This blog was originally created for a library and information science course on collection development at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with my reactions to the weekly readings. I hope to expand this blog in the future.

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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Trendy Topics

This week I attended the Trendy Topics events Digital Reference: An Online Conference by TAP Information Services. I gave an online presentation, which was interesting because it was my first one. Maybe I'll get better in time...

All of the presenters were excellent, including Lori Bell and Alison Miller, my colleagues at My InfoQuest. I really liked Rose Chenowith's presentation "Virtual Valor: Handling Problem Behavior Online." Her topic is a reminder that librarians face many of the same problem situations online as they do in the "real world." Even though it's a different setting librarians must remember to use the same steps in the reference interview (approachibility, probing and follow-up questions, etc.) It's important NOT TO USE JARGON. I try to take all these things into account when I'm answering questions at My InfoQuest.

Unfortunately the problem behavior librarians face in public are often faced online. However, I think I'd rather deal with problem situations on the computer than with the person directly in front of me. Chenowith raised a good point that librarians can check what went wrong (or right) with the chat transcripts and see what they could have handled differently. I think that's one advantage chat reference has over live reference- you have documentation that can't be disputed. Knowing how to handle these problem behaviors is crucial to having a successful online reference service. I think it's important to set guidelines from the beginning so there's no confusion in bad situations.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Google Books and Public Libraries

Yesterday’s class changed my mind about Google Books and collection development. Currently, I remain ambivalent about GBooks, as my previous enthusiasm has diminished. Less than a year ago, I created an online subject guide (http://subjectguides.fortlewis.edu/content.php?pid=67772) of full-text 19th and 20th century American magazines and newspapers; many titles came from Google. I was amazed at the extensive access users had to years of publications, some going back to the early 19th century. For history students (whom the subject guide was created), Google Books has a wealth of primary sources to cite. However, I remember searching through each digitized issue to check the scanning quality, often finding many pages messy.

Getting to the Google legal settlements of 2008-09, I think the provision that only 1 computer terminal per library has access to GBooks is sufficient for small public libraries. Larger library branches serving larger populations, such as the Chicago Public Library, should have 2-3 Google computers per building. Libraries cannot deny that there's a public demand for accessing books electronically. However, I'm troubled with Google's invasion of patron privacy (one of the key values of librarianship) and the possibility of the company gaining a monopoly over all text. By alloting 1 computer (2-3 computers in the bigger branches) per library building, we are still giving patrons the opportunity to access Google Books, which does have a treasure trove of books. GBooks are an option, not the only way, for patrons to read. As for subscription rates, it’s hard for me to place an exact monetary value for public libraries. Obviously GBooks shouldn’t charge for public-domain materials like “classic” books or magazines. However, use of materials like reference books and "orphan books" should have some fees. I think it’s completely unfair that users can’t save or print books (at least public-domain works) or at least portions. I created that subject guide hoping that patrons could print copies of articles when needed.

If libraries don't "piggy-back" on GBooks, this resource might help facilitate weeding in public libraries. For example, GBooks has digitized Life Magazine from 1936-72; libraries could weed these copies to save shelf space if the online text's scanning quality is good. GBooks has extensive access to other popular magazines ranging from Popular Mechanics to The Weekly World News. I think that GBooks could be very useful to collection management because its digital library of "classic" books (Grimm's Fairy Tales, The Red Badge of Courage) allows public libraries to save more shelf space by weeding these books.

Despite my reservations about completely embracing GBooks, I find it challenging and exciting in today's collection development. I hope to deal with this issue if I ever go back into public librarianship again.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Public libraries and gray literature

If there's anything I've learned from this class, it's that there's no part of collection development (and libraries) that hasn't been affected in one way or another by "disruptive innovations." This week we discussed "gray literature" (conference and technical papers and other prose that haven't undergone peer review) and how librarians and collection developers should respond to these forms of information. I decided to see what's going on at my local public library in Durango, Colorado.

Most public libraries store local history collections or archives that preserve local documents and non-print materials, such as costumes and other physical objects. Our public library is no different. The library's "gray literature" includes technical papers relating to the recent construction of a nearby dam, photos of Durango at different times, and a model train set of the town's historic train that still runs and attracts tourists from all over the world. To the best of my knowledge, the public library has not digitized any of these sources. The Colorado Digitization Project (linked on the library homepage) contains regional historic images and a blog for digital and preservation activities. Perhaps one reason why the public library hasn't digitized these sources yet is due to the current tight financial situation. Maybe the library wants to avoid duplicating services with the local college's Center for Southwest Studies, which has a large archival collection of local materials.

I think that librarries have both an obligation to preserve gray literature and an opportunity to serve patrons better. Most public libraries do a good job of keeping up with new technology- they've replaced VHS titles with DVDs and now offer eBooks. Public libraries stand apart from other libraries in that they preserve some form of the local heritage; digital preservation would enhance access to the public. Public libraries can start with simple objects like photos of the train and move up to more complex documents like blogs of city officials and public papers. After all, memories come from all things great and small.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blogs and blawgs

This week I was drawn to the readings "Who Put the Blawg in My Collection?" and "The Citation of Blogs in Judicial Opinions." Once again, we're drawn to another disruptive innovation in collection development- the blog, a document that didn't exist 30 years ago. I think it's a good idea that institutions like the Law Library of Congress are collecting blogs because they are documentary sources of communication and information. As we have seen throughout the course, the nature of information has become more digital and electronic. True, the creation of these new information sources poses challenges, such as citing and preserving blogs in judicial opinions. (I read another article by Lee F. Peoples outside class on the citation of Wikipedia in judicial opinions on my own which raised similar concerns). Just a couple years ago, controversy arose over how Congress was supposed to subpoena several e-mails in an investigation.

I think these articles stood out more for me because I've learned how Web 2.0 (particularly blogs and wikis), are changing libraries, and not just in collection development. As I looked for a library position, I realize how much of reference work now involves content creation for both patrons and librarians. Web 2.0 is about creating content- LibGuides, wikis, blogs, tweets, and database guides. These resources are not just about answering reference questions directly. Whether someone like me is pursuing a librarian position in collection development or reference services, knowledge of blogs and wikis and what they do is very important to have.

Of course, we've seen throughout this semester how these innovations have disrupted traditional collection development and attitudes toward reading. We (or I) started out writing how my reading habits have gradually changed from paper to electronic materials. Then we've talked about e-books, open access, and other items have changed people's reading and affected collection development. We can add blogs, wikis, and new communication to this list. These "disruptions" aren't going to end soon!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Graphic novels and niche collections

Today I’m going to discuss the Elizabeth Downey article “Graphic Novels in Curriculum and Instruction Collections". I have some experience with graphic novels in collection development through my work in the public library system in Florida. Several older adults (one or two generations older than mine) were appalled to find graphic novels in the library collection, deeming them “unsuitable literature.” However, the Broward County Library’s annual Anime Convention was a huge success among both adults my age and children.

I think the graphic novel case is a symptom of the "disruptive innovations" affecting collection development we have seen throughout the course. Today's college students have grown up with visual imagery and electronic media like television, video games, and the Internet and they expect the same rapid pace in their reading materials. According to English professor Laura Mullen of Louisiana State University (quoted in Downey), "We're all of the Internet now...We never get a word without an image going with it, so in fact I think this is the direction of our future reading comprehension. It will include both visual literacy and verbal imagery." This article reminds me of the studies of the changing student research and library use in the University of Rochester and other schools. Many students rely on electronic databases and study in different ways than previous generations, use social tools (Facebook, e-mails, scrolling news, and webcams) and ask for links to their professors and assignments. This generation has grown up with Google and instant messaging, and yes, reads graphic novels and eBooks.

I agree that librarians have to ask certain questions when creating niche collections for formats like graphic novels. Is there a demand? How do we find reviews for what's good? Where do we get the budget for these collections? How do we deal with critics who challenge the policy of collecting these works? Like Downey, I believe that graphic novels are a way to engage a new generation of visual learners and explore themes that readers can find in print books. I have seen how academic libraries are increasingly adding graphic novels to their collections.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What do we do now?

I've been thinking for almost a week about how collection developers can fix the serials crisis. It hasn't been easy- it's almost like trying to find a solution to the current economic mess. After last Thursday's class, I think that one solution might be for libraries to develop "hybrid" collections of both print and electronic materials. Electronic journals have several attractions, such as saving libraries space and money. After all, the Big Deal has proven uneven in its effectiveness. Since class began in January, I have thought that libraries should provide a mixed collection of print and electronic resources.

I still believe that open access (OA) journals could be another solution to the serials problem. In the Report of the Task Force on University Libraries (Harvard, 2009), the paper recommends provides access to, not only acquisition of, library materials through OA. Last week we read in Carlson and Pope's article that if a library can't afford to subscribe to all the journals it needs, OA could be a viable alternative to the Big Deal bundling.

I think that the blurry direction libraries face in the future compounds the serials crisis. For too long we have thought of libraries having physical collections ("own, don't lease") with physical journals. However, in this digital age, the focus has shifted from ownership to access of information. Today's lines are not clearly as drawn as they were in the past as scholarship in research libraries becomes more interdisciplinary. I think that librarians must face this paradigm shift and work together to solve the serials crisis.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beyond the Big Deal

During my previous collection development class at UIUC, we discussed the “Big Deal” and bundling. However, I learned more about the Big Deal this time when we read about it in light of “disruptive innovations”- electronic databases, e-books, and interlibrary loans. I read the Carlson and Pope and Colleen Cleary articles first and began to think about disruptive innovation and change immediately. When I read Covi and Cragin’s article next, it hit me full-force.

To me, the Big Deal sounds like a mixed blessing. Price increases for serials have placed significant demands on academic libraries’ budgets and bargaining power is not even for libraries. However, bundling allows libraries increased access to certain information, as Cleary points out. Small- to medium-sized libraries could benefit from bundling by purchasing a number of titles they couldn’t afford to buy individually. I think the most significant development here is the rise of patron-driven collections with interlibrary loans and e-books. Many electronic journals cost less than print materials (cost increases are at the heart of the problem with the Big Deal). I was surprised how print serials are competing with e-books in budgets.

After reading these articles, I changed my thinking about open access (OA) journals. I wasn’t so sure about OA following last week’s readings. I agree with authors like Carlson and Pope that OA could be an alternative to spiraling journal costs. When libraries can’t afford to subscribe to all the journals they need from publishers or when many journals are unavailable by subscription, OA seems like a good alternative. Carlson and Pope point out that many OA journals are peer-reviewed and indexed in respected databases. I’m not advocating a “one size fits all” approach here, but I think OA is something for libraries to seriously think about.