At Home He's a Tourist

He fills his head with culture/ He gives himself an ulcer.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

A librarian-friend in Michigan and my supervisor both independently brought my attention to an article in the January 2003 issue of C&RL: "Circulation as Assessment: Collection Development Policies Evaluated in Terms of Circulation at a Small Academic Library," by Debbie Dinkins of Stetson University. She quotes an earlier study which found that practically every small academic library involved in the survey depended heavily on faculty requests for collection development. Sounds familiar to me. The problem, according to this earlier study, is that "By definition and by tradition, the faculty are research specialists. Their primary loyalty is often to a profession rather than to the institution. The library, however, must assemble collections that serve narrow subdisciplines as well as the multidisciplinary needs of the community as a whole. Thus, the scope of faculty interests does not necessarily match those of the library." I need to circle those sentences and send the article over to the religion department. Dinkins' study at Stetson compared circulation figures for books selected by faculty with figures for books selected by librarians in five disciplines. In art the faculty did better, in English the race was neck-and-neck, but the librarians did significantly better in history, music, and political science. As much as I like her conclusion that librarians should have more influence in the selection process, I have to admit that heavy circulation is not the only consideration; for instance, a religion professor who requests, say, Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua, is right to do so (assuming the library for some reason doesn't already have a copy), even if a librarian driven by circ stats might choose The Prayer of Jabez instead.


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