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Collection Assessment & Faculty

February 21, 2018

Does the title of this blog post strike fear in your heart? It worried me a little (OK maybe a lot) as I looked down the project timeline for a much-needed library renovation that is happening at W&J. The size of our library is not changing in this renovation but we are adding more open/collaborative study space. Therefore, we have been working on an extensive collection assessment project focused on reducing the size of our collection. Speaking with one of our senior faculty members she believes it may have been 20 years or more since a project like this was undertaken.

Going into this project all the librarians felt that the only way for this to be successful was for the library to be very transparent and inclusive in our decision-making. Throughout the fall semester, each liaison librarian reached out to their departments and asked for a chance to attend a department meeting. These meetings yielded really good conversations with the faculty about what resources they’re asking their students to use, what criteria might suggest a resource is no longer relevant to their field, and how the library, in its new space, can work with them to better serve our students. While not everyone is enthusiastic about reducing the size of the collection, I think that through this open dialog they at least feel that their concerns have been heard and that we are willing to work with them to make sure we aren’t removing anything that is a core resource.

Based on the criteria determined by each department we used purple dots to mark the spines of books that met those criteria. Now we are in the phase where faculty members are coming to the library to review the dotted items. They have the option to save dotted items and dot other items for removal. Feedback from the faculty who have come in so far has been really positive. They said they were dreading reviewing the books on the shelf, however, they found value in really taking time to look at their collection as a whole, rather than just locating the one book they needed and grabbing it from the shelf. Some faculty have indicated finding gems that they didn’t know we had in our collection. One faculty member is meeting with students from his class, in the library stacks, to look on the shelves for book resources that pertain to their research topics.

So while this aspect of the renovation was something I was initially fearful about, I think it has been a huge opportunity for us to forge better relationships with the faculty, particularly in departments that haven’t traditionally been big library users. We look forward to working with faculty to acquire resources that fill identified gaps in our collection and we plan to implement a schedule for collection assessment where we will invite departments to come in every 3 or 4 years for a happy hour in the stacks.

If you’re interested you can follow along with our renovation project here, http://libguides.washjeff.edu/renovation.

Has anyone else had experience with this type of large-scale collection assessment? I’d love to hear your experience.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 22, 2018 12:43 am

    What a wonderful way to keep a connection with the faculty! It seems as though they are really appreciative of your consideration in bringing them in to evaluate their collections. Happy hours sound delightful!

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