ARLIS/NA Collection Development SIG Blog

For ARLIS/NA members interested in collection development issues.

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Report on a conference called “The Collective” / contributed by Sara Holladay.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a new library conference, The Collective, in Knoxville, Tennessee. The majority of conference attendees were from the academic library community but I am a Knoxville local (I telecommute for the Frick Art Reference Library as their Electronic Resources Librarian) and was drawn to an opportunity to attend such an innovative conference in my hometown.

One of the panels I attended, Finding a Way: Negotiation Tips and Tactics, was lead by a foursome of library professionals who have spent many years in the trenches: librarians at both large and small institutions, as well as a customer engagement specialist with a well-known vendor (what does it say about our vendor interactions that I didn’t even know “customer engagement specialists” were a thing?). The conversation wove through the many vagaries of vendor relations and negotiations, but a bit of a lightbulb went off when I heard one of the librarians at the University of Tennessee state that they’re now asking vendors to defend renewal rate increases. It occurred to me that perhaps this is a real heads-up moment for the art library community and smaller institutions like ours; if our colleagues at large research universities are paving the way, we should follow suit and see how this might benefit our resource negotiations. The University of Tennessee is essentially hitting the pause button on annual rate increases and requesting:

  • 3% cap on renewals for 3 years/12 mo subs; if it’s greater than 3% OR if they have experienced any issues with the product, they will ask vendors to report back on their profit margin and defend the price increase with updates on the content that has been added
  • Database performance uptime: the goal is 100% but 99.9% is the MINIMUM uptime acceptable

The database downtime issue was also of great interest to me – I cringed when I thought about my own experiences with one major database where our access simply disappeared twice over a four month span. Access was restored within about 24 hours on both occasions, but without explanation. Was this the kind of service and content that justifies a 4% rate increase, or is this the perfect scenario in which we need to hold vendors accountable?

All too often we at the Frick accept annual rate hikes in the 4-5% range due to historical vendor relationships and pricing, or because we assume that the best possible deal has been negotiated and that these increases are as good as it gets. But what if that isn’t the best we can do? Are there situations where a database hasn’t added new content, or improved functionality, therefore not truly warranting a 4+% hike at renewal time? Perhaps it’s time to truly assess our usage of that resource, and if it’s deemed necessary, to push back with vendors to learn more about their profit margin and how we can reach a compromise. Could a rate increase of 1-2% be possible? There is only one way to find out.

Sara Holladay (

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Suggestion for withdrawing print volumes in JSTOR / contributed by Susan Davi

CRL JSTOR Print Archive

CRL [Center for Research Libraries] has committed to archiving a collection of JSTOR print volumes that match most of those in the JSTOR Archive Collections.  Libraries which find themselves in the position of withdrawing the print volumes of JSTOR journals may want to look into this opportunity.

Detailed information can be found at the CRL website:

Susan Davi (

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CAUSEWAY (Collaborative Architecture, Urbanism and Sustainability Web Archive) / Chris Sala

The Collaborative Architecture, Urbanism and Sustainability Web Archive (CAUSEWAY) is a pilot project to archive websites devoted to the related topics of architecture, urban fabric, community development activism, public space and sustainability. Made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, CAUSEWAY is being curated by art and architecture librarians at Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, and Yale universities, MIT, and the universities of Chicago and Pennsylvania (collectively known as the Ivies Plus Art and Architecture Group) and operates under the auspices of Columbia University Libraries and Information Services.

The overarching goal of this project is to preserve (and document the evolution over time of) the selected websites in a secure digital archive to guarantee the continuing availability of these important but potentially ephemeral resources for researchers and scholars.

Participating librarians are choosing websites that fit into the themes of CAUSEWAY: Urban Fabric (e.g. historic preservation, urban renewal, urban preservation), Public Space (e.g. parklands, community gardens), or Community Activism (e.g. historic preservation initiatives, associations).  Each librarian is making nominations focused on the geographic region in which her or his institution is located. Examples include websites for the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association; Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance; Newark Riverfront Revival; and Preserve Rhode Island.

Archived websites will remain freely accessible to the public. Websites included in CAUSEWAY will be viewable by date of capture in the Internet Archive.

For more information please attend the How the Web was Won: Collaborative Approaches to Web Archiving session in Ft. Worth. Held Saturday March 21 11am-12:30pm, Anna Perricci, Web Archiving Project Librarian, Columbia University Libraries, Columbia University will discuss establishing and growing a multi-institutional web archiving collaboration for CAUSEWAY.

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Thoughts on Gifts / by Susan Craig

Having recently experienced the usual deluge of end-of- the-year donations, this topic has been on my mind. Donors planning to increase their charitable contributions for income tax purposes often donate unwanted books to a library in December. Of course, there are also the generous donors who sincerely want to help the library build a collection.

I’ve learned that gifts can be both a blessing and a curse. I try to avoid accepting items that duplicate material that my library already owns and rarely accept journal issues unless it’s a substantial run of a very desirable and unusual title. Learning to tactfully refuse an unwanted donation without alienating the donor is a necessary skill so my strategies are to suggest other possible institutions which might be grateful for the donation—social service agencies, smaller area libraries, library book sales—as well as to explain our procedures and costs.

A variation on the gift of books is to be offered a donation to purchase material for the library’s collection. Sometimes this money has been intended as a memorial and the donor may ask that the purchased material correspond to a particular interest of the person being honored. It can be very challenging to find a desirable title that matches the prescribed subject and the amount of the donation.

It is important that your library have a written policy regarding gifts. The policy should identify the type of material that the library will accept and the appropriate contact person. It also needs to explain how issues such as appraisals and acknowledgments, such as book plates and donation inventories, will be handled. It might suggest that cash donations to support the processing or personnel costs would be welcome. Perhaps most important, the policy should clearly state that retention decisions for gifts are at the library’s discretion. If at all possible, post this policy on your website so potential donors can find it.

When you are offered a gift of something that is truly desirable for the collection, rejoice and celebrate. It may not happen often. But regardless of how mundane the gift, if you accept it, you need to write a letter of appreciation to the donor and, depending on your organization, copy the letter to your Development Officer and administrators. Make the thank you letters as personal as possible and emphasize not only the library’s appreciation but also how the gift benefits the users of the collection.

And, when it comes time for you to dispose of your own book collection, be sympathetic to the librarian who may not be as enthusiastic as you expected.

Susan V. Craig, University of Kansas, January 2015


Catalog Records from Metropolitan Museum of Art MetPublications

In late 2012, Dan Lipcan forwarded an exciting announcement to ARLIS/L: the launching of MetPublications, an online resource offering access to many of the Museum’s publications. It was a complement to the Museum Libraries’ project to digitize all known Museum publications from 1869 to 1963 within their Digital Collections.

I emailed Dan to see if bibliographic records (MARC records) for these publications would be made easily available so other libraries could load them into their catalogs. In the Fall of 2014, Dan Lipcan was able to offer files to ARLIS/L MARC record sets for online Metropolitan Museum of Art publications (both from the publications department and from the Libraries’ Digital collections). He separated into two downloads: those that offered full text and those that offered preview only.

Columbia University Libraries chose the full-text download only. I worked with both our head cataloger, Kate Harcourt and our systems analyst, Evelyn Ocken to create test records to review what elements in the record needed to be modified to meet with local practices. After some tweaks, happily performed by my technical services colleagues, we loaded the set into our local catalog.

In the end, we loaded all 1,395 records offered by Dan Lipcan which gave us full text online access. If you would like to see the records in our OPAC (, a keyword search on 965MetPub will retrieve all 1,395 records. Thanks to Dan, Kate and Evelyn, we now have access to beautiful exhibition catalogs such as:

Art and love in renaissance Italy / edited by Andrea Bayer ; Andrea Bayer, Beverly Louise Brown, Nancy Edwards, Everett Fahy, Deborah L. Krohn, Jacqueline Marie Musacchio, Luke Syson, Dora Thornton, James Grantham Turner, and Linda Wolk-Simon ; with contributions by Sarah Cartwright, Andreas Henning, Jessie McNab, J. Kenneth Moore, Eve Straussman-Pflanzer, Wendy Thompson, and Jeremy Warren. New York : The Metropolitan Museum of Art ; New Haven : Yale University Press, 2008.
xv, 376 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 32 cm.

Landscapes clear and radiant : the art of Wang Hui (1632-1717) / Wen C. Fong, Chin-Sung Chang, and Maxwell K. Hearn ; edited by Maxwell K. Hearn. New York : The Metropolitan Museum of Art ; New Haven : Yale University Press, 2008.
xii, 236 p. : ill. (some col.) ; 31 cm.

Dan announced on ARLIS/L that he would annually reissue complete sets that will include updated and new records for online MMA publications.

I am thrilled to be able to add these records to our local catalog, giving easy access to this material for our research community.

Thank you Dan, Kate and Evelyn.

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The Fine Art of App Preservation

The Fine Art of App Preservation / Melissa Goertzen, E-Book Program Development Librarian (

In 1963 Josef Albers published the Interaction of Color, which revolutionized the way scholars and students study relationships between colors. Albers developed the text to serve as a hands-on kit that provides an interactive environment to conduct silkscreen color studies. However, there are limits to interactivity, as the book was originally published in print format. Now, fifty years after its original publication the text has been released in a digital format that brings Albers’ original vision to life. Yale University Press released the Interaction of Color app, which includes over 125 color plates, 60 interactive studies, and commentary from Albers. This is a landmark publication and won the George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award for excellence in art publishing from the Art Libraries Society of North America earlier this year.

Librarians are facing challenges because the app is sold exclusively through the iTunes Store and is only compatible with the latest iPad. Currently, Columbia University Libraries does not provide access to public tablets and there is not an existing framework regarding how to “lend” these devices to users.

A second challenge involves preservation of the app. Because its value to the scholarly community is tied to its interactive learning environment, librarians searched for a means to purchase a preservation copy that guarantees long-term access to both content and functionality. They discovered that because the app can only be licensed through iTunes (currently, there is not a business model that supports a flat out purchase of the app), there is no way to capture and archive content. Even if it was, there are no benchmarks that estimate the costs of long-term app maintenance and storage.

During the Fall semester, several of us at Columbia Libraries had an opportunity to discuss access and preservation challenges with the New Business & Product Manager at Yale University Press. We learned that academic publishers are also grappling with these issues, and there are opportunities to work together and discuss strategies related to the preservation of enhanced e-books. One idea is to begin with the preservation of underlying images and text. While this excludes functionality, it provides a starting point that may better acquaint information professionals and publishers with preservation challenges at hand.

It will be interesting to see how preservation discussions develop in the coming months and years. For now, partnerships are developing with the collective goals of providing access and preserving scholarly content for generations of researchers and students to come.

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New Interdisciplinary Artist’s Book: Notes / Richard Minsky

If you are interested in interdisciplinary artists’ books that include music, please take a look at Notes. There will be a cloth hardcover edition of fifteen copies, a Deluxe edition of five leather bound copies, and a unique Musical Chair that extends the binding into a total body experience. Each copy of the book includes a linoleum block color field print from 1972, a  letterpress 7″ record jacket from 1981, and comes with a CD of a 38 minute work recorded at Mercury Studios in 1972 for which the score is in the book.

Pre-publication discounts are in effect through Friday, November 14 or until all the copies are subscribed. Details, download of sample pages, online ordering and institutional order form are at:

I am glad to answer any queries–you can email me: Richard Minsky <> or phone 516.729-9227.

This Friday I will be presenting a reading of NOTES and will play some music from the book at an “Artist Talk & Reception”

When:  Friday Nov. 14, 2014
Where: The Center for Book Arts, 28 W. 27, NYC, 6:30 pm.
What: NOTES is a CBA Featured Artist Project on exhibit through December 20.

This will double as the publication party for the book.


This is my second exploration of the reading chair as an extension of the binding. The previous one, Freedom of Choice: Three Poems of Love and Death by Lucie Brock-Broido, was acquired by the Lloyd Sealy Library of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. For that work the book was chained to an electric chair with an audio component:


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