Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Patron-driven acquisition and the educational mission of the academic library

Lin, Connie

Walters, W. H. (2012). Patron-driven acquisition and the educational mission of the academic library. Library resources & technical services, 56(3), 199-213. Retrieved from:

Summary: Patron-driven acquisition (PDA) is one type of acquisition system based on allowing patrons to select and purchase books for library collections without staff oversight. The goals of PDA programs are to provide immediate access to materials patrons might need and create a book selection responsive to patrons’ requests. However, Walter argues that PDA programs do not improve the quality of academic library collections due to the several factors like students’ inability to balance their own immediate desires with their long-term educational needs and lack of equal collection representation. By creating such PDA programs, Walters argues that while it is efficient in information delivery, it creates unbalanced or biased collections that fail to represent the full range of library stakeholders and may not support mission statement or goals of the library or institution.

Evaluation: Walters presents a persuasive argument against using patron-driven acquisition in academic libraries with examples from actual academic libraries. He categorize the libraries in the various types of patron-driven acquisition programs and provides helpful questions to keep in mind if a library decides to head down that road.  I thought this was a strong article about problems that arise from patron-driven selection process. Walter presents clear reasons and examples pull from real life situations. The author also admits that there has been no empirical study or comparative approaches that directly deals with the question of patron-driven selection’s impact on the collection, but provides advice for someone if they wanted to go ahead and do a study. Walters also does not write off patron selection all together – instead he just cautions giving patrons a no-holds bar access without librarian oversight. However, this is a specific article focused on academic libraries only. There is no mention of PDA programs in public libraries and I would be curious about their impact on selection.

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