ARLIS/NA 46TH Annual Conference Collection Development SIG Meeting Minutes / Christina Peter


Monday, February 26, 2018, 5:00 – 6:00 PM Nassau Room, Hilton Hotel

Moderator: Mary Wassermann

Recorder: Christina Peter

Approximately 35 members attending 

The minutes below follow the agenda outlined by Mary Wassermann

  1. ARLIS/NA Collection Development SIG blog. Mary Wassermann, who had been managing the blog, encouraged contributions and circulated a sign-up sheet for potential contributors. She pointed out that there was no requirement for the entries to be lengthy essays; she would also welcome short notices about new acquisitions, etc.
  2. Collection development policies. Mary Wassermann introduced the topic by posing a question about the usefulness of traditional policies in supporting best practices within an institution. A lively conversation ensued with many participants joining in. Some of the issues that were highlighted: frequency of updates (at the Cleveland Museum of Art Library policies are updated annually, following the Museum’s policies; at the Frick Art Reference Library the policy is updated every time a new decision is made); public vs. non-public (most librarians said their collection development policies were public, though there might be additional implementation/procedures documents attached for internal use only); who uses the policies and for what purposes (at Cleveland, librarians refer to it for weeding); general vs. specific policies (at some academic libraries, e.g. Wellesley College, the policy is not specific to the art library anymore; other librarians also stated that their policies were general and overarching); the policies’ impact on library management and offsite decisions. Mary Wassermann wrapped up the discussion by observing that several librarians keep revising their libraries’ policies yet they are inevitably tied to what is often a library’s shifting mission. A  discussion ensued on offsite storage, space issues, criteria for considering items for special collections, and housing for and access to special collection/rare items. Paula Gabbard brought up the issue of shared offsite storage for consortial collections, offering some updates about RECAP, the shared offsite storage facility of CU, NYPL and Princeton. RECAP now shares most items held in the RECAP facility, and they appear in each institution’s OPACs, allowing recall of individual titles by any of the three libraries from the shared physical collections. The Getty has offsite storage in five different cities; UCLA, two storage facilities. Smith College had a consortially shared EBL on-demand online collection; the program however was canceled because of the steep cost increase.
  3.  Trends and issues in collection development  Using a rejected panel proposal as a starting point, Christina Peter started a discussion about the relevance of collection development in librarianship today. Several librarians commented, bringing up some pertinent points: a shift in education – collection development is rarely taught at library schools anymore; a shift at libraries – librarians are expected to be strategists and space planners as opposed to their traditional role as curators of collections; with resource sharing, the preponderance of electronic resources and shared holdings the boundaries of library collections are becoming increasingly more fluid. It was mentioned that library school interns do not want to get immersed in collection building, and that two important collection development-related jobs at major academic libraries had recently been reposted for lack of qualified applicants. On the other hand, it was also observed that student assistants often get thoroughly engaged with collections through their practical work and may decide to go to library school as a result. It was also mentioned that honoring librarians who had been instrumental in building significant library collections might help bring the focus back to the importance of collections (the Phoenix Museum library’s upcoming symposium honoring Clayton Kirking was brought up as an example). 
  4. Action item for the SIG: rework the proposal for next year following the ideas floated at the meeting. Several librarians offered help to work on it.

Other issues discussed briefly:

  • Whether most collection development librarians are responsible for both print and electronic resources (most attendants responded in the affirmative)
  • To what extent librarians consider users’ selections
  • Budget constraints
  • On-demand purchases

Christina Peter is Head of Acquisitions at the Frick Art Reference Library.

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