Wendy Medvetz is the first recipient of the TS-SIS Education Grant. She used the grant to attend a workshop last fall. Here is her report of that experience. – ed.
November 2-3, 2001
Approximately 35 academic, government, and law firm librarians attended the New Perspectives on Law Library Acquisitions and Collection Development workshop on November 2-3, 2001 at American University Washington College of Law in Washington D.C. The 2-day workshop featured speakers Christine Graesser, JoAnn Hounshell, Janis Johnston, Scott Larson, Phyllis Marion and James Mumm. Patrick Kehoe, Director of the American University Washington College of Law Library, started off the workshop by welcoming all participants and giving good advice on lunch locations! Several librarians from academic, government, and law firm libraries attended, which allowed the participants to consider several points of view.
The workshop started off with a session titled "New Perspectives in Collection Development Policies and Selection Criteria" and was presented by Phyllis Marion, Director of the Library and Professor at California Western School of Law. Phyllis provided an overview of collection development and discussed collection building. She related that a collection development policy is a tool used to guide the intellectual process. In her presentation she discussed with the participants the need for a collection development policy. Some reasons for having a policy include:
Some challenges libraries are facing are flat or shrinking budgets while prices are escalating; the growth of electronic resources, and access versus ownership. Three approaches to collection development policies were outlined: conspectus, narrative and mixed. A conspectus approach involves examining the collection by classification number and subject and then outlining the collection by existing collection level and current collection level. A goal level can also be included. The collection can also be evaluated by asking what the library needs by talking to faculty, staff, and students. Also, separate or integrated policies for electronic resources were discussed at length. Finally, Phyllis listed and explained the elements of a collection development policy.
After a short break, JoAnn Hounshell, Head, Acquisitions, Northwestern University School of Law began the second session "Electronic Resources Collection Development." In this session, the participants learned that electronic resources include CD-ROMs, commercial database, E-journals, and E-books. JoAnn also recommended that the collection development policy include electronic resources. Unique sections in the policy can explain selection criteria, content and how it relates to the existing collection, cost benefits of purchasing multiple formats, and access issues. She went on to explain the purpose of licensing agreements. One important point was to find out who has the authority to negotiate licenses in your library or institution. JoAnn also provided a valuable list of websites containing license principles and model contracts including:
The afternoon began with a session on "Implementing Your Collection Development Policy." The group split into 2 sections, academic librarians, and government and law firm librarians. This allowed each group to discuss the unique perspectives of the different settings. The academic portion was presented by Phyllis Marion while the private/government section was presented by Mr. Scott Larson, Librarian, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. Each group discussed various issues of a collection development policy such as: evaluating the current collection, selection, items that fall outside of the policy, outsourcing, deselection, and cooperative collections.
The final session for the day was "Accounting and Financial Management in the Electronic Age" presented by Mr. James Mumm, Acquisitions/Serials Librarian, Marquette University Law Library. This informative session included a discussion of financial management issues. Some issues identified by the group included: reconciling the libraries' figures with the finance office figures, planning for unplanned and unpredictable cost increases, and types of budgets. Mr. Mumm discussed his process of getting from source document to final payment. The importance of retaining source documents such as purchase orders and sales receipts as well as other documents is very necessary in order to make sure it is evident what is being purchased and paid for as well as to verify that mistakes are caught and corrected. Mr. Mumm presented and explained his methods of reconciliation and used his impressive spreadsheets as examples.
Day two of the workshop was as informative as the first! We started out day two with a session on outsourcing, deselection, cooperative collection and other cost cutters in the electronic age. The group listed the following as advantages of outsourcing: saves time and money, eliminates routine, and frees staff time. A disadvantage of outsourcing is the potential to lose control of acquisitions dollars. Some other cost cutters highlighted included: controlled purchasing, routine reviews of the collection for duplication, cooperative collection development, consortial licensing agreements, and canceling subscriptions that don't necessarily need to be updated every year.
In the next two sessions we continued our discussion of accounting and financial management and included a section on electronic ordering and payment. James Mumm and Scott Larson led these sessions with Scott heading the group of law firm librarians. Many libraries represented have started to use electronic ordering. Some advantages of electronic ordering listed by the group included: quicker than paper, more efficient, discounts, ease of comparing prices, and readily available bibliographic information. The class listed some useful sites to compare prices including: http://bookfinder.com and http://bestwebbuys.com. Out of print searching is available at http://alibris.com and http://21northmain.com.
The day ended with a presentation by Christine Graesser of Brown Rudnick Freed & Gesmer. Christine discussed acquisitions practices and ethics, vendor relations, and information about CRIV (Committee on Relations with Information Vendors). She emphasized the importance of ethical acquisitions and understanding the vendors' role and point of view. Christine reminded the group to stay objective when dealing with vendors while also being responsible and knowledgeable about licenses and contracts. In order to have a good relationship with vendors, librarians should be professional in their communication. She wrapped up her session with an explanation of the functions of CRIV.
Each presenter brought a unique and informative presentation to the group. The workshop was a great place to meet and learn from several knowledgeable colleagues and was organized so that several library viewpoints were presented.