Fought, R.L., Gahn, P., & Mills, Y. (2014) Promoting the library through the collection development policy: A case study. Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries, 11(4), 169-178. DOI: 10.1080/15424065.2014.969031
This article summarizes a study and marketing experiment done by the Health Science Library ant the University of Tennessee Health Center. After years of budget stagnation forced staff to make cuts to the collection, they decided they needed to proactively prove the library’s relevance to stakeholders on campus.
To do this, they decided to update an outdated policy and market the changes to stakeholders. Since the college had recently gone through an accreditation review, the library updated their collection development policy to more accurately reflect the goals of the school. The library’s Electronic and Collection Services department headed the project that began with an inventory of the library’s current holdings. This process allowed staff to weed the collection of unusable materials. It also allowed them to identify weaknesses in the collection.
They then surveyed both students and staff to determine what kinds of materials and subjects were wanted and needed. The survey showed three levels of collection goals: Research, clinical/instructional support, and minimal. Each level contained various subjects that they hoped to grow in a certain way. For example, they hoped to offer more research data in the subjects of neurology and neuroscience or more instructional support material in the subject of occupational therapy and family medicine. The decision was made to offer only minimal materials in other subjects, such as nutrition. These choices were based on an analysis of the date and recommendations of participants.
After they analysis, access was increased to many core titles available through databases. The library invested in an EBSCO Discovery system that would simplify the search function. Also, the library implemented a pay-per-view subscription to databases, which would increase access to items based on need.
The final step in their project was to publicize the results of the study through as many avenues as were available. The library also publicized the increased access to databases. This included facebook posts, listservs, emails to faculty, and newsletter articles. Because of this, the library saw in increase in use and positive feedback from the community.
This article is a perfect example of what a powerful tool collection development can be. With no resources, libraries can make a compelling statement to stakeholders about what they hope to accomplish. This is especially true if the library outlines how they will be accomplishing their goals. In the Health Science Library’s case, they were able to implement changes immediately. It shows incredible foresight and a clever use of limited resources to garner more support and resources for their library.
What I found most intriguing about this article was how familiar it all sounded. The steps the Health Science Library took to develop their collection have been steps we have taken as students in our individual studies. Like HSL, we began with an inventory of not only the collection, but the community as well. We were then able to analyze the results, looking for discrepancies or inconsistencies. Through analysis, we identified weaknesses, and proposed a collection development policy that would help bridge the gap between those discrepancies. If nothing else, this article made me feel more self-assured of my capabilities after taking this class.