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University Libraries - News, Events & Exhibits

Have you met...Gary Geer, Head of Acquisitions and Collection Development

Jun 10, 2013 7:35 AM

“The whole field of acquisitions is changing. There’s a misconception that going electronic is easier. Actually, the problems have just gotten more complex.”

“In ancient times, back when I started working at Thomas Cooper Library some 30 years ago, if someone was looking for an issue of a periodical and couldn’t find it, we’d need to know the call number and the floor it was located on," he said. "If we still couldn’t find it, we could look to see if we’d received it, or if the subscription had lapsed. Now if someone is trying to connect to a periodical online, we need to know if the user is on campus or off campus. Is there user error in finding the periodical? Is there an IP problem? Maybe the user is in a building on campus that doesn’t have access because we ran out of IP addresses? No, it’s not the same job as even 15 years ago.”

“Like many libraries, ours used to have a purchase plan. A vendor would send us books according to broad criteria. With that plan we bought 37,000 books over five years. Only 39 percent of those books had at least one checkout. So that means that over this five-year period we spent about $1 million on books that didn’t circulate. Over time the percent with one or more checkouts went up, but not substantially. A little over half had one or more checkouts, but 80 percent had either zero or one checkout. So we were buying a lot of books that few people used."

“Today, we are not buying books in anticipation of someone possibly needing it. We wait until people ask for things. We are cultivating user-driven collections. It’s the idea that our collections meet the teaching and research needs of our users as our users define them. This is also called buying ‘just-in-time’ as opposed to ‘just-in-case’.”

“Most of the resources we buy now are web-based and have annual recurring costs. To buy a book, you pay for it once. To buy a database, you pay for it every year if you want to maintain access. We recently purchased an historical newspaper database. We paid once for the content and will pay every year to keep access.”

“Overall, we’re moving toward a more electronic collection, which has greatly expanded access to resources. And we’re working more cooperatively with other groups -- on campus, regionally and nationally -- to provide the greatest level of access to important resources.”