As a liaison librarian in Asian Studies, I'm still in the learning stages of collection development - the nuances of balancing purchases with budget constraints. Approval plans amidst the restructuring of firm orders. E-books versus print titles. DDA packages that no longer seem to be to the advantageous to publishers who pass on the costs to academic libraries. It's sometimes feels like a whirlwind tour of changes.
However, after coming across Blanca San Jose Montano's "The new paradigm of collection management in university libraries: from crisis to revolution,
" it helps contextualize the current chaos of collection management. Montano positions collection management in an historic timeline, one with a very long process where "internal" and "external" factors interact to transform the collection and its management activities. Libraries are living organisms
in continuous change that adapts to the context where they exist and which is the cause of their progress. It is formed by “vital elements” such as the collection – which is its basic element and the nucleus of its activity.
We can look at then, Thomas Kuhn, whose theory of the "paradigm shift" in science views science as ultimately a product of human activity – and being a social product, it is formed by processes where internal and external factors interact - a theory that divides science evolution different (altogether five stages). This article puts things into focus with three salient points for us academic librarian selectors who are often too steeped in our work that we can sometimes forget to take a step back and look at the greater picture. Here are three takeaways:
1. Libraries adapt to their historical context. Libraries live and breathe on the technological, social, cultural and political transformations that converge and interact, with a cause – effect correlation that is difficult to establish for its rapid evolution. In the past decades, the developments in the digital fields have gained momentum, the library maintains and increases the relevance of its fundamental mission to organize and preserve that has neither changed nor has been deprecated. The library is no longer a static place and becomes a space; the collection remains a tangible possession deposited in a place and becomes a material network with value-added services, and the user becomes an active element of conversation.
2. University libraries are information systems. They have transformed their aims and functions to become a unified university information system, enlarging their mission of conserving and preserving the teaching and researching collections to make them more useful and competitive. These libraries seek to facilitate learning and academic communication, adapting to the digital world, their institutions and their users.
3. The tools for conventional “collection management” have changed. In fact, they have gone through a "revolution." The new model of “cooperative collection management” should be configured so as to provide the library and its community with a balanced, homogeneous and standardized view of its purposes, strategies and good common practices.
Thus, it is important to reflect (and breathe) when doing collection management work. It's not easy, particularly with the barriers and constant barrage of seemingly shifting priorities and moving targets. Collection management is a continuum - if we aren't careful to move along with the changing profession, not only will it remain stale, we risk becoming obsolete to our users.