19 July 2013

Collection development on a shoestring

Not sure whether this may become a series of posts, Collection Development On A Shoestring. For now, just a couple of ideas.

I have been thinking about the implications of the forthcoming funding cut on learning resources in my college; I expect 40-45% drop in comparison to the last year. Two immediate ideas regarding book collection development: (1) reducing the variety of titles we purchase and (2) moving more copies to short loan and reference-only status.

Collection development will have to become more focused on the most essential and only best titles. The number of their copies may stay the same or even increase. Anything additional, optional will have to go. Eventually, this may lead to better utilisation of the collection.

Last year I noticed a huge increase in enquiries for books on Marx. We’ve immediately purchased a good selection of them. Almost all were snapped by a couple of students: each could borrow up to ten different titles. If we bought just two carefully selected books, six copies each, then six students could have them at the same time. This, of course, poses a question about how strong the library’s links with tutors are and how much of help tutors can be.

The only exception I can think of is Access to HE students: they often research unusual and polemical topics, and therefore they may suffer from a too prescriptive collection development practice. E-books may be the best solution for addressing their needs. It’s easier with HE students: they normally get detailed reading lists and universities expect college libraries to provide access to the titles on those lists. Most of FE-specific programmes rely heavily or even exclusively on one textbook. Providing those textbooks may be of more importance to learners than books purchased “just in case”.

More reference-only copies will be disappointing to students who don’t have time or desire to study in the library. Librarians should promote copying and scanning services the CLA licence affords us with to address – at least partially – this problem.

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