Wednesday, 2 May 2012

2012 Collections Project - Books, books and more books!

Well we are now two months into our collections project and I thought I'd better write an update and reflect on how it's going.

The LRC has been given a budget which we have been able to allocate to a collections project. Back in February our Director of Learning Resources had the first of his meetings with Heads of Faculties and Schools. In these meetings he outlined the scope and purpose of the project: an opportunity to update and refresh the LRC collection; ensure that the collection reflects current and emerging curriculum requirements; move the collection towards e-books if appropriate and; establish effective approaches to curriculum liaison. The Heads were given a form to complete with any resource requests from tutors within their areas. The form asked for specific details such as course, number of students on course, whether essential or recommended, priority and whether an e-book would be appropriate if available. By the middle of April we had received forms from most of the schools within each faculty.

My first job was, within the space of a week, to go through each form, check whether the requested title was in stock and, if not, check e-book availability and purchase costs through our supplier. We have three faculties: ACE (Art, design and media; Care; Engineering), HBAS (Humanities, Business And Science) and PALS (Professional And Leisure Studies). Each school within the faculties returned the information slightly differently. Some combined several tutors' requests onto one form, some returned one form for each tutor - I received 37 forms from ACE, 5 from HBAS and 8 from PALS. Some didn't even use the form so I've had to transcribe the details from their email. Even though some forms were very short and only contained a few titles the largest number of requests has come from the ACE faculty and, in particular, the two schools of Art, design and media and Care. One of the other problems I encountered was that some tutors hadn't given all the required information on the form so we are chasing these now.

On Monday I had a meeting with the Director of Learning Resources and the Student Support Manager to plan how we would proceed. It came to light very quickly that our lack of acquisition guidelines (in terms of how many copies should we purchase) is a big hindrance. In the past we have been very cautious when ordering as our budget has been low. However, we were all agreed that if a title was only  'recommended' reading, as opposed to 'essential', we would only buy 1 copy initially. Of course more copies can be ordered if there is demand but this is a good starting point. Another hindrance involves e-books. Before purchasing e-books we want to make sure that tutors understand that if an e-book is available for their print request we will likely purchase the e-book plus one print copy and that they understand how e-books work. By the end of the meeting, however, I had my next objective: go through the lists and identify any title that is 'recommended' and where there is only a print copy available. We can then place these as our initial order.

Yesterday I finished going through the forms identifying the appropriate titles. I have also compiled a list of queries, e.g. where more information is needed on the form; should we order the accompanying CD?; this was published more than 5 years ago - is the tutor aware of this and happy with it? Once these are clarified we can place the first order! The next step will then be to update the tutors on the progress, plan how many copies to buy of 'essential titles' and look at ordering the e-books.

I'm really enjoying this project. I believe I've found my niche now in acquisitions so its great to have something like this to work on :)

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