Integrating Electronic Resources into Collection Development Policies

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This article was downloaded by: [University of Oklahoma Libraries]On: 25 September 2013, At: 04:53Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UKCollection ManagementPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information: ElectronicResources into CollectionDevelopment PoliciesKristin D. Vogel aa Illinois Wesleyan University Libraries, Bloomington,IN, USAPublished online: 23 Sep 2008.To cite this article: Kristin D. Vogel (1996) Integrating Electronic Resources intoCollection Development Policies, Collection Management, 21:2, 65-76, DOI: 10.1300/J105v21n02_04To link to this article: SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the Content) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness,or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and viewsexpressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of theContent should not be relied upon and should be independently verified withprimary sources of information. 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The policy provides a guideline for decisions on the selection and retention of materials in specific subjects, to specific levels of collection depth and breadth, defined in a number of ways (Osburn 1977). Carpenter (1984) states that without a collection development policy a library is engaged only in acquiring- spending money and adding books-not in rationally and systematically developing its collection. The collection development policy provides a focus for the collection and identifies specific subject areas of greater and lesser concentration. This may hold true for collecting of electronic mums as well as for collecting of books. Incorporating electronic resources into the collection development policy allows the resources to take their place in the collection as supportive of the librarys goals for cach specific area. Selection of electronic resources outside the guidance of a collection development policy leads to haphazard unfocused groupings of resources that may or may not support the mission of the library. THREE PRIMARY FUNCTIONS According to Atkinson (1986), collection policies serve three primary functions. These are the referential, generative, and rhetorical functions. A Kristin D. Vogel is Access Librarian at Illinois Wesleyan University Libraries. Bloomington, IN. [Haworth co-indexing entry note]: lntegmting Electronic Resources into Collection Development Policies. Vogel. Kristin D. Co-published simultaneously in Collecrion Managenmi (The Haworth Press, Inc.) Vol. 21. No. 2. 1996. pp. 65-16; and Collecrion Developmenr: Part and Curare (ed: Moureen Pastine) The Hawonh Press, Inc.. 1996. pp. 65-76. Single or multiple copies of this article are available horn The Hawonh Document Delivery Service [1-800-342-%78, 900 a.m. . 5:00 p.m. (EST). E-mail address:]. 0 1996 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved. 65 Collection Management 1996.21:65-76.66 COLLECTION DEVELOPMENr PAST AND FUTURE referential function is a descriptive function. A generative function pro- vides guidance for movement or development in a particular direction, and a rhetorical function argues that there is a plan operating and it is a plan worth following. Referential Function The collection development policy serves the referential function by providing a description of the current collection and the future direction of collecting. Librarians have a baseline to refer to in evaluating the collec- tion at any point in time and in evaluating purchasing patterns in a particu- lar area. While changes and developments occur frequently in electronic resources, the collection development policy will still provide a base in describing the current resources and describing how the library hopes to proceed with future purchases. Electronic resources may fill a gap in a collection of print works and the referential function of the collection development policy will allow the selector to see this. When electronic resources are included in the policy, they are also included as a part of the breadth of the librarys coverage of any particular subject area. Without this incorporation, a library may, for example, purchase additional books on works of Beethoven even though the library already owns three multimedia CD-ROM products covering the same works. The selector looked only at the breadth of the print collection because the collection development policy excluded electronic resources as materials to be consulted in determining the coverage of the collection. Generative Function The generative function is served by the collection development policy by providing guidelines to the selectorson how to move the library collec- tion forward toward the goals of the policy. For selectors, the selection policy serves as a training document that guides their daily activity in selection, collection evaluation and weeding (Carpenter 1984). A com- prehensive collection development policy may include prescriptive informa- tion on resources to consult when reviewing new materials, comparable collections to consult when evaluating the current collection, and guide- lines to consult when performing weeding operations. This is very irnpor- tant information for selectors who may be unfamiliar with electronic resources. It is imperative that all selectors become knowledgeable in the selection of electronic resources in reference to their respective subject areas, and a strong collection development policy which incorporates elec- tronic resources can be a valuable starting point in this education. Collection Management 1996.21:65-76.Krisfin D. Vogel 67 A collection development policy which does not incorporate review sources on electronic resources in its prescriptive information directed to selectors may lead to a library which misses vital information produced in an electronic format. As electronic resources are more frequently referred to and cited in published materials, these resources will quickly take on key roles in intellectual discourse. However, if a selector follows guide- lines for selection provided by a policy which ignores electronic resources, it is possible key information will be inadvertently eliminated from the library collection and not made available to library patrons. Rhetorical Function The rhetorical function serves to communicate the existence of a sys- tematic plan to outside interested parties. As libraries begin shifting toward greater usage of electronic resources, they are often faced with resistance from various constituencies. The collection development policy is an ideal arena in which to challenge this resistance. When electronic resources are incorporated into the collection development policy, the purchase of elec- tronic resources becomes a part of the funding priorities of the library. Libraries have tended to avoid using funds earmarked for print resources to pay for electronic resources. The argument has been that as demand for electronic resources increased new funding would become available. Unfortunately, this has rarely been the case. Libraries have been forced to use current financial resources to pay for electronic resources as well as for print resources (Shreeves 1992). Incorporating clectronic resources into the collection development policy allows the library to look at funding for purchase of materials as an integrated unit out of which both print and electronic resources are purchased. It is then at the discretion of the selectors to determine what amount of the funds are used to purchase print materials or electronic resources based on the goals for a particular segment of the library's collection. The integratcd policy provides selec- tors and library administrators with written guidelines grounding their actions when they are challenged by those who may resist incorporation of information technology into the library. THREE PRXMAR Y PROPER TIES How do we incorporate collection of electronic resources into overall collection development policies? Collection development policies must be written or revised to include electronic resources as another of the usual Collection Management 1996.21:65-76.68 COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT( PASTAND FUTURE formats for collecting. They must not be treated as an add-on to the collection or as an intriguing but ultimately superfluous addition to the library. Three primary properties that must be addressed when evaluating an individual resource for inclusion in the library collection are the rele- vance, quality, and timeliness of the material. These properties must be addressed in the collection development policy and provide guidance to the selector in determining whether the resource in question adequately fulfills prescriptions for inclusion in the librarys collection. Relevance Relevant materials are those which are significantly related to the mat- ter at hand. In the case of library materials, the matter at hand could be considered the information needs of a librarys patron population. Materi- als that are significantly related to the information needs of the librarys patrons would then be deemed relevant materials. When exploring the relevance of particular electronic resources to the library collection, it is necessary to focus policies on the content of materials rather than the format of those materials. It is a rare case for a library to be mostly con- cerned with the physical dimensions of its materials instead of their intel- lectual content (Atkinson 1986). However, electronic resources have often been treated as a separate entity in collection development policies. Even worse, some libraries have created entirely separate policies for the collec- tion of electronic resources. A more useful approach is to treat them as just another of the many varieties of packages for information. Concern with the physical dimensions of materials could be taken to absurd extremes if applied to the entire library collection. Should there be separate collection policies for hardcover versus softcover books? Or what about a separate collection policy for oversized and miniature books? What if we are presented with the possible purchase of an item which includes a variety of media? Is it excluded automatically because it doesnt fit the physical qualities of materials specified in the collection develop- ment policy? Attempting to physically specify types of electronic resources in a collection development policy would be even more absurd. For some CD-ROM resources an accompanying book is an integral part of the entire information package. However, some CD-ROM resources stand on their own with no accompanying materials required. Other electronic resources may not actually reside in the library building. They are only available online. How would they be physically described? What would be the description of a WorldWideWeb site which possibly changes on a daily basis? Collection Management 1996.21:65-76.Kristin D. Vogel 69 Despite the fact that electronic resources are comparatively recent addi- tions to library collections, it is possible to examine and even describe the intellectual content of these resources. This allows the library to consider the relevance of electronic resources to the librarys collection alongside consideration of the relevance of traditional print and non-print materials. The fact that a particular piece of infomation may only be available in an electronic resource does not automatically make it any more or less rele- vant to the library collection. It is the actual intellectual content in question which must be examined to determine relevance. Collection development policies often use a system of levels of collect- ing in subject areas such as the one developed for the RLG (Research Libraries Group) Conspectus to help determine relevance of materials to the librarys collection. In the RLG method, the levels are rank ordered from one to five, with a Level 1 collection representing only a minimal collection in the subject area to a Level 5 collection which represents a comprehensive collection. A resource which is a relevant resource for a Level 5 collection may be completely irrelevant to a librarys Level 3 collection. These levels can be applied with equal success to the collection of electronic resources as well as to the collection of traditional print and non-print materials. A basic collection (Level 2) in a subject area such as psychology may require subscription to only one electronic periodical index. This one index could give library patrons access to a select group of journals. This select group of relevant journals may be accessed by the library and enable patrons to have a high success rate in identifying appropriate information. The relevance of the periodical index in question could be determined in part by its inclusion of references to journals that the library selector has already deemed relevant or significantly related to the needs of library patrons. A comprehensive collection (Level 5) in psychology may require sub- scription to all available electronic periodical indexes pertaining to psychology. A library collecting at a comprehensive level would not be as concerned with references to more obscure or esoteric journals, because, as a part of the comprehensive collection, the library would seek to pro- vide access to these as well as the more frequently requested journals seeing all of the journals referenced as relevant. The integration of electronic resources into the collection development policy encourages this work across formats. The collection dcvelopment policy must include language that gives guidelines for determining rele- vance of a particular electronic resource in question based not only on what Collection Management 1996.21:65-76.70 COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT( PASTAND FUTURE other electronic resources are already part of the library collection, but also the content of the print and non-print components of the collection. Relevance of Internet resources can also be determined using these guidelines. A library with a basic collection in psychology may provide menu access to one or two institutions gopher or WorldWideWeb sites which provide important psychology resources. It is possible that a library with a smaller collection may not see access to Internet resources as a relevant part of their subject area collection if all relevant resources are already present in print and non-print materials, electronic indexes, and multimedia programs. A comprehensive collection may require the selec- tor to initiate development of the librarys own comprehensive gopher or WorldWideWeb page concentrating on psychology. Since collection development policies are the guide for determining selection and purchase of library materials, the policy will also be a driv- ing force behind selection and purchase of hardware required to facilitate use of these materials. Shelving requirements are not the primary deter- mining factor in deciding the relevance of a particular book to the library collection. Libraries usually attempt to provide adequate shelving and storage for the materials they choose to select. Electronic resources should receive the same consideration in a collection development policy. Libraries should endeavor to provide the hardware necessary for use of electronic resources that are deemed relevant to the library collection. Librarians must acknowledge that occasionally hardware requirements may be too extreme to justify purchase of a particular electronic resource. Preservation requirements also may occasionally preclude purchase of a particular book. These are unique cases that cannot be accounted for in even the most complete collection development policies. Qualiv Quality materials are those which are superior to others that may be considered for inclusion in the library collection. Determining the quality level of a particular resource considered for inclusion in a library collec- tion is a h c t i o n of the desired depth of collection. Atkinson (1986) proposed that defining quality for a small collection which excludes much available material is very different from defining quality for a comprehen- sive collection which seeks to include all available material. Collection development policies need to apply this difference to electronic resources as well as to print resources. For a comprehensive collection which seeks to include all or nearly all available materials on a subject, quality and quantity become nearly synon- ymous (Atkinson 1986). Simply the fact that a resource includes informa- Collection Management 1996.21:65-76.Krisfin D. Vogd 71 tion on, or is relevant to, the given subject such as horticulture would determine that the resource fit the quality criteria for inclusion in the collection. Collecting electronic resources at this level would mean that all or nearly all materials available would be selected. This may include CD-ROM indexes, multimedia products, access to online databases, and access to Internet resources in addition to traditional print and non-print materials. A basic collection which seeks to exclude all but a select group of materials on horticulture would define quality much differently from the comprehensive collection. Atkinson (1986) states that quality for these collections would be determined primarily by use. Circulation and citation analysis are two methods that have been adopted to determine usage level of print materials. These may be useful for general guidance in purchasing patterns, but they can only provide retrospective information on individual items in the collection. Electronic resources require their own methodolo- gies for studying usage levels. These may include machine generated usage statistics or user questionnaires. Many computer menu programs provide statistics on access to individual resources. This can be a very effective tool for selection especially if used with vendor-provided demon- stration subscriptions. Usage is a useful quality factor, but it is not the only factor and not necessarily even the primary quality factor for a smaller collection. These other factors may include ease of use, accuracy of information, and attrac- tiveness of presentation. These factors all affect the quality of print, non- print, and electronic resources alike. They can also be useful in comparing materials across formats. A book lacking in a table of contents or page numbers may be deter- mined to be difficult to use and therefore lacking in quality. An electronic resource which lacks in clear instructions or is difficult to search may also be lacking in usability. Accuracy of information also affects print and electronic resources alike. Reputable publishers, background of authors, and appropriate citations all affect the perceived accuracy of information contained in print or electronic resources. A third factor that affects the quality of particular material is the attractiveness of presentation. A book which presents clear diagrams, sharp photographs, and pleasing text lay- out is more attractive than that which presents merely text. A multimedia program which presents sharp photographs, smooth video, and colorful on-screen layouts is more attractive than a monochrome text-based pro- gram. Quality measures may also be used when a selector is confronted with a book and an electronic resource which contain similar information that ' Collection Management 1996.21:65-76.72 COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT: PASTAND FUTURE does not need to be duplicated in the collection. A possible example is the comparison of a print encyclopedia with an electronic encyclopedia on CD-ROM. Both the print and the electronic encyclopedias may be deter- mined to be relatively equal on most quality factors. They may both be easy to use. The print encyclopedia may have a useful index and the electronic encyclopedia an easy to use search function. They may both be attractive in presentation. The print encyclopedia may have strong, clear illustrations and many descriptive charts and graphs and the electronic encyclopedia clear photographs and an attractive screen layout. All the quality factors could be considered relatively equal, but when accuracy of information is addressed it is discovered that there are occasional misspell- ings in the electronic encyclopedia that disrupt its search functions. Sev- eral searches in the print encyclopedia are conducted and no misspellings are revealed. The print encyclopedia may be selected over the electronic encyclopedia due to its perceived higher quality. Review sources are often consulted to determine quality levels of mate- rials. Review sources are important to selection of electronic resources as well. A collection development policy which prescribes specific review sources to be consulted when evaluating print materials for purchase should also include appropriate prescriptions for review sources to be consulted when evaluating electronic resources. Many review sources currently include reviews for print and electronic resources. These may be particularly useful in comparing materials across formats. A collection development policy which incorporates electronic resources will address factors that determine quality of individual materi- als which allow comparison of materials in the same format and across formats. Only comparing materials with other materials in the same format will likely result in unnecessruy duplication and haphazard holes in information collected. A librarian may realize that the library now owns a print resource and electronic resource that are nearly identical (e.g., family medical guides) but that the library has no resources covering another aspect of the same subject (e.g., childbirth guides). Integrating traditional print and non-print materials with electronic resources when exploring quality of materials to be selected will prevent these occurrences. Timeliness Library materials which are timely are materials that are appropriate for the time period in which they are produced or are even somewhat anticipa- tory of situations to come in the future. Materials that are not timely are those which dwell in the past or are lacking somehow in appropriateness for the times. A current publication date does not insure timeliness. It is Collection Management 1996.21:65-76.Kristin D. Vogel 73 only one aspect to be considered when determining if a specific item is timely. A second aspect to address is whether the item presents current information. A book or electronic resource which makes arguments based largely on old information which has since changed would be severely lacking in timeliness. A third aspect to address is how well the particular item fits the overall climate of the times or zeitgeist. A hopelessly anachro- nistic item is not a timely item. Most librarians look at the copyright date of particular print materials as a key item in the evaluation process for inclusion in the library collection. However, examination of copyright dates is often more difficult when evaluating electronic resources. Copyright dates sometimes are hidden in manuals or even in fine print on opening screens of the program. There is not a standard location for copyright information in electronic resources as exists in print materials. A second concern about copyright in electronic resources occurs when a particular resource is a multimedia product or an otherwise altered version of an already existing print resource. It is pos- sible that a print political almanac would have special video segments or photographs added and then be released as a multimedia political almanac. It is very important that the selector identify the copyright date of any original print resource in order to evaluate the timeliness of an electronic resource. The actual copyright date of the electronic resource may be somewhat later than the copyright date of the print resource but the included information is actually as old as the original copyright date. Even if the copyright date for print material or electronic resources is current that is not an assurance that all of the information included within or used to make key arguments is timely. It is possible that portions of the information included in the work have been superseded by new informa- tion. A physics text which includes information on a theorem which has recently been disproved and proceeds to reach conclusions based upon that theorem would be lacking in timeliness. The information included is not necessarily reported inaccurately. Inaccurate reporting would create a quality problem. It is the omission ofmore recent material which identifies the text as an item which is not timely. Similarly, a multimedia program which demonstrates physics principles but ignores a new, recently pre- sented theorem would also be lacking in timeliness. Examination of the currency of specific information included in an electronic resource can be especially important when a highly technical program costing hundreds of dollars is considered for inclusion in the collection. If this program is timely it could be a key part of the librarys collection, but, if it is not timely and includes superseded information or ignores important new information, it could be a monumental waste of library funds. Collection Management 1996.21:65-76.74 COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT PASTAND FUTURE Zeitgeist is a somewhat more elusive concept to address when evaluat- ing library materials, but it is an important part of the timeliness aspect. Zeitgeist is defined as the overall intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of a particular time or era. Sometimes physical properties of a particular item can help determine if the item fits the current zeitgeist. A current book printed on acid paper or a current videocassette in beta format would seem hopelessly anachronistic and not be a strong candidate for inclusion in the librarys collection. Electronic resources can also exist outside of the zeitgeist. A recently produced program which is designed for use with a superseded version of a popular operating system such as MS-DOS would be out of step with the times. An electronic periodical index without a keyword search function may also be considered anachronistic and not fit the librarys collection development policy criteria. Libraries excluding electronic resources from their collection develop- ment policy may face a special timeliness problem. By definition, pub- lished print materials are always somewhat out of date upon their appear- ance due to the time required to edit, conduct print runs, package and ship materials. This is not true of online electronic resources such as those available via the Internet and WorldWideWeb. Information can be loaded onto these systems immediately upon becoming available. The informa- tion may then be accessed from any location with access to the system. This may be of particular importance in time sensitive subject areas such as political science or economics. The latest poll or election results may be loaded almost instantaneously. Stock market figures and currency market rates are reported instantaneously across the Internet. If the library excludes electronic resources from consideration in its collection develop- ment policy, it will be excluding this most current and most timely of information. A final timeliness issue which many libraries may choose to address in their collection development policies is weeding. Weeding is a process often used to remove out of date, incorrect, or damaged materials from the librarys collection to help maintain timeliness. A library which includes prescriptions for weeding of traditional print and non-print materials in its collection development policy should also include weeding prescriptions for its electronic resources. Electronic resources go out of date as readily as do print resources. Many electronic resources are periodically updated either in operation (e.g., taking advantage of new features of an operating issue or adding new search features) or in the information included. It is important that the superseded resources be weeded from the collection. A resource which is no longer supported by its original vendor and will no longer be updated should also be a candidate for weeding from the library Collection Management 1996.21:65-76.Krisfin D. Vogel 75 collection. Likewise, a library using menus or gophers to provide access to Internet or WorldWideWeb resources may wish to eliminate pointers to particular resources if those resources are no longer updated or the address has become inoperable. CONCLUSION Electronic resources belong in library collection development policies just as electronic resources belong in libraries. Electronic resources often provide important information to library patrons that is not available in any other format. Excluding these resources from the collection develop- ment policy would preclude this information from becoming a part of the overall collection. This article is not a how-to article on incorporating electronic resources into library collection development policies. It is an article which attempts to provide arguments for how electronic resources fit into the traditional collection development policy. It is not necessary to throw out the entire policy to make room for a new format. If the infomation contained within the materials in the new format is a primary focus, most of the same criteria used for evaluating already existing formats could be used for the format. Incorporating electronic resources does not change the primary functions of the collection development policy, and it does not change the primacy properties to be addressed when evaluating a particular item for inclusion in the librarys collection. The rhetorical function of the collection developmcnt policy is a partic- ularly important function in the current climate of library collection devcl- opment. Resources are shrinking and libraries find it difficult to support the purchase of important traditional resources. If electronic resources are not incorporated fully into the collection development policy, this leaves very little money available for purchase or subscription to electronic resources. Some outside interested parties would advise the library to eliminate spending on electronic resources in order to maintain what they see as the most important library collection. An integrated library collec- tion allows librarians to support inclusion of unique information available only in the electronic format. Without integration this important informa- tion may be excluded. The important properties to be considered in collection development policies are the same for all formats to be included in the library. It is only the actual process of addressing these properties that may be somewhat different. Different review resources may be used for electronic resources used when addressing quality. Selectors may have to look in different Collection Management 1996.21:65-76.76 COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT: PASTAND FUTURE places to locate information about the timeliness of an electronic resource. These are not difficult problems to overcome. A key to the success of collection development policies is flexibility. To keep collection policies alive and to be responsive to the needs of user communities, significant innovation or other relevant changes must be continually examined and included or reflected in policy documenta- tion (Collection Development Policies Committee 1993). One of these relevant changes has been the advent of electronic resources as another format of materials appropriate for library collections. Collection develop- ment policies must be continually reviewed and remain open for inclusion and discussion of new formats when they become available and for any necessary new procedures for evaluating these new formats. REFERENCES Atkinson, R. 1986. The language of the levels: Reflections on the communication of collection development policy. College & Research Libraries 47 (March): 140- 149. Carpenter, E. J. 1984. Collection development policies: The case for. Library Acquisitions: Practice and Theory 8143-45. Collection Development Policies Committee, Collection Development and Eval- uation Section, RASD. 1993. The relevance of collection development poli- cies: Definition, necessity, and applications. RQ 33:65-74. Osburn, C. B. 1977. Planning for a university library policy on collection devel- opment. international Library Review 9:209-224. Shreeves, E. 1992. Between the visionaries and the Luddites: Collection develop- ment and electronic resources in the Humanities. Library Trends 40579-595. Collection Management 1996.21:65-76.


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