At Home He's a Tourist

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

Monday, January 26, 2004

Problems in Collection Development

1. Vanity Press books--Tricky because generally there won't be any reviews of the work, and the author might be completely unqualified, if not an utter crank. Last week we received from a journalism professor a donated copy of a concordance to the KJV Proverbs that he had published through one of those vanity print-on-demand outfits. The book was as well-produced as the typical trade paperback, so it took me a few minutes to discover its nature. I decided to add it to the collection because biblical studies is popular here and issues of, authority...aren't as significant with a concordance as with more argumentative forms of nonfiction: it doesn't take a Th.D. to collate all the occurences of a word in the text. (I bet L.L. won't enjoy cataloging it, since I doubt OCLC has MARC records for vanity press books. Do they?)

I'm not opposed on principle, then, to vanity press books. Another example: a philosophy professor who served as a referee for my manuscript had himself written a manuscript defending universalism (the doctrine that all people eventually go to heaven). I got a hold of a copy and thought it was quite good, but the religious presses he sent it to found it to be too controversial. So he eventually printed it through I would certain accept the book as a gift, and might even consider purchasing it.

2. Republished Titles--When going through some more donations I ran a title search on one item and received no results. I decided to do an author search to see if we had any other books by the same person, thinking that I could run circ stats and see if his work was in demand here. I found a number of his books, one of which had a title very similar to that of the donated book. As it turned out, one book was simply a retitled edition from another publisher. I've run into this problem a number of times, and for the ones I've caught there are probably others that snuck through. This possibility is something to keep in mind in reference work, too, when a patron isn't having any luck with a title search.


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