Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Collection Development in the Digital Age

This book has been hanging around in my house waiting to be read for a few months now. I figured it was getting ridiculous, and when it was due to be renewed for the fourth time I decided to finally bite the bullet and finish reading it.

Not that it's a particularly bad read. If you work in the area of open access, like me, it's actually pretty interesting. But there were definitely a number of chapters that seemed to have less relevance to me. And of those that did talk about open access and its related areas, I already knew most of what was being talked about. What was interesting was when the writers started to think about what the future of libraries, and library staff, might be like. A number of them felt that the librarians role was going to change, acknowledging that "the open access movement is beginning to impact on and challenge what we see as the traditional function of the librarian the journal collection and the tradtiional scholarly commuication model" (Harvell p. 63). Whilst there was no defined future for these new kinds of librarians, there was agreement that there was likely to be work supprting researchers and academics in the course of their research life cycle. Ball also felt that "our role is now being reversed: it will be to collect the outputs of our own institution's scholars and make them freely available to the world" (p. 122), rather than our previous role as "collector of everything in the world" (Ball p. 123).

Whilst all of this made for an interesting read, all I really learnt was how librarians who didn't work extremely closely with open access felt about it (pretty positively, I think, which I'm happy about).

However, Wendy Shaw's chapter on "Collection development policies for the digital age" gave ne a lot more food for thought - and taught me a lot. The chapter gives a good overview of what a collection development policy is, and how to go about writing one. Whilst I've been aware of them for many years, I've never had to write one. To be fair, I don't have to write one now - but I do believe one should exist. Our data repository is still very much in its infacny, but I believe that, in order for it to be both succesful and understood, a collection development policy should be written for it. I now have the information and knowledge to be able to back up my point, and the ability to get stuck into writing one when I'm told its a good idea, but I've just given myself another job. Now I just need the guts to say that's whats needed - or perhaps the stupidity...

Reference: Fieldhouse, Maggie and Marshall, Audrey (eds.) (2012) Collection Development in the Digital Age. London: Facet

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