Tag Archives: LIS Blog

What’s an Approval Profile, and Why Does the Library Want to Change Ours?

A brown-bag lunch will be held on May 3 at 12:30 pm, in the Crest Room of the McCullough Student Center, to explore the subject of the library’s approval profile. Douglas Black, the library’s Head of Collections Management, will be presenting, with some sweets and coffee to augment your own lunch. He’ll give some history of the approval program in library acquisitions over the years and lead discussion on its role in the academic library collection of the 21st century.

For context, the library selects, acquires, and provides access to materials in many different ways:

  • upon request by students, faculty, and staff
  • automatic purchase of e-books and streaming media based on usage
  • subscriptions
  • package deals on journal subscriptions and purchased journal archives (“backfiles”)
  • one-time purchases of electronic databases, which often require annual maintenance fees
  • gifts/donations
  • and through automatic purchase via an “approval profile.”

Under the approval model, the library utilizes a library vendor (in our case, YBP Library Services) to purchase automatically books that meet certain criteria (e.g., subject, hardbound only, no workbooks, scholarly publishers only, within a certain price range, etc.).  Middlebury typically purchases about 3,000 volumes/year this way, at an average annual cost of $97,000 in the last few years. We recently conducted a thorough analysis of the program’s effectiveness, finding that print books purchased through the approval profile are used much less than those specifically requested. The library believes some of that money could be spent more effectively and would like to gather input from members of the campus community on reshaping the profile.

Please feel welcome to contact your liaison or Douglas Black (dblack@middlebury.edu or x3635) with any questions (whether or not you can attend the meeting), or comment here in the blog.

The whole point is lost if you keep it a secret: Musings on the LIS Blog

There’s a great scene in Dr. Stangelove where the existence of the Russian’s doomsday machine is revealed, but at a moment when it is too late for its explosion to be stopped.

For those not familiar with the movie, the doomsday machine is a nuclear device that can destroy the entire planet in a single explosion, whose triggering is automated, and once triggered, can not be stopped. In this critical scene, Dr. Stangelove complains that the whole idea of having a doomsday machine only works if you tell someone that it exists. Having a secret doomsday device is not a very good strategy. As he points out, “the whole point is lost if you keep it a secret.”

I think about this insight often when I think about our efforts to communicate with our community, and with ourselves, about all of the services and resources that we make available. Without an effective way to allow people to know about what we provide for them, we risk spending lots of time and money on things that few will ever know about. Thinking about how we are going to communicate when we change something or add something should be integral to the process of changing or adding something.

One of the major ways we communicate what’s new and what’s changed is via the LIS Blog. In turn, some items from our blog find their way into MiddPoints, the LIS eNewsletter, and our Facebook and Twitter feeds.  On a monthly basis, a small group sifts through the LIS Blog to assemble the eNewsletter. Of late, we’ve found that despite all of the changes we’ve made to our services, there is no corresponding posting to point to. Over the years, we’ve tried various strategies for being systematic about always posting to the LIS Blog when there is something new or changed that we want our community to be aware of. We hope not to have to return to the days when we had to hound contributors. That was annoying for all involved. To that end, I turn the question over to you: what can we do across the organization to get into the habit of always posting to the LIS blog news about what’s new and what’s changed in order to avoid having to be heavy-handed about this?

A second question about the LIS Blog that I have is whether or not we should continue to run the blog as a public blog. WordPress, the software that powers the LIS Blog, is now able to easily cross-post items to other blogs (that’s how we get posts from the LIS Blog to MiddPoints).  I wonder if we ought to create an LIS-only Blog where we post and where we read, and then create a mechanism for selected posts to make their way to a public LIS Blog and to MiddPoints. The advantage of doing this is that I suspect we might be more apt to make comments, to try out ideas, and to share more insider information if we knew that only our colleagues in LIS would be able to read the posts and the comments. Am I alone in thinking that this might be a good idea? What other ways might we accomplish the goal of encouraging more contributions, more dialogue, and more communication within LIS? (If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your thoughts on the public LIS blog, send me an email!)

Are you reading this post via a feed reader? If so, read on…

On Tuesday May 31st we’re going to change the categories on this blog, so if by any chance you’re using a feed of a specific category, that’s going to break. We suggest subscribing to the whole blog for maximum enjoyment! If you’re not a LIS staff member & would like to filter out the more staff related posts, you can subscribe to the new “Middlebury Community Interest” category after May 31st. The other categories will be “LIS Staff Interest”, and “Post for MiddPoints” which will cause the post to be added to the MiddPoints blog too. All the old categories except “The Essentials” will be converted to tags for easy searching.
The LIS Web team developed this new scheme, following recommendations that came out of the open meeting about the future of the LIS Blog (including a call for simplified categories). The AD Team reviewed and approved these changes. We welcome your comments.