Our nation’s libraries and high-density storage facilities are reaching capacity, and, despite aggressive digital library development, are adding 25,000,000 new printed volumes per year. College and universities are reluctant to build more space for books and pressure is on to use valuable central campus space for learning commons and purposes other than book storage. Something has to give: its probably our concept of each library as an independent collection and each school as going it alone in addressing the needs of faculty and students in its managing legacy collections.
I am working with colleagues nationally to help shape an intentional, national shared collection comprised of a coordinated network of college and university libraries and storage facilities. Every school will need to decide if it wants to opt into one or more regional and national shared print archiving programs. My consulting practice is evolving to help both individual college and universities and consortia determine how best to manage local conversations and collections, and institutional policy and practices as they move into the era of collective collections.
Over the next 3-5 years many difficult collection management decisions will have to be made in the nation’s college and universities. The potential for making mistakes in a national drawdown and for engendering conflict and misunderstanding on campuses is great. My 38 years in lovingly developing and managing college library collections, combined with my deep commitment to and broad experience in preservation of the record of scholarship, equip me to contribute a voice of reason and caution to this great movement towards shared collections.
My combination of pragmatism and idealism, my inherent conservatism about collection management and clear acceptance of new realities and opportunities drive me to work in the arena of shared print archiving. I hope to assist campuses and consortia in developing collection management strategies that address local needs and reflect local values and political realities by connecting these local strategies to nascent regional and national programs and strategies.
My first big consulting job in this arena was for the University of Minnesota and MINITEX. To get a sense of my approach and how this can work for one institution and a state-wide consoritum, see: https://wiki.minitex.umn.edu/MLACEvaluationTaskForce
My hope is to revive the earlier idea of the “collection management plan” in the era of shared collections. I work with individual schools and consortia to help them situate their local collection management programs in the context of emerging regional and national shared print archiving programs. Working collaboratively, we shape a carefully sequenced plan for weeding, de-duping, collection consolidations, format migration, inter-library sharing agreements and other methods of meeting local needs — for space and collections access — while behaving responsibly in managing our legacy collections and contributing actively to developing and preserving the national collection. Updating gift programs, disposition policies and programs, and collection policies and practices.
There will be great consternation, even outrage, as faculty learn that libraries are being forced to weed their collections. Surprisingly to some people, I find I actually enjoy working with concerned faculty to help them come to an understanding about how a particular institution can most responsibly manage its legacy collections. I relish helping faculty understand the pressures libraries are under, the options they have, and the opportunities for collective action often results in greater understanding and acceptance of the exegencies of managing legacy collections.
Collection development and managing the transition to hybrid collections
My 25 years of experience in “collection development for the electronic library” and in managing and developing hybrid print and digital collections has proven useful to others as they plan their ongoing collection transitions locally, and harmonize them with regional and national cooperative efforts. Topics on which I can collaborate include developing selection strategy, involving faculty in collection management and development, conducting effective journal reviews, making the transition from print to e-journals and e-books, and evaluating and adopting user driven selection models. Selection for local digitization, and developing plans for strengthening special collections programs in college libraries.
My background is in selection for preservation, setting preservation priorities for disciplines, cooperative preservation planning, and starting local preservation programs. I enjoy assisting institutions in developing and/or strengthening their capacity to preserve collections. My 2009 work in developing a preservation plan for the University of Minnesota — “Enduring Access to University of Minnesota Libraries Collections – a preservation planning framework for a digital age” – provides a good sense of this kind of work at scale, and can be adapted to the needs of smaller institutions. Cohering cooperation among preservation/conservation operations, such as I recommended for UMN and MN Historical Society, is a promising approach to cost-effectively increasing preservation capacity. Updating long-standing preservation programs and working to help develop a 21st century approach to collection preservation is an important imperative in U.S. research libraries, and one I plan to continue helping with.