretical and real-world problems
o 2. UC graduates are global citizens - behave ethically and sustainably in their professional and personal lives
o 2. UC graduates are global citizens - think globally about issues in their profession
o 3. UC graduates are lifelong learners - adapt to complexity, ambiguity and change by being flexible and keen to engage with new ideas
There are two parts to this assignment. The first part of the assignment builds on the case study developed in Assignment 1. Suggested length: 1500 words
You are instructed by (News For You) NFY’s Chief Information Officer to develop a policy for the development and management of a largely digital collection, a plan for evaluating the collection in future years and an outline of the main budgetary issues. Note:
(1) You need to outline a collection policy appropriate to the organisation, information services and collection that formed the subject of the NFY case study in Assignment 1. Note that the collection will consist of more than the 20-30 indicative resources outlined in Assignment 1. Be sure to include strategies for the preservation of information resources, where appropriate (this obviously does not apply to resources such as subscription databases).
(2) Your plan for evaluation should address how you would go about evaluation and which methods you think appropriate (collection- versus user-orientated approaches).
(3) Your discussion of budgetary issues should factor in issues specific to the digital information environment.
Where elements of any existing collection development/management policies have been incorporated or adapted be sure to reference them, just as you would any other resource that has specifically informed your thinking.
Select a different type of organisation from the one used in Assignment 1, such as a different type of company, a government department, educational institution or archive.
(1) Outline one significant ethical dilemma that its information manager might face and explain briefly why it is significant. Note that this must represent a dilemma, in other words, there must be a clearly identifiable conflict of obligations and/or ethical principles.
(2) Explain clearly what criteria you would use to resolve the dilemma or at least find a way forward for the information manager.
(3) Explain briefly why you think or don’t think that codes of ethics have any significant value in the workplace.
There is no set word limit for this part but it should clearly be significantly briefer than your response to Part 1.
Marking criteria for Assignment 2
The following criteria will be used in marking this assignment:
(1) demonstrated linkage of your case studies to the theory covered in Modules 3 and 4
(2) evidence of analytical skills
(3) evidence of communication
(4) evidence of ethical awareness
(5) awareness of user needs
(6) quality and relevance of literature you draw on to support your decisions
(7) presentation, structure, expression, citation and referencing.
I am going to help you with Assignment 2.
Assignment 2 has 3 parts.
Let’s think about the first part.
Task 1. Read Module 3 Information Needs. Below is a hint on how to get started for part 1.
Developing a collection policy.
Firstly, establish the clients’ information needs. Policies are not the beginning of collection development, rather a set of flexible and revisited guidelines that are developed after the collecting agency has established its clients’ information needs. Also, it is important that we align to our department’s business aims and objectives.
So finding out what the client needs is done through marketing which means getting to know your clients’ needs. In my library this means talking to our users, working on curriculum with lecturers and finding out their subject areas. We look through our subscriptions and collections and send them information about what we already have, make suggestions about new titles, and ask if they have any items they would like us to purchase. We use usage statistics from our catalogue software (what people are borrowing or linking to online) to evaluate our service and to see what is being used and think about how we can market our material better or better refine the collection to suit our clients’ information needs.
Peggy Johnson (2004) gives a good explanation. The aim of marketing is to satisfy the library user… For collection development, marketing means understanding the library’s public (users, potential users, funding and administrative bodies) in order to develop a product (the collection). The success of that product is then measured or evaluated to ensure the performance is responsive to the public and gains support. Library marketing always occurs within the context of the library’s mission, goals, and objectives. Successful marketing helps position the library to plan for that future (2004, p.173).
Task 2. Read Zhu, Q. & Guevara, S. (2009). A practical guide for building a user-focused digital library collection.
Task 3. Have a look at a few collection development policies online. e.g. National Library of Australia (I just searched in google `national library australia collection policy`), notice they have a few policies. And maybe some news library sites for their collection policies if you can find them.
Let`s think about selection. Please do the following activity.
In passing the responsibility for item-by-item selection to the supplier, a library will receive what is convenient or available, and not necessarily what its users require.
What checks and balances can a library put in place to guard against this potential problem?
Will developing and monitoring these procedures reduce the time saving benefit to the library of having outsourced item-by-item selection in the first place?
Topics covered in this module
1. Information needs
2. Information provision
3. Preservation of information resources
4. Management issues
Approximate duration of this module
This module introduces you to information provision at the collection level and covers activities such as collection development, collection management (the two are closely associated and considered by some writers as quasi-synonymous) and preservation of information resources. Although some of it is transferable, much of the material discussed here is the stuff of library and information service; indeed, it is worth considering whether a library would be a library without a collection, whether it be completely virtual, physical or - more typically - a hybrid of the two. As before, there is some reference to the archival environment.
Topic 1: information needs
The information agencies outlined in the previous module generally have a clearly defined clientele – a term used here in preference to ‘user communities’ because the communities they serve (geographical, organisational, academic and so on) are always going to include users and non-users or perhaps potential users. In the case of archive-type agencies, such as archives (obviously) and national and state libraries, these potential users may be future researchers who have not yet been born. All of these collecting agencies aim to satisfy their clients’ information needs.
In the following topics you will read about how these agencies develop and maintain their collections, whether these be physical collections, digital ones or both. You will find that in the field of library collection development and management studies some textbooks by reputable authors take as their starting point something called a collection development policy. This may seem like a logical approach, in the sense that it starts out from a strategic sounding position, but policies are not the beginning of collection development, rather a set of flexible and revisited guidelines that are developed after the collecting agency has established its clients’ information needs.
This module examines the analysis of information needs before it moves on to consider issues to do with information provision and its preservation (continued provision). Once you are familiar with these aspects of collection management, you will read about some of the management issues, including development of collection policies..
Information needs and marketing
It may seem odd to highlight marketing concepts, given that so many of the information agencies discussed in this unit are not-for-profit organisations. For many people marketing is largely synonymous with promotions but promotions are only part of the marketing story, which is largely about client needs.
This is one of the central themes of Lee Welch’s book, The Other 51 Weeks. The title of the book reflects her view that library marketing is not confined one week in the year when libraries in Australia have a week of intensive promotions, led by the professional association, the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA). Marketing is not confined to promotions, Welch suggests; rather, it is ‘the process of identifying and meeting client needs’ and ‘a building block … in the process of managing and fostering our libraries’ (2006, p.1).
In a key passage, she claims that ‘librarians should have a head start in understanding the application of marketing practices because they are based simply on understanding clients and putting them first’ (2006, p.2). Notice the use of the word ‘should’. This is a normative statement and not a descriptive one. With such a large investment in legacy systems, sources, standards and services, it is sometimes all too easy for those working in this sector to lose sight of the clients – the people for whom the sources and services are provided.
It seems self-evident, Welch suggests, that librarians need to embrace marketing and cannot sit back as gatekeepers to the world of knowledge, but, she goes on,
there are those who continue to deal in the ‘mystique’ of their skills to retrieve, organise and disseminate information. It seems to need to be said that this is an outdated attitude and a dangerous one in terms of our survival. As we will explore further, clients do have alternatives and they will not hesitate to shift their allegiance to competitors in the marketplace if we librarians take a high moral ground and dictate what we think the clients should have instead of letting the clients tell us what they want (2006, p.3).
Peggy Johnson (2004) gives marketing a significant amount of attention in her book about collection development and management, discussing marketing in these terms:
In a library context, the aim of marketing is to satisfy the library user and achieve a set of articulated goals, which may be increased use, community support, more patrons, a larger budget, or increased donations. For the collection development librarian, marketing means understanding the library’s public (users, potential users, funding and administrative bodies) in order to develop a product (the collection). The success of that product is then measured or evaluated to ensure the performance is responsive to the public and gains support. Library marketing always occurs within the context of the library’s mission, goals, and objectives. Successful marketing helps position the library to plan for that future (2004, p.173).
Note the inclusion of activities such as ‘outreach’, characteristic of public and school libraries (reaching out to their respective communities), and `liaison`, which is more characteristic of academic libraries (Johnson, 2004, p.173). This is often seen in terms of their promotional value but note too their use as a means of getting to know the library’s clients and their information needs. Indeed, in the university sector, with which Johnson deals, there is an increasingly strong view that the library/faculty relationship needs to be a partnership, in which the library is represented (at, say faculty board level) when decisions relating to areas such as curriculum development are made. Contrast this with a reactive approach in which a library discovers retrospectively that a development is taking place (in the area of teaching or research) and suddenly needs to shift financial resources in order to support that development.
The analysis described in Welch`s book covers a wide range, including environmental analysis, a customer needs analysis and what she calls a gap analysis. You may never be called upon to conduct such a wide-ranging analysis. Developments to an information service for which you are responsible may be incremental and may not require anything quite as fundamental; however, note that:
1. As a newcomer to an organisation, you may want to conduct a back-to-basics review that looks closely at the organisation’s main business and how well the information service meets its needs.
2. We are continually being reminded that we live in a society in which the only constant is change, so a far-reaching review may be the order of the day.
3. It is important to take a strategic approach to information service provision and ask what new services should be introduced, as well as posing hard questions such as ‘which offerings should be discontinued?’ (Welch, 2006, p.37): for instance, if we are focussing on developing e-reference services should we be staffing a physical information desk (a thing of the past in many libraries)?
4. You may find yourself with the opportunity to develop a brand new information unit in an organisation or re-engineer an existing one (say, as a result of a merger or de-merger).
5. You may have a specific information service to redevelop: for instance, a public library manager completely revamping a poor youth services section and attempting to replace it with one that is relevant to the local youth community.
Note too the description of a ‘gap analysis’. This is an approach taken in the wider information management sector. Consider the following information management tasks, outlined in a short and invaluable book that was produced by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency in Britain away back in 1990.
1. What are the organisation’s business aims and objectives?
2. What information is needed to support those aims?
3. What information is available in the organisation?
4. Are there differences between needs and provision?
5. What has to be done to match needs and provision?
6. How is information best delivered to users?
7. Is further exploitation of information viable? (1990, pp. 15–30).
It is an ageing statement but it is also a clearly articulated statement of gap analysis and is included for that reason. The set of questions is taken from a guide prepared for the British Civil Service for application in government departments. It has wider application to both public and private enterprises and provides a model that information managers may find useful. To what extent is it applicable in the context of a collecting agency such as a library? What about an archive?
Note that the starting point for information management, according to the CCTA, is ‘an understanding of the department’s business, its aims and objectives’ (1990, p.17), which is in keeping with the strategic approach mentioned earlier in the module. Once the aims are established, one can ask what information is needed to support them. The third question focuses on what information is already available. In the organisational context, this typically involves conducting an information audit, which will produce an information inventory (for instance, details of information held in the department and details of its information systems) and a description of the information held.
Are there differences between needs and provision? In other words, do the information resources identified in the third question actually meet the organisation`s information requirements? If not, what does one need to do to correct this mismatch? These questions are beyond the scope of this module but bear them in mind because these are the kinds of question you would be asking, should you undertake a gap analysis.
Note that the information audit goes beyond an inventory of information resources, such as a library collection, and includes a wide range of sources, services and systems, as well as an analysis of how information is used, exchanged and so on. Do you see this kind of gap analysis as being of value in a collecting agency such as a library? Is it relevant to an archive and the information needs of its potential community?
Information needs analysis
This section focuses on the process of determining information needs, whether these be organisational needs – the field of information managers, knowledge managers, records managers and special librarians – or the needs of less corporate communities such as academic ones or the disparate geographical communities served by agencies such as state libraries and/or public libraries.
You may have come across needs analysis already in your reading, in the form of the information enquiry, in which the information professional attempts to establish the information need(s) of an individual client. Here you are considering the process of establishing the information needs of an organisation or a community of some kind, with a view to developing a user-orientated information service.
Note Michael Middleton’s point (2007, p.194) that this represents a key area of responsibility for information managers, who study ‘the information-seeking behaviour of groups in order to provide services for a particular set of users’, or the system analyst, who is more interested in ‘the process by which information is sought’ than in ‘the particular sources that might be appropriate’. Note too that in the latter field the term ‘information requirements analysis’ is more common.
Zhu, Q. & Guevara, S. (2009), A practical guide for building a user-focused digital library collection.
Silipigni Connaway, L., Lanclos, D., White, D. & Cornu, A. (2013), User-centred decision making: a new model for developing academic library services and systems, IFLA Journal vol. 39 no. 120-29.
This reading is well worth studying because it provides some practical insights into digital library collection development, ones that you are unlikely to find in any of the standard texts on collection development and management. It goes beyond information need to consider issues associated with information provision (so you may want to return to it later in the unit).
Note Zhu’s injunction to build library collections on a sound understanding of ‘your users` information needs, information-seeking behavior, information preferences, and information consumption capabilities’ (2009, p.6) using these steps:
1. Connecting to users (note the various methods, ranging from face-to-face conversations to use of social sites)
2. Scanning the environment (including finding out what is happening in the community and checking out organisational websites)
3. Mining usage logs, which means reviewing information inquiries and mining library circulation and document delivery logs (Zhu, 2009, p.8)
Note too the reference to a specific research technique (as distinct from a research method), namely, studies of usage logs. In information retrieval this generally involves Transaction Log Analysis (TLA), which is the study of the computer logs of people’s searches – a source not just of what clients want but also how they go about searching (hence its use in system development and evaluation).
Topic 2: information provision
The previous topic focussed on information needs analysis, which considers organisational business aims and objectives; the information required to support those aims; the information available in the organisation; the differences between needs and provision; and what needs to be done to match needs and provision (Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency, 1990). This topic examines how libraries and similar information agencies provide the information required to support business aims and objectives, whether these be commercial, educational, cultural or embrace the wide range of objectives associated with, say, a public library.
The field of study (or sub-field, perhaps) is often called collection development or collection management. Some of the textbooks you might come across start of trying to define and differentiate these terms. That can wait until later in the module; however, it is worth recalling the definition of library proposed in the previous module: ‘a collection of information sources arranged in a systematic way for specified users, and managed by qualified personnel’. Leaving aside the fact that this statement contains an element of value judgement (notably, the qualified personnel), it highlights an organised collection as a defining feature of libraries. How librarians develop these collections is very much the focus of this topic, as too are aspects of the management of such collections.
The first sub-topic examines some of the common strategies and tools used in selection of information resources and at variations between types of libraries in selection practice.
Selection of information resources
Responsibility for selection is the key professional component of work in collection development. The processes of turning selections into acquisitions, budget management and so on mostly require professional supervision of administrative functions, but the decision about what should be selected in the first place is crucial.
That decision may be made on a case-by-case basis, especially in a smaller library. In larger libraries it is usually delegated in some way – to staff, to expert library users (such as teachers or professors in an educational institution) or to publishers and vendors, if some variation on blanket ordering is used. If the decision is delegated in some way then it will need continuing oversight.
Common strategies in selection
Consider the following key issues:
1. Do we select what our users say they want, or what we believe they need – what is regarded as ‘good for them’?
2. Should we select what we think will be heavily used, or what is perceived as high quality material? Is there a difference?
3. Who should have the final say in selection – the information professional? The user? The person or body who funds the library?
Not every library has published its selection procedures since such a document is typically addressed more to an internal than to an external audience.
Should libraries publish their selection procedures? Are there any arguments against publication?
Note the suggestion that the principal disadvantage of approval plans, blanket and standing orders is that these strategies abrogate the professional responsibility of the librarian for selection. Further, in passing the responsibility for item-by-item selection to the supplier, a library will receive what is convenient or available, and not necessarily what its users require.
What checks and balances can a library put in place to guard against this potential problem?
Will developing and monitoring these procedures reduce the time saving benefit to the library of having outsourced item-by-item selection in the first place?
If the internet has changed most people’s information searching habits – several recent international surveys have suggested almost everyone with access to the internet starts with Google – then the selection tools available to the collection manager have also changed dramatically. After working through this part of the Module, you should have a better appreciation of some of the tools now available, and how these compare with those used and recommended in the past.
Selection tools fall largely into three broad categories:
1. Bibliographies of various kinds (not always labelled as such) which establish the existence, availability, correct details and price of a resource
3. Publishers and booksellers’ catalogues and listings
The general questions to be asked of any selection tool are:
1. Why does this exist at all? What can it do that is not already done elsewhere?
2. How well does it perform in its coverage of current publishing?
3. What types of material are intentionally included and excluded?
4. What types of material are likely to be excluded because of their very nature, not because of deliberate choice?
5. What subject areas are included and excluded?
6. What kind of information is offered about the works mentioned, and how much of it is offered?
7. For whom is the tool intended – librarians, general readers, subject specialists?
8. What is the tool’s physical format, and is it available in a number of different formats? How frequently does it appear? The format of the selection tool may bear no relationship at all to the formats of the works it covers.
9. How current is it?
10. If it cumulates in some way, what is the pattern of the cumulations? Does each cumulation supersede the earlier cumulations, or must some be kept for specified periods, for instance, pending the arrival of an annual cumulation?
11. What is the form of the classification scheme used? If it differs from the customary Dewey Decimal Classification or Library of Congress Classification, what are the details of the differences?
12. What are the rules for filing, and which subject headings are used?
13. Is there any special methodology or approach which should be employed in order to make best use of it? (chapter 6 of Clayton & Gorman, 2001).
These questions apply equally to print and online tools, or any other, for that matter.
Assume you have been asked to buy something for your library – say a documentary which has recently been shown on TV (something about which school, university and public librarians are frequently asked).
Where would you look to establish its correct name, producers, availability and price?
If you were unsure about the accuracy of the information included in it and needed to see an independent review of it, where would you go?
How many different sources of information can you find about it?
You may want to compare notes with others on the LearnOnline site.
Having identified some selection and verification tools, you might also consider the following questions:
1. Were they freely available or charged for? If all were free, did you unconsciously limit your searching to freely available tools and – given that alternatives were probably available either through the University Library or perhaps your workplace – why?
2. How satisfied were you with their quality? Compare them against the criteria for selection tools suggested above.
3. Did you believe you had the information needed to make an informed purchase decision about the documentary?
Selection in different types of library
Based on your reading so far, you should have some appreciation already of the differences in selection concerns between different types of library.
Shearer B.S., Klatt, C. & Nagy, S.P. (2009), ‘Development of a new academic digital library: A study of usage data of a core medical electronic journal collection’.
As a case study, this may not have general application but it is worth reading in order to gain some idea of the complex decision-making that accompanies collection development in a specific type of library and subject field. Note especially the approach taken to evaluation, the tools used and the specific issues in the selection of ongoing publications such as serials, including the fact that libraries and information and research agencies are typically required to choose amongst publication sets and cannot pick and choose specific journal titles.
Kohl, D.F. (2010), Collection Development in the ARL Library.
Orr, C. (2010), Collection Development in Public Libraries.
Both of these are in Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences (Library`s e-collection). Note the view expressed in the second article (not endorsed here, however true it may be in practice) that marketing is something that libraries do when they’re in trouble!
Choose one of these types of library or one in which you work or hope to work. For that type of library:
What selection criteria are likely to be of special significance?
How important will be the criteria suggested for electronic formats? Do those listed need to be updated, and if so how?
What is different about who is responsible for selection in the type of library you have selected, compared with other types of library?
Imagine you are setting up a digital library in your area of expertise. What selection criteria would be appropriate for this?
Again, you might want to share your thoughts with others in the class.
Issues in selection
One of the issues that you will be asked to consider is censorship, which you will study in the next module, along with other ethical issues. Other issues to consider include (but are not limited to):
1. Limitations indigenous groups might place on the availability of their material
2. The substitution of digital for print resources as the point of first contact for many users (consider your first point of contact as a university student)
3. Digitisation of older materials (covered below).
Cox, R.J. (2009). Archivists and Collecting. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences (Library`s e-collection).
This has a strong North American bias (as do a number of ELIS articles) but this is explained in terms of the strong focus on active collection exhibited by North American archival institutions, which is precisely why it is included here.
Acquisition of information resources
This topic examines some of the common strategies used to acquire different types of material for libraries and some of the typical problems encountered when acquiring electronic resources. You may also come back to ethical issues, namely, those which may arise when one is responsible for spending large amounts of public money.
As noted earlier, the processes of turning selections into acquisitions, budget management and so on mostly require professional supervision of administrative functions. In the end, however, the aim of all these is simply to ensure that a library has the most appropriate resources to meet its clients’ needs.
Acquisitions, then, is the process of getting the right resources, at the right time, at the right price.
Note Helen Welch’s view that `acquisitions is the general term applied to the function of obtaining for the library materials that make up a library’s collection’ (2003, p.76). This is a very traditional view of acquisitions that sees the function in terms of buying and owning a largely physical collection but, as you would know by now, libraries provide their clients with access to major parts of their collections (including books) through subscription. In this topic, acquisitions is treated as the function of providing client access whether through subscription or outright purchase. While each of these has its own processes and issues and may be handled by separate sections in large libraries, they are clearly interrelated and better treated together.
If you work in a library or enjoy friendly relations with a library in which you study or with your local public library, you could try finding out:
Which suppliers it uses. Are any of these suppliers of digital or non-digital content?
Why did it choose these suppliers?
Does it use different suppliers for different types of resource?
Has it done any evaluation of its suppliers?
The following reading explicitly addresses the acquisition of electronic information resources.
Joshipura, S. (2008). Selecting, Acquiring, and Renewing Electronic Resources, in H. Yu & S. Breivold (eds.). Electronic resource management in libraries. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
This is one of the Library`s collection of e-books and can be accessed directly via the Library catalogue.
Timothy D. Jewell, T.J. (2009). Electronic Resource Management. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences (Library`s e-collection).
Note some of the differences between the print and online environments: for instance, the fact that cancellation of an ongoing e-resource, such as a journal (or more typically a suite of journals) generally means loss of all content and not just future issues.
Collection management procedures and Web and other technologies
The Web and more recently social and mobile technologies have provided significant opportunities for collection managers. These include:
1. Vendor address details
4. Best-seller lists
5. Other library catalogues
6. Stock availability
7. Exchange rates
8. Database access
9. Email and other communication media
10. Publisher catalogues
11. Vendor policies
12. Postal Information
13. Shipping Information
14. Online delivery
It is worth considering some of the problems and issues posed. These include:
1. Technical issues
2. Continual change
3. Incomplete coverage
4. Poor bibliographic control
5. Unstable availability: here today, gone tomorrow
6. Dated and inaccurate material
Cooperative collection development
Here, you should consider some of the benefits of library cooperation in terms of pooling collections and sharing the costs of collection management.
Librarians are cooperative people. Much informal cooperation exists, even between colleagues who have never met. It is in part because of this strongly collaborative professional ethos that librarians have sought ways to cooperate, not simply to benefit the individual institutions that they serve but ultimately to advance the common good. This altruistic approach frequently underlies the mechanisms adopted, even when the publicly advanced reasons for cooperation are described in terms of effective use of limited resources and so forth.
If agreements are designed to facilitate collaborative agreements already decided upon, they are much more likely to be effective than ones relying solely on perceptions of individual institutional benefit.
Types of library cooperation
There are several types of library cooperation:
1. Informal networks
2. Interlibrary loan
3. Cooperative ventures outside networks (e.g., joint storage facilities operated by neighbouring libraries)
4. Networks based on shared systems (such as Libraries Australia)
5. Networks based on shared goals (e.g., CAUL or NSLA in Australia).
The term network is used here but note that you will come across references to consortia (plural of consortium). The boundary between network and consortium is blurred but the latter term is generally used to refer to a less formal association than a network, one in which members work together on a number of projects. It could be suggested, for instance, that CAUL and NSLA are consortia, as distinct from networks.
Advantages of cooperation
1. Reduce costs through copy cataloguing
2. Enable better use of resources through inter library loan, reciprocal access etc
3. Provide economies of scale in purchasing, including purchasing of online datasets
4. Offer training
5. Can give flexibility regarding staffing and operations.
Note the vision of library futures outlined in the document, `Re-imagining Libraries 2012–2016`, developed and published by NSLA, National & State Libraries Australasia. NSLA is a leading example in this region of a strong and practical collaborative partnership that has an ongoing program of work and acts as a leading advocate to governments and others on behalf of libraries: http://www.nsla.org.au/reimagining-libraries.
Managers are always aware of course that there is sometimes a downside.
Potential disadvantages of networks
1. Loss of control
2. Centrally incurred costs
3. Interface between the local and the shared system
4. Authority control, if cataloguing is shared.
(Note: Authority control is the other face of operating a controlled vocabulary system. These topics are covered elsewhere in your course but in case you have not encountered them here is a simple (and much used) example: do you want the library’s books catalogued under ‘Clemens, Samuel’ (his real name) or ‘Twain, Mark’ (the name he published them under – and the correct one, according to the cataloguing standard, AACR2)? The one thing you really do not want is some books under one name and some under the other. Checking that this does not happen is called authority control, and takes time and expertise and so is expensive to have done.)
Issues networks need to address:
2. Risk management
3. The complexity that comes with increasing size
4. The belief that technology will necessarily deliver what it promises.
Governance needs to:
1. Provide legitimacy
2. Allow the network to draw upon the expertise of its members
3. Provide feedback
4. Provide a legal structure for stability, and to specify rights and responsibilities
5. Provide financial security
6. Enable rapid response to changes.
These are often addressed through legal agreements signed by members, and by a network of committees: elected, based on expertise and designed to provide user feedback.
Breeding, M. (2014). Resource Sharing in Libraries: Concepts, Products, Technologies, and Trends. Chicago: American Library Association.
This is another of the Library`s e-books, which you can access via its catalogue. No, I`m not suggesting you read the whole book for this unit but it would be worth reading the introductory chapter.
Go to the Web and find examples of collaborative partnerships. Choose from within your region or from a type of library with which you are familiar – and see if you can find an example in which the same library belongs to multiple consortia or cooperative agreements.
1. Do these appear to complement each other or are there areas of overlap or competition?
2. Does the collaborative activity appear to have some or all of the elements suggested as desirable in a successful cooperative venture?
3. How has the library attempted to deal with any areas of potential overlap?
4. Can you find out if the consortia themselves have sought ways in which to minimise the potential impact of having members with such multiple memberships?
Again, you could use the unit’s Moodle site to compare notes.
An audit is an independent annual examination of the financial affairs of an organisation to ensure that accounting practices have been followed and that statutory requirements have been met. Critical factors include:
1. Limitations of fraud
2. Delegation of financial authority
3. Records of ‘accountable’ items
Few large libraries undertake full stock-takes due to excessive costs. Sample stock-takes generally satisfy most auditors. Most libraries simply add new items, delete ‘deselected’ items (discussed below) then estimate a monetary value. Comprehensive stock-takes are more common in small libraries and collections. Note, however, that technology developments can make comprehensive stock-takes more feasible: for instance, the use of Radio Frequency Identification tags (RFIDs) of the kind used for years in the retail and other industries and increasingly in libraries streamline stocktaking considerably (although you should be aware of strong privacy concerns and measures in the retail and library sectors).
Data processing of the kind conducted in acquisitions departments is well suited to computerisation. Many of the procedures involved are routine, predictable, time-consuming and labour-intensive, and accounting procedures are relatively complex.
Like circulation systems (which you have probably encountered as a library user), acquisition systems are transaction-based information systems, concerned with the everyday operational aspects of the library, such as the ordering of library resources, their receipt and the management of financial data. An acquisition system (or sub-system, since it is normally part of an integrated library management system) is an example of a data processing system. Data processing systems transform well-defined data, according to well-defined rules, to some ‘normal form’. In this case, an acquisition system transforms data on an order (such as order date, supplier, number of items ordered and receipt) into a completed order transaction – the ‘normal form’ of the transaction.
The information resources on order are represented in the acquisition system as ‘on order’, while the funds necessary to cover the purchase are committed, in the system, to be ‘moved’ from a library fund to the supplier. Once the information resources have been moved from the supplier to the library, they are receipted, their status changes to ‘in stock’ or ‘in process’ (which would indicate that the item has arrived and in all likelihood is being catalogued) and the funds committed for their purchase are ‘moved’ into expenditure.
The basic features of an acquisition system are:
1. creation and dispatch of orders
2. receipt of orders and fund accounting
3. claiming for or cancellation of outstanding orders.
Note that the initial record includes the bibliographic information that will form the basis of a catalogue record. Indeed, integrated library management systems allow that information to be shared with the cataloguing function so that data are not input twice. Moreover, clients can actually see in the catalogue that an item is on order. Other information required includes supplier and fund information, and typically files can be set up in advance: for instance, a supplier file, separate from the order file, will contain data such as names and addresses of suppliers and supplier codes. For those who are interested in such things, the supplier code becomes the link between the order file and the supplier file.
The library will generally also have the option of setting up separate fund files, in the event of each branch library or department having a budget of its own. A separate file would be established in advance, so that operators creating an order need enter only the appropriate fund codes against particular items (and not details of the branch/department).
When items are received, operators need to be able to retrieve the order record through a choice of bibliographic fields, order number or supplier code (in the case of a batch order). The acquisitions system will also be expected to update fund details from money committed to money expended and to provide financial reports summarising fund allocations, commitments, expenditures and balances. Once material is receipted, the operator should be able to process invoices and payments.
Finally, systems should be able to generate claims for items not received within the specified periods. Acquisitions staff should be able to define acceptable delivery periods for specific orders or for batches of orders dispatched to specific vendors. In the case of non-receipt of items within specified periods, options include automatic generation of claims notices or the generation of an overdue report.
Smith, P.A. & Sasse, M. (2009), Automated Acquisitions. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences (Library`s e-collection).
Bilal, D. (2014). Library Automation. Santa Barbara : ABC-CLIO. 3rd ed.
This is currently available in the Library`s collection as an e-book. Chapter 1 covers Integrated Library Systems (ILS), otherwise known as Library Management Systems, and includes sections on acquisitions and serials modules.
It is interesting to note that in the 2003 edition of ELIS, a paper on acquisitions should suggest that uptake of computer-based acquisitions systems/sub-systems should be so slow in the USA (whether that was the case is debatable). Such is the growth in the availability of electronic resources, especially ongoing resources such as serials, that the ‘legacy’ integrated library management systems, with their acquisitions and serials modules (sub-systems), are not necessarily the most effective means of managing e-content, hence the development of electronic resource management systems (ERMS), which supplement existing systems.
Yu, H. & S. Breivold, S. (eds.), (2008). Electronic resource management in libraries. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
Note that ERMS is the focus of the last few chapters in this collection in the Library`s e-collection. Although the collection is `ageing`, some of the chapters are nonetheless a good introduction to the field. See also:
Jewell, T.D. (2009). Electronic Resource Management. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences (Library`s e-collection).
The technical standards that underlie electronic resource management are covered elsewhere in your course (Information Organisation and Description) but they are worth reviewing here in context. You may have come across the OpenURL Framework, which is a key standard and represents an attempt by the National Information Standards Organization in the USA (NISO) to develop a common syntax for transporting metadata in a URL. The OpenURL includes metadata (such as Dublin Core) and/or identifiers (such as ISBN) about an information object, which provide an OpenURL server with standardised text with which to search. Examples you have probably encountered already as a library user take the form of links from citations to full text, using the ‘SFX’ product developed by ex-Libris (an integrated library management system vendor).
The other main standard in this context is Digital Object Identifiers (DOI). The early part of the chapter, ‘Beyond OpenURL’ by Boston and Gedeon, in the in Yu & Breivold collection, contains a good overview of the standards supporting the linking of metadata and e-content in the library environment.
Evans, G. Edward, 2012, E-resources and technology issues.
Deselection of information resources
In the digital information environment, which is central to this course, deselection may not be an issue because access to e-content is largely provided by external vendors, which typically have huge archived files, with client access lasting only for as long as the information agency pays its subscription fees. As you will have read, libraries generally find themselves subscribing to a raft of resources such as journals and, more recently, book are in no position to deselect those resources they do not want or no longer want in the ‘collection’. Nonetheless there are resources, especially non-digital resources that can be deselected (removed from the collection) or, to use a quaint term often used in the library environment, ‘weeded’.
Deselection, as the name suggests, comes at the end of the information lifecycle, along with preservation (see the next topic). In the records management environment this might be called ‘disposal’, which refers to the transfer of records from ‘active’ storage either to an archive (for preservation and inactive storage) or to complete ‘inactivity’ – destruction of some kind.
Why spend time and energy on deselection?
Unlike preservation, which is at present very much a hot topic, physical deselection or ‘weeding’ suffers from several problems:
1. It can be dirty, boring, time-consuming work, and often physically demanding if one is dealing with large, old, underused items inconveniently housed
2. At the end of the job, in a world where often it is thought ‘bigger = better’, one has fewer items in a smaller collection
3. Our professional ethos is to keep, to preserve – not to throw away
4. Mistakes may be permanent.
Why bother? Possible reasons for bothering include:
1. The material and the information is out of date
2. The material is physically damaged or worn out
3. Better editions are available
4. Duplicate copies are no longer required
5. Community/organisational needs have changed
6. Institutional objectives have changed so that library objectives must change also
7. The item should not have been bought in the first place
8. Unwanted material can get in the way: it has a ‘hindrance effect’
9. Open access storage is more expensive and cannot be justified for low use items
10. The overall costs of collection storage and maintenance are ongoing.
A survey of US and Canadian public libraries some years ago found that the three most common criteria for weeding were circulation figures, physical condition and accuracy of information (Dilevko & Gottlieb, 2003).
If you do read about library deselection, you will probably come across references to a book by Stanley Slote called Weeding Library Collections: Library Weeding Methods, which made it into four editions. Slote has sometimes been called the guru of library weeding – an interesting epithet and claim to fame.
Believe it or not, there are websites that can provide you with information and guidance on deselection. At the time of writing, for instance, there is a webography, Weeding in Libraries, a partial index to what’s out there: accessed at http://www.havana.lib.il.us/weeding/ (one or two dead links but that`s to be expected).
As in the case of collection evaluation (covered below), with which deselection is closely connected, integrated library management systems can aid the decision-making process through reports produced by their management information systems (MIS). Reports generated to assist deselection are generally on-demand reports (as distinct from routine summary reports), consisting of lists or analysed statistics. These include:
• lists of items never issued on the automated system or not circulating in a specified period (‘dusty book’ lists)
• lists of items loaned less than a specified number of times in a specified period
• lists of items by date of publication (or those items with publication dates earlier than a specified year)
• lists of items by call number range and by date of publication, and
• loans figures by date of publication or by call number range and by date of publication.
Note that having a quantitative method for assessing collection activity can assist collection managers not just to weed collections, but also to evaluate policies and procedures (also discussed below).
It should by now be apparent that weeding is not simply something a collections manager does, based on his or her knowledge and experience: it has to be a formal process, determined by agreed policy, which is in turn informed by relevant research (some local, some sector-wide) about usage patterns.
Federal Library and Information Network (FEDLINK), Education Working Group. (2014). Handbook of Federal Librarianship. Library of Congress/FEDLINK. Accessed at http://www.loc.gov/flicc/publications/LibHandbook2014/HandbookforFedLib2014final2.pdf.
This brief handbook obviously has a US focus but you may find it a useful overview of the field. Chapter 3, pp.18-25, is about resources and collections and includes sections on deselection and on collection development policy (discussed later in this module).
Topic 3: preservation of information resources
This topic covers the preservation of information resources, which could form a unit in its own right. While trying to give you an overview of the field, it will focus on specific areas, namely, how to store and handle paper-based materials in order to extend their lives as long as possible; the importance of disaster preparedness; and some of the issues involved in both digitisation of material and the preservation of digital objects.
One of the core values of agencies such as libraries and archives throughout human history has been their role in the preservation of human knowledge. While information and the agencies themselves are increasingly digital, this role continues.
Just to make sure that everyone is speaking the same language, these are the generally accepted meanings of the terms used, not just in this topic but in professional practice:
Preservation is the generic term, and includes all activities associated with the maintenance of resources and the preservation of information content.
Conservation refers to the treatment of the physical items themselves in order to extend their useable life.
Restoration involves treating damaged material to return it as close as possible to its original state. You will not be considering restoration in this topic – it’s an academic discipline in itself, and large libraries and archives employ conservators to undertake restoration (and advise on preservation and conservation more generally).
Preservation of paper-based materials
You will find an article called ‘Conservation and preservation of library and archival materials’ (Cloonan, 2010) in the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science in the Library`s e-collection, if you want to read a good introduction to the preservation of information resources in the ‘traditional’ library environment. Much of the older literature on preservation in libraries focusses, for obvious reasons, on paper. Other than digital resources, this obviously comprises the principal storage medium for many libraries and archives, so it is important, in this sector, to understand the main problems and solutions.
Note, however, that some of the solutions carry their own problems, including digital solutions (which are discussed later in the topic) and the audio-visual solutions that preceded them. While microfilming of fragile and low-quality newspapers (‘low-quality’ in terms of paper quality, which decreased over the years for reasons of cost) may have provided a short- to medium-term solution, audio-visual media themselves have a surprisingly short life expectancy. Both audio-visual and digital solutions come with costs (not necessarily financial costs) and risks. Sometimes the strategies adopted to overcome one problem simply lead to new ones.
For a useful listing of some of the most common preservation problems and suggested strategies to address them, you could look at a section of the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records site (http://www.lib.az.us/). At the time of writing (!), the section for librarians included ‘Collection Development Training’ modules, including Preservation (and Weeding).
Think of the library you know best – perhaps one you work in or use on a regular basis.
Are the environmental conditions apparently designed to suit the collection or to suit its readers? Is there any sign of environmental monitoring of rare or valuable items? Can sunlight fall on material?
Examine the book return arrangements. Are these designed to minimise handling damage? Is any guidance routinely provided to readers on looking after library materials?
This section stresses the importance of disaster preparedness and introduces you to the idea of a disaster plan and what it might include. You may recall that the ELIS article to which you were referred earlier contained a section on disaster planning. You may not have thought of disaster planning as a significant library concern but consider the investment tied up in many of our libraries – not simply the financial investment (important as that may be) but also the societal and organisational value invested in many of the leading collecting institutions you studied earlier in the unit.
You will find leading libraries, archives and records offices a good source of information, advice and resources on preservation issues. See, for instance, the National Library of Australia’s publishes a Collection Disaster Plan, currently accessed at http://www.nla.gov.au/policy-and-planning/collection-disaster-plan, and the National Archives of Australia has useful information under Preserving Digital Records, currently at http://naa.gov.au/collection/preserving/digital-records/index.aspx.
Davis, S., Smith-Hunt, A.P. & Kern, K. (2009). Disaster Planning and Recovery for Cultural Institutions. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences (Library e-collection).
If you have ever been involved in a library disaster of some kind or know of one, you may be prepared to share your experiences with the rest of the class.
This subtopic deals with some of the issues involved in both digitisation of material and the preservation of digital objects – in other words:
• digitisation of items already held by an information agency, both published and unpublished works (such as manuscripts)
• preservation of items ‘born digital’: i.e., those first created as digital items (websites are just one example).
This is the really interesting part of the topic. The whole area has been something of a ‘hot topic’ in library and archive worlds for several years and there is an enormous amount of material available both in print (no irony intended) and online that discusses some of the issues.
Note that there are different reasons for a library or an archive to undertake a digitisation project. Preservation may be a major factor, especially in the case of fragile material that does not bear frequent handling, but another major one is that of widening access to resources to which clients would otherwise have to travel.
Archives have frequently been ahead of libraries in considering the issues associated with digitisation programs, no doubt because their collections consist primarily of unique and frequently fragile items, subject to possible damage if heavily or even carelessly used. Note the whole issue of access, however, and what digitisation can achieve for scholarship and research.
It is worth mentioning that over the years there have been a few cautionary noises on the subject of digitisation. Note, for instance, that:
1. the time and resources required to digitise non-digital material
2. the danger that an increasing part of our ‘cultural heritage’ fall into the hands of commercial providers that have no interest in or understanding of preservation needs
3. digitisation conducted with a view to preserving fragile material is not a substitute for conservation of the original material because of its potential value as `artefact` in its original format.
Regardless of such issues, we have a considerable investment in digital collection and of course ‘born digital’ items will have to be preserved digitally and, as already noted, digital data are ‘fragile’ for a number of reasons.
Gregory, V.L. (2011), ‘Preservation’.
Gregory’s chapter covers a range of resources, physical and digital, and includes disaster preparation, which was mentioned earlier. Note especially the types of digital resource that require preservation, listed p.191. There are clearly significant costs associated with a preservation program that includes a range of media on this scale, not least the costs of human time.
You should also consider the question of ownership. There will inevitably be unique digital objects that belong to a specific library and which may therefore be the responsibility of the library to preserve, if they are regarded as being of sufficient long-term value. There are also a large number of digital objects to which the library subscribes under licence, most of them in journal subscriptions but increasingly also e-books. Who is responsible for their preservation?
Note also Gregory’s reference (pp.193-194) to ‘dim archives’ and ‘dark archives’. The collaborative ventures she describes – nothing new about collaborative and consortial arrangements - have considerable potential in terms of back-up and disaster preparation but consider also the fact that libraries and archives, which have traditionally taken responsibility for preservation of collections (note the earlier reference to moral obligation) are outsourcing that responsibility. In the case of archives stored using cloud computing. In such cases, the preservation function is outsourced to private companies so libraries, archives and other collecting institutions need to consider legal protection, in the event of companies or other organisations becoming defunct.
For an example of a digital preservation policy, see the National Library of Australia’s website: http://www.nla.gov.au/policy/digpres.html.
Note the issues associated with long-term preservation of web resources. How much of our cultural heritage can we expect to survive, especially records and so on from the commercial sector, which has understandably left it to collecting institutions to take responsibility – if, indeed, the sector has given them a second thought. One cannot assume that all these resources will be preserved for posterity – indeed, it seems far safer to assume that they will not, without the intervention of leading collecting institutions and support for their interventions.
You should check out the National Library of Australia’s website (if you have not already done so) and the lengths to which the NLA has gone to preserve national heritage.Note, for instance, Pandora, ‘Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia’ (http://pandora.nla.gov.au), which was an attempt - well, the title is self-explanatory - using web harvesting techniques. There are resources there that no longer exist on the ‘open’ Web (you may find this useful on occasion).
Skinner, K. & Halbert, M. ‘The MetaArchive Cooperative: A collaborative approach to distributed digital preservation’.
Just as libraries and other collecting institutions collaborate in areas such as resource discovery and resource sharing, so in the area of preservation. This reading outlines an attempt in the USA to develop a structure for a collaborative approach to digital preservation. Note the reference to `Conspectus`, which was a collaborative venture and a means of indicating individual collection strengths and collecting intentions to collaborating institutions.
Topic 4: management issues
Legal and ethical issues
Before moving on to consider some specific aspects of acquisitions, it is worth pondering the fact that, as in so many other areas of information work, there are ethical issues that can be raised. Have a look at the American Library Association‘s (ALA’s) Statement on Principles and Standards of Acquisitions Practice, currently at:
Beware ‘sharp practice’! Can you find any other, similar statements on ethics and collection management?
Many of the legal issues confronting information professionals in the field of acquisitions and access revolve around copyright and intellectual property. Copyright could constitute an academic unit in its own right and in any case the legal details change regularly and vary from country to country, so in this module you will study only the basic principles.
Note, if you have not already, that copyright is a major issue for the information professions and, indeed, many large libraries (especially academic and research ones) have gone to the lengths of employing specialist copyright officers. In some cases, they offer advice to the whole organisation and not just the library.
You have already come across some references to licensing. Licenses are the agreements whereby vendors grant libraries and their clients access rights to the e-resources to which libraries subscribe. It is worth noting Kennedy’s point (2006, p.76) that ‘Licensors commonly do not permit a library to do with licensed material everything that copyright law might permit, much less everything that is technically feasible. They are very likely to impose restrictions on who can use the material and where they can use it.’
In large libraries, considerable staff time goes into the development of licenses. It is an area that requires special skills, not least the art of negotiation (where suppliers permit negotiation of course!). Note, too, the common view that licences are difficult to develop the first time a library or consortium approaches a specific supplier (distributor or publisher) but, once that first licence has been agreed, subsequent ones are a lo