Learning to Build Collections

Continuing on my theme from the last post, librarianship is unique in that it brings together individuals from various academic backgrounds. It also often requires a diverse set of job responsibilities, depending on the size and type of library. My role as a regional campus librarian effectively makes me a solo librarian representing my institution on this campus. As such, I’m responsible for providing library services to the students, faculty, and staff here who represent various academic departments.

The aforementioned services fall under the umbrella categories of reference, instruction, outreach, and collection development. The first three were all part of my previous job, and if you’ve been reading my blog you will quickly realize that I love instruction. Reference has been growing on me here. I get more challenging questions and work with librarians at the desk who are polite and passionate about what they do. Outreach is more of a challenge here because most of my faculty don’t spend much time on campus outside of the classroom, and my students blend in with the students from the partner institution. After seven months here, I feel better about my outreach efforts and am continuing to do what I can in that area.

The biggest challenge for me has been learning how to be a collection development librarian. Where I worked before I would often make suggestions if I came across a resource, and I was responsible for purchasing/negotiating with vendors for any online services. Where I am now, I don’t get much say in online purchases and have a budget to purchase physical materials. The librarians on our main campus are each assigned to one (or a few) subject areas for collection development, outreach, and instruction. Since I am on a regional campus, I have to do this for all the subjects taught at my campus.

The classes scheduled on my campus next semester are in business, psychology, public administration, biomedical sciences, law, education, and healthcare management/informatics. It’s a wide range that includes areas that I’m not familiar with (law and public admin) and some that I have a good handle on (psychology and education). My first challenge in learning to do collection development was to resist the urge to buy materials I felt comfortable with. I kept a list of current and upcoming classes by my side, and looked up course descriptions for the ones with which I was unfamiliar.

The next hurdle was to figure out which books to buy and where to look for books. I primarily used CHOICE Reviews and searched within subject specific databases for book reviews on the topics I needed. At first the process was overwhelming, but then I began to look at it more as a puzzle and my inner game lover took over. I tried to buy at least one book for each discipline/course, but it was a challenge. I also had to be aware of what we already had access to as eBooks and decided not to buy several titles because we had them fully online.

I feel good about what I’ve been able to purchase, and know that I’ve filled some big gaps in our collection. It’s nice to be able to support my institution along with my partner institution. I got my first shipment of books last week and I was thrilled to be able to see them in person. I have a new system in place for receiving books – mark off on my spreadsheet, add to a new titles Libguide, and email faculty in that discipline (or those who have requested the title specifically). I love my job because I get to meet new challenges and collaborate with colleagues in new ways. I welcome any suggestions from more seasoned collection developers!

2013-12-10 11.06.21First round of books!



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