Wednesday, December 3, 2008

LAUC morning program Q&A

Q: (for Constance): Circulation doesn't tell the whole story of how our collections are used, right? (reference, photocopying, etc).
A: (CM): yes, of course; but in our data we did make an effort to supress the non-circulating part of the collection.
A: (Jake Nalder): one of the things we're looking at in UCLA is use, and we can always find some indication of use -- whether it's scribbling in the margins or a digital marker. The number of pristine books are next to none.
At NYPL we did a condition survey, condition related to use -- and we couldn't get anything. If you put books in front of people, they all get use.
A: (CM): It's interesting how use varies across collections. The ARLs have the lowest circulation percentage.

Q: Uniqueness factor -- are we buying & preserving the wrong things? I.E. if smaller universities have materials that are unique, they are not being looked at for preservation as much. Are there efforts to do this?
A:(CM): we've found within the community that there is a kind of preservation mandate & infrastructure. The independent research universities have enormously rich research collections and they don't have infrastructure to do preservation, but they also don't feel a mandate to get rid of their print collections.
A:(JN): our conception of preservation as an institutional mission is very much out of scale with our resources to do that work or implement that policy. We are used to managing collections of durable objects that suffer damage very gracefully. "Books are just embarrassingly durable." But one of the concerns that comes up during shared print is "hot potato preservation" -- you wake up one morning & realize you're the institution with the last copy of something. And we are working on preserving some of the wrong things and not focussing on rare things, etc. But preservation continues unbeholden to faculty work, etc.

Q: I was astonished by some of the overlap between collections. Is this a historical phenomenon? I suspect that overlap is greater now than it used to be because of vendors. This is of particular concern given our low budgets for purchasing. I would say we should be very careful and think about consortial purchasing.
A:(CM): I would concur that approval plans have helped produce redundancy. They are convenient but also undercutting our ability to seek out uniqueness. That has certainly been the case in Ohiolink, where even trying to do cooperative collection development. But we have also learned is that seeking out unique items is a lot of work and in an age of streamlining workflows difficult to do.
A:(JN): we spend a lot of effort on redundant materials but not enough on unique materials -- ie. on cataloging records for the same item from two UCs, but not on unique foreign language newspapers.

Q:(for Roger): in the faculty surveys, were results age-related? Do younger faculty support getting rid of print more?
A: we all expect that, but broadly speaking no. By contrast, the biggest differences we see are by discipline -- humanities vs science etc.

Q: (for Emily): At UCSD I've had the experience of talking about shared print with collegues, and we are talking about entirely different things -- so there is a large need to pin down definitions and goals.
A:(ES): We mean very different things when we use the same terms, but also when we're doing the work (is a lack of covers ok?) Ultimately those standards will lead to a definition of what we trust. In other words, once we've built that archive, will the remaining campuses weed their copies because they trust the archive enough? E.G., physical condition and completeness are very different metrics, but are often conflated.

Comment: and campuses may be feeling different pressures -- i.e. one campus may be running out of room.
ES: and doing shared print work costs money and implies incremental space savings, but space crises tend to come very quickly.

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