Data Driven Collection Development: Opportunities and Pitfalls Wil Weston
Who is driving “Data Driven CollectionDevelopment”? In 2008 financial markets fell apart. (CD, Sept., 2008) 2009, ICOLC issues statement; that they consider the financial crises of such significance that they could not “simply assume libraries and publishers share the same perspective.” As it turns out, this turned out to be quite prophetic. (Worst materials cancelation in SDSU library history that summer. Some publishers held their prices… others did not.) Meeting new accountability and budgetary demands placed upon the entire university; while we still strive to meet the faculty and students’ curricular and research needs. (We needed to demonstrate the collections use. Are we spending our money wisely?) Not a new concept. In a collection evaluation article from 1979, Paul Mosher advocates for measuring a collection development policy’s effectiveness to keep from falling down the “bottomless pit” of library acquisitions. I believe that libraries have been and continue to be superb stewards of their budgets; however, the current economic climate demands that we prove it. We are not being asked any more than any other department on campus is being asked. More importantly, we do have the means to prove it.)Mosher ,P. (1979, Winter). Collection evaluation in research libraries: the search for quality. Library Resources & Technical Services 23 (1),16-32.Bullington, J.C. (2009). About ICOLC and the ICOLC Statement on the Global Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Consortial Licenses. Collaborative Librarianship 1 (4), 156-161. URL: http://www.collaborativelibrarianship.org/index.php/jocl/article/viewArticle/52
Who is driving “Data Driven CollectionDevelopment”? How do we prove it? (Data! Well, data and, as always, the subject expertise, outreach, and liaison work of the librarians. Data must have a context in order to be interpreted correctly.) More data is available and is collected than ever before with the widespread adoption of electronic resources to replace print materials. (Vendor usage and turn-away reports.) Questions like, “Is the collection reflecting the changing needs of our evolving academic programs, research interests, and new interdisciplinary studies?” can be answered. (Now we can tell. We can see what is being used at a very granular level: article by article; ebook by ebook; request by request) There is no longer a need for as heavy a reliance on perceived institutional use. (We can see what the use is by our users, now we must interpret the data to try to meet their continually evolving information demands.) Through combining different data sources to get a clearer picture of how materials are being used. (Usage, ILL, Citation analysis: JCR or LJUR, and turn-away reports) By placing this data in the hands of the subject specialist; they can have more informed discussions about the collection and its use.
What statistics to use? There is no one model that fits all libraries. (Culture, programs, organizational issues) Select the evaluation indicators as they apply to your situation. Collection practices will become more patron centric. Patron driven focus may seem counter to consortium-level collection development. (Declining budgets, shrinking building space, expanding and interdisciplinary programs) It is increasingly imperative the consortia work with the collection needs of its individual libraries. Libraries must be able to articulate what those needs are for their patrons. What is core for your patrons? (Is it really Springer journals?) Use the data to make your case.
Opportunities and Pitfalls Hard statistics must guide collection development, but they need to be supplemented by input from the user community and subject specialists. – Opportunity to create a scalable, flexible and tailored library collection for your users. – Pitfall to misinterpret use patterns in a vacuum. Data is most useful when it is shared and combine with qualitative information.
Opportunities and Pitfalls Keep your data up-to-date. Maintain a data bank of collection assessment can quickly become overwhelming. – Opportunity to tie your data to the University mission and specific library goals. Support institutional effectiveness. – Pitfall to try to collect and manage too much data, such that the data becomes unusable because it is so overwhelming to manage. “There is no time to do assessment.” Or, worse, “Mistakes were made.”
Opportunities and Pitfalls Think globally; act locally. Approach your assessment from a philosophical point of view. Create local solutions to fit the philosophy. The statistics and the data the library receives may change, but the way the data is used should remain the same. – Opportunity to describe the collection to your patrons and how it seeks to meet their information needs. – Pitfall to bury them in numbers, bar graphs and spreadsheets. Anecdotal and specific examples should be used to explain the data. (Everyone likes a good story.)