Cooperative acquisition of Africana: Past performance and future directions

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  • LlblatL 4~qm~tttons Pra~tueantt 7heorl,Vol 6 pp 221-232 1982 0364-6408 82 02022[-1250300.0 Printed in the USA All rights reserved Copyright ~ 1982 Pergamon Press IAd



    Past Performance and Future Directions



    Thzs artwle gtve,s a revtew o/prevtous cooperative acqutsltton eJ/orts by A/rtcan Studws hbrartans" followed b: a detazled report o! a ~urvey o/ma/or U S A/rwan collectton~. Tht, survey reports on the scope of collections; methods of collecting; amount and sources o/ [unds and current cooperattve mvolvement,s or plans Fmalh', suggesttons are made [or specl/tc prolect~ that can be relattvely qmckh' mTplemented

    Cooperat ive acquis i t ions are a topic of increasing concern for area studies hbrar lans in research and academic l ibraries Afr ican Studies l ibrarians are especially concerned as the period of greatest growth in Afr ican Studies research publ icat ions, especially those published in Afr ica Itself, Is at the same t ime the per iod of greatest inf lat ion in the cost of these materials Budgets al located for col lect ion deve lopment have not increased sufficiently' to deal successful ly with this problem. Unless some form of cooperat ive acquis i t ions is inst ituted, Afr ican Studies research col lect ions in the United States face the prospect of uncoord inated deter iorat ion The first part of this article will briefly review cooperat ive acquis i t ions in Afr ican studies In the historical perspective The second part reports the results of a survey of the current s ituat ion In the final section suggestions are made for specific cooperat ive activities

    The most signif icant at tempt at cooperanon In the past was the Farmlngton Plan and its successor, the Fore ign Acquis i t ions Plan [I]. What the Farmlngton Plan did accompl ish deserves far more attent ion than this account ts able to give As it related to Africa, the

    *Alncan Documents L~brarlan, North~e,,tern Unl,,erslty

    **Atncan Studies Area Speclahst, Indiana Umvelslty

    tAfncana Bibliographer, Um;erslty of Ilhnms

    This arncle is based on a panel presented at the annual meeting ot the African Studies Assoclanon m Bloomington, Indiana, October 22, 198[



    Farmlngton Plan was unsuccessful in its attempt to geographically divide Africa among cooperating Institutions A recent perusal of a file of Africa-related Farmlngton Plan correspondence from the early to m~d-1970s showed documentat ion of an attempt to determine the extent to whtch cooperating Institutions were maintaining their commitments Although the Farmington Plan itself ceased to exist m the early 1970s, a 1971 agreement had been reached concerning its cont inuat ion for Africa. The responses found in the file referred to were not encouraging While several major mstltUtlOnS d~d report some level of comphance, most reported varying degrees of lack of compliance. Some d,d not respond at all while others reported no record of any agreement to collect under the Plan.

    Numerous reasons have been offered for the failure of the Farmlngton and Foreign Acquisitions Plans Two ~mportant factors are especmlly relevant to the present considera- tion. First of all, many institutions in the 1960s had a great deal of money for collection development in African Studies, much of which went for comprehensive collection de- velopment in the broadest sense of the term The frequent overlap of assignments in the Farmmgton Plan seemed to have been a m~tlgatmg factor on the degree of institutional commitment A number of institutions, for example, reported their lnablhty to acquire a certain type of document but expected that since at least one other lnstltutmn had a similar commitment ~t was probable that that other lnstltutmn had done the job better Second, and related to this, is the nature of collection development in African studies at that time, especially retrospective collection development. Many cooperating lnst,tutlons were bmldmg African studies collections from scratch to support the teaching and research needs of institutional African studies programs. The Farmmgton Plan assignments were often not relevant to the major collecting interests of the individual institutions as reflected in their facultle2 teaching interests and research needs A careful look at th~s entue experience will most certainly provide important guldehnes for African Studies hbrarmns endeavoring to reestablish some form of cooperatwe acqmsmons

    Another focal point of cooperative act~wty has been the various area acqms~tmns committees of the Assoclatmn for Research Libraries and the Associatmn for Research Libraries' Task Force on Collection Development Despite the demise of the Farmington Plan, these groups within the Assocmtlon of Research Libraries have continued to speak out on the need for cooperatwe acqms~tmns Such concern, however, has not translated into action. Whxle African studies hbrarians have access to Assocmtmn of Research Libraries' committees and task forces and therefore some opportunity to influence d~rectlons wtth Assocmtion of Research Libraries sponsored acuwties m cooperauve acqmsltlons, they are m the position of wmting for others to negotmte for the prowslon of a framework m which they might establish a cooperative acqmsltmns program

    An important recent expressmn of the need for cooperatmn comes from the report of the President's Commlssmn on Foreign Language and Internatmnal Studies published m late 1979 Shortly after this Commission's founding was announced, African studies hbranans, m the context of a meeting of the Archives-Libraries Committee of the African Studies Association m November 1978, began a process of contactmg hbrarlans' committees m the other area studies assoclatmns m order to make a joint statement of concern to the President's Commlssmn The pubhshed report of the Commlssmn and its compamon volume of background papers address hbrary needs directly [2] The following is a brief excerpt from the report itself.

    The Commission recommends mamtammg and ~mprovmg our mternatlonal studtes hbrary collections b2, buddmg upon our existing major research hbranes, by adding at the national level an apparatus of blbhographlc control,

  • Cooperatwe Acqms~tlon of Afncana 223

    reg~onal,zed acqu~slt~ons pohcLes and ~mproved access for external users, and by more efftc~ent mter-hbrary loan mechamsms The Commission recommends that the L~brary of Congress expand m the near future its National Program for Acquisitions and Cataloguing (NPAC) to mclude the principal world areas now excluded The Library of Congress should also estabhsh a National Center for Foreign Areas Bibliography, charged with the comptlatton. analysis, and c~rculatton of reformation about the production and avadabdlty of print, audio and visual matermls of scholarly importance throughout the world The Commlsston also recommends annual federal grants of $30,000 to $150,000 a year to each of the nattonal international studtes centers to help maintain a hbrary collection m their fields of specmhzatmn of the high quahty requtred for advanced research and training The Commission beheves that the specmhzed hbrary collections held by the proposed national centers should be made as avadable as posstble to quahfied users from other mstltuUons We therefore recommend the estabhshment of a program of 500 annual mini-grants of $100 to $500 (averaging $300) to allow qualified facult 3 members or graduatc ~tudents from other restitutions to visit and use center collections [3]

    There is little doubt that the implementation of the Commission's recommendations regarding area studies library collections would have met the present needs recognized by many African studxes librarians.

    Nearly 2 years have passed since the publication of this report and none of the library- related recommendat ions have yet been adopted. What has resulted is the establishment of the National Council of Foreign Language and International Studies under the sponsorship of the Social Science Research Council and the expressed interest of the Library of Congress in hosting a meeting of area studies librarians to consider several of the recommendattons of the President's Commission namely:

    1 The development of a b~bhographic center and program at the Library of Congress

    focusing on international studies 2 The development of improved and coordinated foreign acqmsltlons programs 3 The expansion of NPAC with additional field offices, notably one m West Africa

    African studies librarians have not seen meaningful results following the President's Commission. Furthermore, they cannot sigmficantly alter the official direction of activities fol lowing up the report of the President's Commission. Nevertheless, they can use the report of the President's Commxss~on as a source of reference for their own actwltles

    It is well documented that hbrarlans active m concerns of area studies have sensed the need for action. Hans Panofsky, Curator of the Melville J Herskovlts Library of African Studies, Northwestern University, spoke to this concern in Ltbrao' Resources for Inter- national Education, a 1975 report pubhshed by the American Council on Education [4] James C Armstrong, Field Director, Library of Congress Office, Nairobi, mentioned it as well in his paper, "Current American Acquisit ion Policies for African Materials," presented to the Standing Conference on Library Materials on Africa (SCOLMA) Conference on African bibliography in 1977 [5]. Finally Wilham E Carter, Chief, Hxspanlc Division, Library of Congress, prepared a most comprehensive background paper, " International Studtes and Research Library Needs," for the President's Commission [6]

    Perhaps African studies librarians themselves need to be more inward looking in their cooperative attempts. They must look to themselves as the primary developers of a first-step cooperative acquisitions plan The need is so urgent that it is impossible to walt longer for other established committees or organizations to act and to provide an overall framework African Studies librarians must begin to establish that framework themselves. To gain insight into current cooperative programs and perceptions concerning viable future cooperation a survey was distributed in June 1981 to libraries collecting materml from and about Africa. The survey was distributed to 33 hbrarles in the United States. These included the members of the Archwes Libraries Committee of the African Studies Association and other hbrarles


    suggested by members of the Committee or whose staff expressed an interest in part icipating in the survey. Appendix 1 gives a list of hbrarles responding (25 of the 33) The survey attempted to collect data about the current state of cooperat ion and to explore the possibilities presented by our varying structures and funding for joint actlvttles Such a survey does not produce the kind of quantif ied results that fit into charts, tables and computer analysis Hopeful ly for our relatively small and widely diverse group it produces reformation and ideas that lead to future activities of benefit to ourselves and our restitutions. A copy of the questions on the survey is included in Appendix 2

    The first section of the survey dealt with the subject and geographical limits of the collections Omitt ing the specialized collecttons (2 rehglous, 1 agricultural, 1 populat ion and 1 language and literature), the remaining 20 libraries all emphasized the social sciences and humamties. Except for the Library of Congress, none of the report ing libraries collect extensively m natural, physical or applied sciences other than agriculture. Three restitutions (Michigan State, Kansas State, and West Virginia University) do emphasize agriculture Two libraries exclude law material. While there were no law hbrarles represented among those surveyed others indicated that Columbia Law School, Yale Law School, Stanford Law School, and the University of Cal i fornia at Berkeley Law School do collect African material The arts are emphasized by three collections, collected but not stressed by most of the rest, and specifically mentioned has hawng a low priority at one Literature ~s emphasized by two, excluded by none. African languages and linguistics are emphasized by four, excluded by none. Where rehglon is specifically excluded (Umverslty of Cal i fornia at Berkeley), a l ibrary m the region (Graduate Theological Union) does collect

    Geographical constraints overlay the subject emphases Eleven hbrarles collect from the entire continent and the surrounding islands Another 12 collect from Subsaharan Africa wtth East Africa the primary focus of two of these. Subsaharan Africa except for South Afr ica is the focus of one hbrary and Islamic Africa the pr imary focus of another Currently Kansas State ~s concentrating on Botswana because of a grant.

    The next section of the survey dealt with types of material collected. All hbrarles (except the Texas Populat ion Center) collect trade publications from Africa Virtually all collect government pubhcat lons on the national level. On the state or provincial level 9 l ibraries collect selectively with two hmltlng sub-national collecting to Nigeria and a third to Nigeria and the South African homelands Six l ibraries collect local pubhcatlons selectively or very selectively Types of government publications collected include economic and statistical reports (including development plans) departmental reports, legislative and commission reports, debates and gazettes Eleven libraries collect gazettes but most of these collect from only one or two countries

    While 18 of the report ing hbrarles collect Afr ican language publications, 4 hmlt their collection to languages taught, 3 collect only Swahlh, and 2 more collect pr lmardy Swahdx and Hausa

    Fifteen report ing l ibraries collect ephemera but all of them are selective from either the content or geographic wewpolnt

    Textbooks are collected by most l ibraries only if they are the only source of reformation or if they contain substantial scholarly material Thus Yale collects pr imary and secondary textbooks in h~story, civics and geography. The Library of Congress expressed their policy as emphastzlng content more than level. Columbia University Teacher's College has collected textbooks per se though the comprehensiveness of their current collection ts not known

    All of the hbrar~es responding to the survey collect European imprints In Enghsh and the major collections try to purchase western European scholarly material comprehensively.

  • Cooperatwe Acquisition of Afncana 225

    Thirteen l ibraries collect material in English, French, German, Portuguese and Italian. Only three l ibraries listed all European material of ac...


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