Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Collection Building, Volume 27, Issue 3
Assessment or analysis of collections has grown in importance in the last few years. Peggy Johnson in Fundamentals of Collection Development & Management (ALA, 2004) states that the “real intent (of collection analysis) is to measure the collection’s utility or how well it is satisfying its purpose”. It provides an opportunity to examine the collection, to assess the need for new materials, to weed materials or put them in storage and to compare a collection with that of similar libraries. This journal along with many others have published articles on different methods of assessment. These methods can be either quantitative or qualitative or a mix of the two. Quantitative measures can include using size and growth of the collection and its budget, using circulation statistics, using interlibrary loan statistics, using in-house use statistics, and evaluating the currency of the collection through publication dates. Or qualitative measures can be used such as list checking, direct collection checking, brief test of collection strength, user opinion surveys and focus groups.. For example, libraries can check their collection against current lists such as Resources for College Libraries, Public Library Core Collection, other subject specific lists, and the new Guide to Reference.
An early means of assessment was the use of the Conspectus to develop common vocabulary to describe collection strength and then to evaluate the strength of collections and to compare collections among libraries. Technology has made it easier to both evaluate and compare collections. In this issue Henry, Longstaff and Van Kampen in “Collection analysis outcomes in an academic library” discuss a multi-instrument analysis of the collection at St Leo College Library. Focusing on quantitative analysis the Library first did a physical inventory of the collection and then used the OCLC WorldCat Collection Analysis tool to provide information on the collection strengths and weaknesses, uniqueness and overlap, age and format. The St Leo collection was compared with several similar libraries to find out if the “library is on target with what other libraries are doing”.
Previous articles in Collection Building have included Jim Agee’s overview article, “Collection evaluation: a foundation for collection development”, in Vol. 24, No. 1, and Jennifer Benedettto Beals’ article, “Assessing collections using brief test and WorldCat collection analysis,” in Vol. 26, No. 4. Benedetto Beals describes the analysis of one subject in three academic libraries using two methods of evaluation, brief test and WorldCat Collection analysis, to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of collections.
This area, assessment and analysis of collections, will continue to grow and expand as librarians explore the best ways to understand the status of their collection and its needs. We hope to publish more articles on this subject in the future.
Kay Ann Cassell