It Can Be Done! Planning and Process for Successful Collection Management Projects

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W. Lee Hisle (speaker)

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  • Glad to be here today… to talk about the successful Collection Management Project we’ve recently completed at Connecticut College… a process started early last fall. I’ll share our planning, the principles of the project, our communications strategy and the data we used to help “sell” the project to the campus. And I’ll conclude with some lessons learned. But the bottom line is, a CMP can be done successfully.
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  • Here’s the overall reason we needed to embark on a CMP… the Campaign for Connecticut College was just concluded actually about two weeks ago.. and the last capital project of the campaign is the renovation of the Charles E. Shain Library… a renovation in planning for over 15 years.
  • As you can see, we’ll be making significant improvements to the appearance of our building, adding a plaza at the front, and adding significantly more natural light…
  • Other improvements include substantially more seating, more collarbation spaces, a 24 hour study area in our café, and so on…. Lots of improvements, but no net gain in new square feet in the building… bringing the Academic Resource Center into the building at about 2500 sq ft… and adding about 2500 sq ft at the entry to the building… but no net gain. How?
  • We had problem…. A renovation was proposed, but no new space planned— The only flexible area in the building… without reducing services, student seating and programs… is the book-stack area… So our solution….
  • Was to reduce our bookstack footprint by about a third….
     
    We looked at other options of course… off site storage with annual rental costs… and even building a facility for storage that we might have leased part of to other colleges… but none made financial sense (they’d all have been part of the project cost)… and frankly, I think it’s kind of nuts to be construct a building to store old print collections that are widely available elsewhere… So…
  • … we needed to identify 45,000 possible candidates for de-selection and then remove some 35-38,000 items out of our collection to allow for book-stack space reduction and still have room for 5-7 years of growth and the new seating and services in the renovated building
  • Here’s an outline of our Process: We tried to be methodical about this… planning the whole effort… we knew of the challenges other libraries have had with similar projects…
     
    We avoided an announcement before substantial groundwork had been done… we didn’t want to surprise anyone… especially anyone that might be a problem… so we kept our plans pretty close to the vest, did the legwork … and tested our message … until we were ready to share…
     
    And I’d make a special note about having patience… something I’m not personally noted for… we didn’t want to rush the faculty into making decisions, but at the same time, we didn’t want it to drag out too far… So we considered the academic calendar and announced the project publically to start on Nov 1st last year and to conclude on July 1st of this year… allowing a Thanksgiving break, a winter holiday, a spring break, a spring semester, and some 6 weeks after commencement. I think this helped us set a date and hold to it…. (because even after the de-selection decisions were made, we still had to physically pull materials from the collection, remove them from our database, box them, and ship the out… all before we can start the adjustment of the stack arrangement to get to the 1/3 smaller footprint we are aiming for….
  • Our Collection Management Project would “selectively de-accession appropriate materials…etc. etc.” Of course, a key question is how to determine “appropriate..” So, one of the first things we did was to articulate Project Principles that would guide our work… and that would resonate with the campus… and be defensible with the faculty. These are key: READ THEM and explain them…
    Important thing here… from a faculty point of view…. We emphasized “RETENTION” … not de-selection. They were making decisions on what to “retain” … indirectly, on what to de-select.
  •  Our Communications Strategy was intentional… starting with conversations among our own staff…. Librarians and other library professionals…
    And let me say here… we avoided the word “weeding”… fire in a crowded theatre… it has such a negative connotations, we rarely used even among ourselves… and never with other groups…
     Then on to administrators… up through the provost and the president… they need to be aware and completely supportive (in case of faculty rebellion)
    Then we approached the SGA… student leaders… because the benefit of this project most directly affects them… (new seating and services in the library)
    Then… faculty leadership… not just about the principles… but asking their advice on how to proceed… get them to be part of the effort! (And remember that faculty leaders have to put up with prickly faculty too…)
    Then – one on one meetings with “prickly” faculty… they appreciate the attention… and even if they don’t agree, at least you asked and listened… need to hold firm though.
     Finally, a general announcement was made… with Principles articulated, key data referenced, and timeline… we found that by the time the general announcement was made, most everyone was aware it was coming and were on board…
     So we had a series of Open Forums (with library and supportive faculty on hand) for faculty to come and give us what for… only one faculty member showed up!
  • Of course the other side of a Communications Strategy are the key messages: many of these reflect the Project Principles of course.. but we kept hammering on the benefits of the project to our students and to the College….the Big Picture…. on the changing nature of information access…. (And we used data to support that argument… ) We emphasized that there would be no loss of access of course… and we were always careful to emphasize the importance of faculty involvement… and the amount of time they would have to make their retention decisions.
  • The Key Data elements we used –
     
    The ethnographic study helped us understand what students needed in the renovated library… for example, that group assignments rarely were made to groups larger than three… that substantial individualized study was needed… and the lots of electrical outlets would be ideal.
    Also looked at how our collections were being used… and could show the drop in circulation of print monographs by discipline area… 28% but much higher in some disciplines (even social science areas)…
    Up to 100K ebrary holdings… and 300K total ebook items…
  • Then we also manipulated data we had….SCS or Sustainable Collection Services (Rick Lugg and Ruth Fisher) did a collection analysis…. Let me say how important it is to use an outside firm for this work… gives cachet… ensures bullet-proof defenses…. Gives you time to communicate…
    Using these criteria on our monographic collection of some 400K titles….
    Go through criteria…. Each of these items was tweaked to see how it would affect final numbers….
    Finally… we had a list of over 45K items, -- we needed 35K for sure, although I told everybody that we needed 38K… I wanted some wiggle-room.
  • Persuasion---- Developed a presentation laying out the advantages of a renovated Shain Library for the students, faculty and college….. We showed a lot of architectural renderings… trying build desire for the outcome… a beautifully renovated space with the improved services our community needs…..
    Had a number of Campus conversations… with individual faculty members who we knew would be prickly…we meet with Faculty Leadership… we met with Student Government leaders, and Open Forums as well….
    And we offered everyone the trade… collections footprint vs. seating….
    And we ensured faculty would be involved …. Shared the online de-selection tool we developed….. Piloted it with key faculty leader-volunteers (including some prickly ones)….
  • Our vision of a transformed Shain Library… with more seating, collaboration spaces, 24 hour study/café, technology commons, and improved connection to campus life and presence.
  • It Can Be Done! Planning and Process for Successful Collection Management Projects

    1. 1. Collection Management Project: IT CAN BE DONE W. Lee Hisle Connecticut College November 7, 2013
    2. 2. a new vision for the Charles E. Shain Library Schwartz/Silver Architects
    3. 3. Schwartz/Silver Architects
    4. 4. SHAIN LIBRARY RENOVATION Building Project Goals: 100+ More Seats Total 10 More Collaboration Rooms 2 New Reading Rooms Reception Space Café and 24-Hour Study Technology Commons Academic Resource Center Digital Scholarship Center and Advanced Tech Lab More Natural Light Electricity!
    5. 5. PROBLEM: Renovation Proposed BUT: Limited Additional Space Planned
    6. 6. SOLUTION Reduce Bookstack Footprint in Current Space 33%
    7. 7. SOLUTION refined… Identify 45,000 candidates Remove 35,000 Reduction of 35K items = 33% Reduction in Bookstack Footprint
    8. 8. Collection Management Project: Process • • • • Establish Project Principles Plan Communications Strategy Find Data to Support Arguments Seek Support from – Staff and Administrators – Students – Faculty • Develop Online Tool for Retention • Be Patient and Follow the Plan
    9. 9. Project Principles • • • • Avoid loss of access to any item Make best use of space in Shain Library Control cost of renovation Retain key collection materials, based on established de-selection criteria • Involve faculty in decisions about retention • Provide robust and intuitive selection tool for faculty use
    10. 10. Communications Strategy Politics •Staff and Administrators •Student Leadership •Faculty Leadership •Key Prickly Faculty … One on One Meetings •Announcement of Project …After Groundwork --Principles --Key Data --Timeline •Open Forums– Students and Faculty –Focus on Benefits and Use Data To Persuade
    11. 11. Communications Strategy Key Messages – Focus on Benefits to Faculty and Students – Planned Process: Principles Clearly Stated – Nature of Information Access is Changing • Use Data to Support – No Loss of Access Possible • Use Data to Support – Faculty Will Be Involved in Decisions • Intuitive Tool to Assist – No Rush
    12. 12. Key Data •Ethnographic Study: – Established Need for Study Spaces •Print Monographic Use – 6 year analysis: Use down 28% •eBook Use – 5 year analysis: Up 181% •Full-text Downloads – 3 year analysis: Up 90%
    13. 13. Data Manipulated: De-Selection Criteria • Circulation Statistics, CTW Bibliographic Records, OCLC Bib Records To Create • Candidate criteria: • Item available at Trinity or Wesleyan, sometimes both • Item also available at 30 other academic libraries in the US • Published prior to 1993 (20 years ago) • Purchased prior to 2003 (10 years ago) • No more than 2 circulations… ever… • No circulations... at all… after 2002 • Materials authored by Conn College faculty excluded
    14. 14. Lessons Learned • Importance of Larger Goal: Renovation Project • Importance of One-on-One Conversations • Importance of Data to Support Arguments • Importance of Convenient Retention Tool • Online • Pilot Tested • Importance of CTW Partners • Importance of Patience
    15. 15. Collect ion Man agem en t P r oject : Valu e Schwartz/Silver Architects
    16. 16. Thanks W. Lee Hisle wlhis@conncoll.edu

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