Questions Prompted by Doug Way's "Redefining" Presentation
In order to spur conversation, I wanted to share my reactions to Doug Way’s presentation last week. You can view it at http://library.wwu.edu/library_speakers.
1. Analyzing the data: I was particularly struck by the information Doug shared regarding collection use at other libraries, and what collections received the most use. One slide revealed that 55% of books purchased by Cornell since 1990 had not circulated once. At Western, only 36% of our collection has circulated since 1998. On another slide, Doug revealed even more shocking data – a recent OhioLink survey revealed that 6% of most libraries collections account for 80% of the circulation. What are we to make of this data? Are we selecting the right things? Are there better ways to make these selections? What 6% of our collection accounts for the most circulation here at Western? Are those materials easily accessible? What about the rest of the collection? Should we be marketing these materials better? Should we be assessing our collection more closely and moving some of our lesser used materials off-site?
2. Moving to eBooks: Doug mentioned that many libraries are moving to eBooks because they are more flexible and more cost effective. Although Western Libraries has not pursued the purchase of eBooks as aggressively as many libraries (the University of Washington has been particularly innovative in this regard), we are starting to see them requested by campus faculty more frequently. While eBooks offer ease of access - multiple users can access the same book at the same time, and they are available even when the library is closed - and also never get damaged or lost, they do present other challenges. As scholarly publishers begin to move more in this direction, we would like to hear from faculty about their questions and concerns regarding eBooks.
3. Mass digitization: Doug shared information about Google Books and the library equivalent HathiTrust. He mentioned that GVSU has joined the HathiTrust and is actively loading the full text of books in the collection into their library catalog, so that users can search the full text of these items. They claim that doing so will increase discoverability of these items. Western currently does not include such content in its catalog. Should Western Libraries join the HathiTrust? Should we load such content into our catalog? If so, should we remove the print versions of these books from our collection?
4. Open access: Doug also talked about the role libraries can play in transforming the publication landscape in supporting the rise of open access journals. Open access journals differ from traditionally published journals in that they are freely available and are funded either by a learned society or by fees charged to those who publish in them. Should Western be offering greater access to open access journals? Should we explore subsidizing faculty to publish in open access journals? Is publication in open access journals seem by academic departments as equivalent to traditional scholarly journal publication and acceptable for tenure and promotion?
5. Collection to creation: Western Libraries has been exploring the creation of a digital repository of Western student and faculty papers, preserving them and helping them to be discoverable in search engines like Google. In doing so, we’d be able to assist faculty and students in gaining more traffic for their works, potentially raising the profile of the University. Should Western Libraries create a digital repository? What types of materials might we want to include? Would you submit your work to be included?
Those are my thoughts. What do you think? Tell us by participating in the Viking Village Forum at http://forum.wwu.edu/topic/library-speaker-series.