ARLIS/NA Collection Development SIG Blog

For ARLIS/NA members interested in collection development issues.

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Recent Acquisitions at the Frick Art Reference Library / Deborah Kempe

Please find enclosed a link- – to a new Tumblr blog ‘Recent Acquisitions at the Frick Art Reference Library,’ which is based on presentations by Frick library staff as part of the NYARC Open House series on August 5, 2016. The selected highlights represent changes and developing strengths in the collecting policies at the Frick Art Reference Library. The blog is illustrated with photographs by George Koelle and includes catalog records and brief descriptions about the featured highlights. Hope you enjoy reading!

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A Brief Look at an Art Library DDA Program / Mary Seem

Since September of 2013 the Frick Art Reference Library has been providing its readers with access to ebooks through EBL on a demand-driven basis. Nearly three years of usage has provided some perspective on how this program has performed and ways in which it has impacted the use of the Frick’s collection. Numerous webinars and eforums have focused on ebook usage such as a recent ACRL webinar entitled Ebooks Usage on a Global Scale: Patterns, Trends, and New Conclusions. However, I feel concrete data as it pertains to art libraries will be beneficial to any institution currently participating in or considering a Demand-Driven Acquisition (DDA) program.

Since its inception, statistics have been kept on the use of our DDA program including Short Term Loan (STL) cost, STL instances, purchase price of title, STL percentage of purchase price, as well as the number of times the title was requested. These statistics, when examined at the micro and macro level, reveal the extent of the use of our DDA program and whether it corroborates the trends and concerns associated with DDA and ebooks.

The scope of the Frick Art Reference Library’s collection focuses on Western art from the fourth century through World War II. Our DDA plan includes titles relating to our scope but also touches on related elements such as architecture, photography, history, and museology.  The purpose of our DDA plan is to provide remote access to titles within our scope as well as titles that supplement our holdings. With the exception of a few titles – The Language of Doctor Who: From Shakespeare to Alien Tongues is one that comes to mind – this has largely been realized. Usage has been especially high for titles pertaining to museology and museum studies. There are also noticeable trends in the use of titles that reflect upcoming exhibitions – our own staff and interns have been using the DDA plan to supplement their research.

One of the larger concerns with DDA plans is the increasing cost of the short term loan. In fact, this seems to be the area of greatest consternation whenever the discussion of DDA plans arises. However, an examination of our statistics shows that the STL percentage of purchase price has decreased over time. As reflected in the chart below, the percentage of purchase price of the average STL has gone from 14.6% in 2013 to 12.3% as of June 2015. The increase in STL price has in part been stymied by implementing a mediated request on all titles with very high rate of STLs. Requests to access such titles have to be approved in order to prevent frivolous expenses. Also, compared to when the DDA plan was first implemented we have shortened the length of the STL from several days to only one day. Overall, the 300 instances of STLs have resulted in an 85% savings compared to the outright purchase of the requested titles.

STL Percentage

Despite the benefits of our DDA plan outlined above, there are some points of contention. One is the variability in yearly usage. As outlined in the chart below, usage does not seem steady year-to-year. There are a number of reasons that could point to this fluctuation:  the rather convoluted login process or readers may simply be using our library to access physical material. Our own staff is responsible for a lot of early usage as we tinkered with the new system. Also, our early system allowed users to access content with a login which increased use until we found it to be too costly. It will be interesting to see if usage levels out – or increases – over time. Another area of frustration was the initial available titles and publishers. The previous provider for our DDA plan did not follow specific classifications for titles and included non-scholarly titles. As a result, large swaths of publishers had to be eliminated from our ebook holdings because they were blatantly out of scope. YBP, our current provider, has a more granular subject access that has excluded non-scholarly or wildly out of scope titles from our holdings.

Usage over time

While there are an infinite number of trends and insights to be gleaned from our DDA plan statistics, this brief overview hopefully elucidates some of the findings after three years of use. Ebook usage is often mentioned only in an overarching sense that fails to address the specific needs of special and art libraries, especially museum libraries. I hope to use this initial post as a starting point for discussion about ebook usage and DDA plans. I would be very curious to see how other institutions have fared.


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Designers & Books / Steve Kroeter

I am happy and grateful to have this chance to introduce myself to the ARLIS community.

Because I believe that books are important sources of creative inspiration for the art and design communities, in 2011 I launched the website Designers & Books.

The core idea behind Designers & Books is to ask internationally esteemed designers (architects, fashion designers, graphic designers, interior designers, product designers, etc.) to share the list of books that have been particularly important to them, and why they are important. We have 2,000 books from 178 designers on the site—and well over 200 contributors if you count the writers, editors, curators, and critics who have sent in lists.

My inspiration for the website came from visiting hundreds of design studios over the years and noticing that the common visual element in the studios was that there was always a major presence of books. I learned that when you have to be creative on demand, since in design there’s always a timetable, you can’t leave it to chance about when inspiration will hit. You need to “seed” and nurture along the inspiration process. Books are a great way to do that.

I am often asked which of the book lists is my favorite, and of course they all are. But one does stand out for its surprising claim. Peter Mendelsund (the acclaimed book cover designer) starts the introduction to his list by saying: “I don’t believe I’ve ever read a “design book” in my entire life.” Rather than books about graphic design and typography, his book recommendations include novels (Dostoyevsky, Nabokov, Joyce), philosophy (Wittgenstein), and a children’s book (Harold and the Purple Crayon). Given my belief in the value of a general education, I love the idea of a designer reading widely.

In addition to publishing Designers & Books I am happy to have the distinction of managing the only book fair in the world devoted exclusively to design books. My partner in the Designers & Books Fair is the Fashion Institute of Technology.

My interest in books also extends to how they originate and how the wind their way to their intended audience. This has led me to experiences with Kickstarter. I’ve launched two book on that website. In 2015 I was the project manager responsible for the campaign for Visual Design in Action; and earlier this year I led the campaign for a new antiwar book by hall of fame graphic designer and illustrator, Seymour Chwast. Both campaign were successfully funded.

I look forward to finding ways to participate in the ARLIS community.


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Now I’m a believer : Not a trace, of doubt in my mind I’m in love, and I’m a believer / Barbara Opar, Architecture Librarian, Syracuse University Libraries

Now I’m A Believer

These were my thoughts after I sat down and began to compile a list of the many ebooks in our collection. After meeting with the new coordinator of our Architecture program in Florence concerning access to core titles, I felt obligated to review our holdings. Folks encounter e-titles one by one in our catalog searching by title, author or subject. I have selected e-versions in lieu of or mostly to supplement holdings upon request. But e-versions are not set up to be the default in architecture. Nor are they specifically requested except for large class reserve. Indeed even when we have a title in e format, faculty often request print for ease of use.

There are certainly pros and cons with   electronic versions and I will note them elsewhere in this column. But first I would like to tell you what turned me into a believer:  mainly the depth of content. When you encounter a new title in the catalog or order an e-version of a very specialized work like E. R. Yescombe’s Public-Private Partnerships you are not immediately made aware of all the library can offer in this format. One really can teach in our distance programs with the content at hand without much reliance on interlibrary loan. Our broad coverage means that students should easily be able to write solid history and theory papers using e content, regardless of whether they are here in Syracuse or in our New York City, Florence, and London programs.

I am in the process of compiling a subject based listing of key titles from the many e-packages to which Syracuse University Libraries subscribes. Beginning with the few individual titles I have purchased, I went on to review the appropriate packages and extract relevant titles. While I am sure that I have missed some titles, I know this exercise will benefit to our users. I am willing to share the list once completed with ARLIS colleagues. The findings may be of use to you even without access to the actual ebook.

What did I learn? First of all, I now have a better understanding of what items vendors do or do not supply. Secondly, as already noted, I gained a truer understanding of the rich content that is readily available with a simple click. This exercise certainly introduced me to the best overall providers of architecture titles.

I began by checking our database holdings by content type. I was surprised to see that we had not activated the books section of JSTOR. As one of the original subscribers to JSTOR journal content, I had expected us to automatically activate these holdings. Speaking with our area collection development and analysis librarian I was told that I can select relevant titles for inclusion in our holdings and plan to do so. Since this cost will come out of my architecture collections budget rather than the Libraries overall e-resources budget, for now, my selection will be done title by title. In this instance I am more driven by the reputation of JSTOR than the actual 402 architecture and architectural history titles. Brand identity will ensure that students click on the content. The publishers included are highly regarded and important university presses like MIT, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania. I am hoping too for the same JSTOR traits of quality and ease of access. JSTOR titles include:  194X: Architecture, Planning, and Consumer Culture on the American Home Front. This title discusses post war planning in Syracuse and is one I will surely add.

Below is the list of databases to which Syracuse University Libraries does subscribe and what I found about the content as well as any concerns:

ACLS Humanities E-book focuses on full-text of books in all areas of history. The browse feature allows the user to identify very specific content like key figures ( Antoine Le Pautre), regional studies like the colonial architecture in Massachusetts as well as broader topics like architecture and science. Unfortunately while the subject access is good, content can be limited in many areas. The user will only find one title under landscape architecture of the United States, that being a biography of Frederick Law Olmstead.  But the content that is available is core like Technics and Civilization by Lewis Mumford and Barbara Miller Lane’s Architecture and Politics in Germany, 1918-1945. Presentation of the text is clear. After clicking on the title, the user will see a table of contents and can select individual chapters for download. One can even access book reviews. The number of pages which can be printed is however restricted.

Books24x7 provides business, technical and engineering content including digitized books, book summaries, research reports and best practices. Key architectural design titles are available but the sustainability titles are the most relevant to architecture. To that end, core reference titles like Lechner’s Plumbing, Electricity, Acoustics: Sustainable Design Methods for Architecture are included as well as more specialized titles like Watson’s Design for Flooding: Architecture, Landscape and Urban Design for Resilience to Climate Change. The viewer can easily narrow chapter content and find the appropriate section.

Credo Reference offers access to a collection of aggregated and integrated reference books from high-quality publishers. Titles like 100 Ideas that Changed Architecture are included in this database which focuses on reference works.

Early American Imprints is a multi-part series and a treasure trove of early architectural writings.  Evans 1639-1800  provides full-text and full-page-image access to books, pamphlets and broadsides printed in America from 1639-1800.  Available are works by John Norman, William Pain and Abraham Swan. Shaw-Shoemaker (1801-1819)  provides similar access to materials published in America from 1801 through 1819. Building trade information like carpenters’ guides and early cost estimating titles are included.

Early English Books Online: EEBO contains over 125,000 titles listed in Pollard & Redgrave’s Short-Title Catalogue (1475-1640), Wing’s Short-Title Catalogue (1641-1700), and the Thomason Tracts (1640-1661). From the first book printed in English by William Caxton, through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare and the tumult of the English Civil War, Early English Books Online (EEBO) provides e-content. TIFF files are also available for download. This is a good source for English editions of Palladio.

eBook Collection (EBSCO) requires Adobe Digital Editions to download ebooks from its collection to a digital device. This is by far the series with the richest architecture content. The collection includes works published between 1987 and 2015. The boolean phrase “architecture history” elicits a total of 348 titles, all of which are relevant, highly regarded and frequently consulted in print. Works on historical figures like Viollet-le-Duc are covered in addition to architectural movements (e.g. Arts and Crafts), building types, and topical studies like women in architecture. The Architecture of Industry: Changing Paradigms in Industrial Buildings and Planning from Routledge, Wine and Architecture from Detail, Pier Vittorio Aureli’s The Possibility of an Absolute Architecture published by MIT as well Leon Krier’s The Architecture of Community from Island Press are among the selections available to users. Birkhauser’s contributions include Designing Interior Architecture: Concept, Typology, Material, Construction.  The ebook database entries look like those for EBSCO’s article databases. One can select the pdf file or an offline download.

ebrary eBook Collection is a searchable ebook collection in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Ebrary requires the user to create a sign-in to get access to all its features. Titles available include  Francis Ching’s A Global History of Architecture, Architectural Theory : An Anthology from Vitruvius to 1870 by Harry Francis Mallgrave and Andrew Ballantyne’s Key Buildings from Prehistory to the Present: Plans, Sections and Elevations, all of which are frequently placed on course reserve.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online: ECCO  is a comprehensive digital edition of The Eighteenth Century microfilm set, which has aimed to include every significant English-language and foreign-language title printed in the United Kingdom, along with thousands of important works from the Americas, between 1701 and 1800. Asher Benjamin’s guides are part of the collections.

Springer ebooks are full-text ebooks in computer science, mathematics, business & management, engineering and physics. Titles focusing on energy are most relevant. There is also landscape related content to which the Libraries does not yet subscribe.

So with all this solid content, why have I not been buying more ebooks?  While some ebooks are published at the same time as the print, that is not always the case. Timeliness matters to our users. Other reasons include ease of use. Many people still do not like to read “serious” material online and the ability to go back and forth between chapters is difficult if not impossible in e-format. Limits on printing are issues faculty mention time after time. Lack of consistency with respect to how the material appears on the screen and downloading issues are troublesome. Some vendors require checkout while others do not. Cost, duplication, printing quotas, inconsistent platforms, and even certain library policies and practices are all additional factors I must consider when selecting this content. Our Libraries have gone from single user access to requiring unlimited access. The vendors however do not all provide this across the board or even throughout their platforms.

Then why consider ebooks at all?  The reasons are obvious. Besides 24×7 access, ebooks allow us to serve distance programs with the same kinds of resources they would find in-house. Faculty can suggest readings and know that the student will be able to locate the material. On campus, those students who may not be as likely to come into the library are now better served and will become familiar with critical readings.

Not everything is available in these databases or can be purchased title by title. We are still working in a hybrid environment. But I am pleased with my foray into the world of ebook packages and now see this as a way of expanding our user base and better serving everyone.