Last night I took part in my first #uklibchat on Twitter. The theme was collection management. My job role is Information Advisor (Resources and Content) in an FE/HE College so I thought it could be useful. There will be an official summary written up by @uklibchat but, since this was my first, I thought I'd write my own reflections too.
I saw promotion for the chat on Twitter and started following @uklibchat. Prior to the chat an agenda is made available online on which anybody can add a discussion topic. I added: How do you manage weeding of physical stock? How much do you involve tutors? Aside from removing un-repairable items weeding is not something I've tackled yet on a large scale. Therefore I was interested to see what approaches other take. The full agenda was as follows:
1. Are you responsible for collections management in your organisation? What kind of collections do you manage?
2. What has been your most challenging task or decision related to collection management?
3. How do you think the increase in e-resources will affect how library collections are managed?
4. How do you manage weeding of physical stock? How much do you involve tutors?
5. In academic libraries, to what extent are collection management staff involved in Open Access?
6. Do you usually collect suggestions from your users to by new materials for your collections?
7. In what ways will Open Access developments impact on collection management?
8. Any tips on collection management/weeding when you don't have any circulation stats?
I started with a couple of hurdles - trying to cook and eat fajitas at the same time as following was a bit tricky plus, this being my first Twitter 'chat' it took my husband to show me how to add Tweets whilst still following the conversation (oh dear!!). I got there in the end though! From those of us who posted, attendance was predominantly those working in academic libraries. However, not everyone introduced themselves so it wasn't always clear from what library context a particular comment was based on. Item 2 on the agenda asked us to identify our most challenging task or decision related to collections management. I commented: Trying to monitor demand when students don't tell us they can't find the book or don't reserve. @Annie_Bob, @cy3_ and @shibshabs also highlighted their frustration at the lack of input from tutors across subjects, particularly with regards to reading lists. This is a frustration I share, although it is more significant for our HE courses who have extensive reading lists than our FE.
Item 3 looked at how the increase in e-resources will affect the way collections are managed. This is less of an issue for academic libraries. E-resources to support students have been available for years and can increase the learning flexibility of the student, i.e. they don't have to visit the library every time they need high-quality information. However, I think a collection will always need printed materials, yes even duplicates of the online information, to support all learning preferences.
Next we moved on to my question about weeding. @Annie_Bob said that at a previous institution they used to give sheets of stickers to tutors who would walk the shelves putting stickers on items to be weeded. I like that approach and it could be co-ordinated with looking at usage statistics to ensure nothing students regularly use is withdrawn in error. However, @Annie_Bob did admit: Of course the hard part is getting them into the library. To try and solve that problem @cy3_ commented on how they hold a 'weed and feed', drawing tutors in with the promise of food!
A couple of the agenda items discussed Open Access which we are not involved in. We then discussed whether we gather stock suggestions from users and the consensus was yes - we want them to use our libraries! @Annie_Bob also mentioned that her institution has recently started a PDA trial (Patron Driven Acquisition) and this is something we'd like to do for our ebook collection. The final agenda item asked for tips on collection management and weeding when circulation stats are unavailable. I commented that you then have to rely more heavily on reading lists and tutor input and this was backed up by @poetryghost from a public library perspective by talking to patrons and staff. @Bibli_Jo_phile also highlighted the benefits of assessing the condition and publication date of items.
The chat drew to a close at 8.30pm after a good two hours' discussion. I like the idea of a 'weed and feed' although, to make the task more appealing to staff, maybe we could make a selection of items to withdraw first and they simply come to see if there's anything they want to 'save'. I found the chat a really good way to network with other professionals - for free! - and I've gained some new Twitter feeds to follow. I shall keep an eye out for any more relevant topics in the future.