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Disseminating quality controlled scientific knowledge

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Author(s): Steven Sowards

Journal: MLA Forum
ISSN 1539-4123

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Date: 2002;
Original page

Keywords: Collection Development | Academic Libraries

ABSTRACT
Smaller academic libraries rely on suggestions from classroom faculty to enrich their selection of monographs. This practice taps into faculty knowledge of their disciplines, and helps a limited number of collection development librarians build sound collections that support all teaching departments. Maximizing the benefits of faculty involvement requires evaluation of their performance. Most previous studies have tried to analyze the circulation or relevance of their choices. The present study instead looks at the regularity of participation by faculty members. More than 5,000 book orders from 46 faculty members in five humanities departments at a liberal arts college were examined on a monthly basis during a three-year period. While nearly all faculty members took some part in book ordering, participation was uneven. Few faculty selectors were involved during every year. A minority of selectors was far more active than its colleagues, and was responsible for a majority of orders. Also, the number of orders submitted by individuals and by departments varied substantially from one month to another. These observations imply compensating steps by librarians. Collection development librarians can buy in less active areas, and use approval plans to promote balanced coverage. To deal with peaks and valleys in workflows, technical services units can build flexibility into assignments and acquisition budgets.
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