The Charleston Seminar: Being Earnest With Our Collections

by | Nov 11, 2014 | 0 comments


The Saturday rump session that was held at previous Charleston Conferences was replaced this year with a new Charleston Seminar which was entitled “Being Earnest With Our Collections: Determining Key Challenges and Best Practices”.  About 50 attendees enjoyed lunch and then heard four presentations from a panel of distinguished speakers.

Charleston Seminar

Charleston Seminar Attendees

Michael Levine-Clark, Associate Dean for Scholarly Communications and Collections Services, University of Denver, and Rebecca Seger, Director, Institutional Sales, Oxford University Press USA, reviewed key challenges and future possibilities for e-books.  They identified five key challenges:

  • Developing sustainable, flexible and predictable models in an era of budget crises in libraries, unpredictable revenue for publishers, short term loans, and multiple models.
  • Preservation of content, long-term access, and the choice of a hosting platform.
  • Sharing of resources. Libraries want interlibrary loan rights for e-books, which is a core value in the print world.
  • Course adoption. Many textbooks are now available as e-books, but libraries do not normally buy textbooks for their collections, which impacts their sales.
  • Future of the monograph.  New publishing models are causing challenges.  The book rental market is changing the economics of textbook publishing.  Print still matters within the context of e-books.

Robert MacDonald, Associate Dean for Library Technologies, Indiana University, and Jill Grogg, Electronic Resources Coordinator, University of Alabama, discussed mapping a cloud strategy and transitioning from legacy systems.  Public cloud usage is widespread; over 90% of businesses are now using it.  Libraries must decide when or if they should move their data to the cloud.  Key points include:  Where is my data?  How do I control it? How do I get it back out of the system?   They need to think about when is the right moment to migrate from a cost or service perspective; costs are currently decreasing, so it might be prudent to wait.

Moving to a cloud-based service is a large change for libraries; Jill Grogg discussed the human element of change.  Change involves communication, and understanding communication means understanding negotiation.  It is important to deal with questions showing anxiety at the time they come up, provide feedback, and move decisively.

Jonathan Harwell, Head of Collections and Services, Rollins College, and James Bunnelle, Acquisitions and Collection Development Librarian, Lewis & Clark College, discussed alternative serial distribution models for libraries. Libraries formerly made extensive use of subscription agents, but agents are going through change, and their days as managers of subscriptions are closing.  Libraries need them to be acquisitions agents. Faculty members want permanence and a feeling that the library is investing meaningfully.  We need to focus our attention on creating alternatives and provide point of need article-level access to our users.  Other issues include:

  • Selling books at the chapter level and determining how to provide interlibrary loan services for them.
  • Challenges for publishers to gain new subscriptions and for librarians to provide serial content.
  • Preservation of content and taking discovery to the next level by treating books and journals uniformly.

Rick Anderson, Associate Dean for Scholarly Resources and Collections, University of Utah, concluded the seminar with a presentation of a model of depth perception in academic libraries. He said that libraries are expected to provide services along two vectors: to students and faculty on campuses, and to a global scholarly communication environment and ecosystem.  Their needs are different and can be in contention with each other, especially because resources are limited. Anderson’s model (a matrix) lets us think about how this tension can be resolved.  Each of us is an employee of our libraries and our institutions.  To what degree do our personal philosophies correlate well with the organization that employs us?  Look at its expressed mission. Anderson challenged the audience to consider what motivates us and why are we in this profession.

Watch for a forthcoming article in Against The Grain with further details on this useful and interesting seminar.



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