Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Collection Building, Volume 34, Issue 1
I just spend three information packed days at the Charleston Conference in Charleston, South Carolina. For those of you who do not know this conference, it concentrates on collection development and acquisitions. It prides itself on being cutting edge and also on providing a forum for many to talk about their projects, products and research – both librarians and vendors.
The first speaker was Anthea Stratigos, the Chief Executive Officer of Outsell. She talked about the need for libraries to move to a more marketing orientation. Libraries need to deliver a brand experience and to be strategic marketers. She stated that libraries were a $25 billion industry. They need to make choices as to what to focus on. Her recent surveys indicated that library budgets are stable, but that print spending has declined and prices have risen about 3 per cent. She also talked about the vendors for libraries who need to push to expand and are competing for their share of the market with little expansion. Libraries, she said, must execute and deliver value and must market what matters to users.
The discussion of the role of e-resources and print materials continues. Although less print materials are being purchased, many libraries still buy and circulate print materials. A study of eight college libraries showed that a majority of the students preferred reading print books to e-books. Many are willing to read more than one chapter but less than a book online. Another study showed that students read more e-books if an e-book device was provided. A study of e-book bundles showed that only 20-35 per cent of the titles in a bundle were used, and many of those used were more like textbooks.
Patron-driven acquisitions (PDA) was one of the hot topics. A plenary session on it discussed the many pros and cons of PDA. There was concern about the overall quality of the collection if it is largely selected by the users. Questions were about the purpose of a collection selected by users and whether it would meet long-term user needs. There was a concern that with PDA many research materials will not be in the collection. Also patrons can only request what they can discover. PDA was acknowledged as a logical and democratic tool but maybe not the only way to select materials. PDA appears to be more effective in smaller libraries who are not trying to develop a research collection.
Once again, these sessions remind us how important our users are. Not every library has the same user population, so that what works in one library may not work in another. So surveys, focus groups and user studies continue to be important so libraries can develop collections to meet the needs of their users.
Kay Ann Cassell