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Radically Rethinking the Collection, Part 1: A New Context for Libraries

Rick Anderson Associate Dean Scholarly Resources & Collections

Temperature Check #1
Agree or disagree with the following statement:
The library collection (in whatever format) is increasingly important in the lives of our patrons.

J. Willard Marriott Library

Recent History I: The Gutenberg Terror

Information tied to physical objects, therefore tied to physical locations
Text contained in physical documents, therefore searchable only by reading Texts searchable only by reading, therefore findable only by means of searchable proxies

J. Willard Marriott Library

Recent History II: The Digital Era

Emancipation

Texts fully searchable  Texts available remotely  Texts available 24/7  Texts available to multiple simultaneous users

Complication

Texts have no physical properties  Concept of “ownership” erodes  Concept of “sharing” becomes weird  Risk of loss becomes ambiguous (If your library burns…) J. Willard Marriott Library

The Library as a Conservative Institution

Education
Preservation Organization

J. Willard Marriott Library

Current Reality: Why Do We “Collect”?

To preserve (Special Collections)
To provide access, by

Gathering information objects into a central location (or, in the case of digital objects, “location”)  Organizing those objects and/or creating metadata to make them findable  Preserving them in some way to make access to them permanent, or at least functionally permanent

J. Willard Marriott Library

Bottom Line: Collecting Is a Means, Not an End

J. Willard Marriott Library

Erosion of the Collecting Impulse, Part I

Approval plans (outsourced selection)
Journal packages (bulk vs. selective buying) Ebook packages (bulk vs. selective buying)

J. Willard Marriott Library

Erosion of the Collecting Impulse, Part II

Flows vs. Stockpiles
 Pond

(individual library collection)  River (constant flow of new content)  Ocean (massive digital archives)

J. Willard Marriott Library

Temperature Check #2
Agree or disagree with the following statement:
“Given functionally unlimited choices, patrons will tend to select resources that are less than optimal for their research purposes.”

J. Willard Marriott Library

Next Time: Accessing the Flow in Your Library

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How does PDA work? What are some budget-control strategies? How can it work for books vs. articles? Print-on-Demand: Outsourced and in-sourced Limitations of PDA Possible models for the future

J. Willard Marriott Library