New Brunswick Collection Development Group, minutes: Oct. 13, 2000
Present: Brian Hancock, Adeline Tallau, Ellen Gilbert, Kevin Mulcahey, Ryoko Toyama, Gracemary Smulewitz, Myoung Wilson, Howard Dess, Kayo Denda, Ryan Womack, Emily Fabiano, Mary Fetzer, Ben Beede, Ron Jantz, Tom Glynn (minutes).
Ryoko suggested a response to faculty concerns over Science Direct. The Digital Library Initiative directs us to take advantage of "every opportunity" to enhance digital access to information. Science Direct is a part of the DLI, which was supported at a meeting of the New Brunswick Faculty. It is our responsibility to make this clear to members of our departments.
Generally speaking, his report indicates that the approval plan is working well. The return rate for all subjects was just under six percent, which means we are keeping more than 94% of what Blackwell’s is sending us. There was a good deal variation; the rates ranged from zero to 19.4%. This might indicate that some selectors with higher returns might consider making their profiles tighter. However, Kevin suggested that this variation has more to do with the nature of publishing within certain disciplines than with the adequacy of the approval plan. In English, for example, almost all of what is published is of a scholarly nature, whereas in a field like social work it is necessary to weed out some of the titles aimed at practioners.
The approval plan is also working very well in terms of the discount we receive from Blackwell’s on the books that are covered. Kevin estimates that we saved approximately $113,000 during the last fiscal year this way.
The discussion that followed touched on several points. It was suggested that we try to generate statistics that would shed light on the adequacy of the plan. For example, we might compare circulation figures for books that come on approval with those purchased as firm orders. We discussed the fact that there are no real incentives to limit our approval plan purchases, since the money comes from a central fund rather than allocations for each discipline. In particular, there is a disincentive to buy a paperback edition of a book that is coming in as a hardcover; we can save money doing so, but the price of the paperback comes out of a selector’s firm order budget, rather than the approval plan. There are ways to change your profile so that more titles come in as paperbacks, but we would like to make the decision on a title by title basis.
Kevin can send you a WordPerfect file, if you didn’t get a copy of the report at the meeting. He can also show you the detailed printout from which the report was distilled. It includes details that you might find helpful, such as return rates for particular presses.
There are a number of choices presently on the market. They can hold up to 100,000 pages of text. Prices range from $200 for a product called the ebook to $700 for something call the softbook to more expensive products. Different companies are using different models for acquiring the books, printing from them, etc. Generally they make their electronic texts specific to the electronic books they manufacture; that is, you can only read their electronic text on their electronic book. It is possible that laptops could fill the niche for which these electronic books are competing, but they would have to be cheaper and lighter. Wireless modem technology could enhance their use as electronic books.
For now it seems that the area in which electronic books might work very well is the publication of textbooks. Students could download all the books they need for a semester, rather than haul around heavy, cumbersome books in a backpack. That probably will not happen in the near future. When libraries eventually become involved with electronic books, we will need to look closely at archival issues. If we aren’t allowed to print a copy and the company providing the electronic text fails, do we then lose access to a book we’ve paid for?
Rudy Bell in the history department is working with some honors undergraduates using Early English Books Online, to which we have purchased access. For the current project, Early English Advice Manuals Online, students choose a text of popular advice and download it to the E-AMOR database. Users can then search the EEBO bibliographic records or browse various fields. Currently about 170 of the total of 90,000 books available in EEBO have been downloaded.
The study is in four parts. The first lists titles held in paper at Douglass, the library with the greatest need for a reconfiguration of the periodical holdings. The other four list titles by discipline. For each title there is a recommendation for withdrawing the incomplete holdings at one or more libraries and consolidating our holdings in one library. For many titles there will be a film as well as a paper copy at one library. In most cases we will retain a paper subscription, since JSTOR doesn’t provide the full-text of current issues.
Gracemary, Ben, and Addie were appointed a taskforce, chaired by Gracemary, to convert the study into a plan of action. They will try to present their report by the end of the semester. They will need the cooperation of selectors to insure that the departments are informed of the upcoming changes.
You can get a copy of the study from Ben.
**The next meeting of the Collections Group was rescheduled because it conflicted with the New Brunswick Library Faculty meeting. We will meet instead at 9:30 on November 9 at LSM.**