The library purchases most of its big-ticket items in June, the end of the fiscal year, after invoices for expenditures have been received and paid, when we know precisely what’s left to spend. In May, we sort through requests to purchase databases, journals and other resources and rank them by need as best as we can; we also review low-use subscription resources to determine if we may cancel any to clear space in this account for new acquisitions. (At present, there are two ways to acquire a new subscription database: to cancel an old one or to reduce the book fund permanently by the cost of the new database.) Here are big-ticket items acquired last June for FY10:
Periodicals Archive Online Collection Extensions.
PAO is an archive of hundreds of digitized, full-image articles published in journals of the arts, humanities and social sciences, providing access to more than 200 years of scholarship. Earliest PAO journals begin in 1802; we advanced coverage of this collection by five years, from 1995 to 2000.
Oxford Encyclopedia of Popular Music Online. The 10-volume Encyclopedia of Popular Music is a comprehensive reference work devoted exclusively to popular music. In addition to being regularly updated, it will also be fully cross-searchable with Grove Music Online in the new Oxford Music Online gateway.
Godey’s Lady’s Book Folios. Godey’s Lady’s Book, a 19th century magazine for women, was the most successful women’s magazine in the United States by the outbreak of the Civil War, with a circulation of 150,000 and an estimated readership of a million persons. We acquired folios VII (1886-1889) and VIII (1892, 1893, 1896) to complete the run of this publication.
To cope with the recent economic decline, the College asked all units to cut operating budgets by 5% last winter, followed by news that FY10 budgets would at least be flat-funded, a de facto roll back. Since the library hasn’t experienced such deep cuts in decades–if ever–we thought it would be useful to state how we prefer to build collections in the midst of smaller fund accounts and modest prospects for budget growth.
By obligation, the Library collects information resources to support the curricular needs of the College’s academic departments. We strive to provide relevant materials for established programs and to assemble, to the extent possible, retrospective core collections for new College-sponsored academic initiatives. Collection subjects reflect the undergraduate curriculum, and collection developers are informed by class enrollments, intensity of use, new course offerings, and areas of study which must be supported by strong local holdings.
The primary way we build subject collections is by acquiring materials we think will be used by those teaching and taking courses presently offered by the College. This process is a year-by-year layering of new course materials upon older ones, perhaps best described as follows: in year one, professor X (in addition to her textbook order) submits requests to the library for books that augment required readings for a course she is currently teaching; in year two, professor X submits requests for additional books that further augment readings for this same course. Over the years, as X continues to teach this course, the library steadily shapes a collection around this curricular subject. We try to avoid the opposite approach, to expend large sums of money on a single course all at once, because creating an “opening day” collection means significantly reducing acquisitions in other subjects, and because by having sustained curricular activity drive collecting levels, we’re advancing collections incrementally according to needs of students and teachers.