In today's atmosphere of media bombardment it is difficult to make a decision about a purchase and then not be faced with the same question again and again. Printed advertisements for publications come to my library, not once or twice, but twenty times. I get phone calls from telemarketers touting these same titles. Sample newsletters appear often enough that one would think that my library had a subscription to some of them. In the area of monographs, I see references to the same titles again and again. Wouldn't it be nice to make a decision about a particular title, and then move on?
There are ways of coping with this issue of repetition. We use some of them intuitively, while others require a little work.
The first thing to do is to use the resources on hand. For example, in our library, notes and coding on order records in the technical services version of the online catalog for titles which we have canceled remind one and all why we canceled this particular title, and when we might review it to consider reinstating or replacing it. All these devices are then searchable by various fields. A note which says "Consider reinstating in 2001" and which has been placed on a group of records is accessible, and can be especially useful when combined with a search by publisher.
A second use of the technical services version of the catalog is to create a dummy record with a title field which says something descriptive like "newsletters: do not check in." Each newsletter we do not want then receives an entry as an alternate title. In this way, when a newsletter comes in the mail it can be searched in the tech services online catalog. The search retrieves a record, and the record indicates that it is trash. No further decision necessary.
In addition to the online catalog, a computerized list using either a spreadsheet or a database program can be useful in avoiding that deja vu all over again feeling. These can be used in several ways. One use of a database manager (but one which I do not personally employ) is a list of titles which are rejected for purchase. A database of this sort should include several searchable fields, such as title, author, isbn, as well as a note field for comments as to why the decision was made.
A related use of spreadsheet or database is the cancellation list. Our acquisitions module of the combined catalog is excellent, but it will not tell me how much money I have saved by canceling specific titles. It only keeps track of money spent. By keeping a database of cancelled titles with their publisher, date of cancellation, library fund and amount projected to be saved per year, I can determine what amount of money is now available that would have been spent otherwise. When sorted by fiscal year and fund, I can see where savings have been made. When arranged by date, I have a list of titles which are reviewed for their value in the collection.
These are a few techniques that can be used to cope with the repetitive ads and multiple channels that are used to get my attention. I must admit that in some years I have asked my co-workers to put notes on their business cards before dropping them in drawings at the exhibit hall at the AALL meetings, not to add their names to mailing lists. The increase in mail after the annual meeting is probably proportional to the number of our staff attending the meeting. This just goes to prove that we really do not have any control over the mail coming in the door, and our only tactic is to deal with the mail ruthlessly.