Collection Management Strategies
resources have had a dramatic effect on the collections policies
and budgets of academic libraries. Historically at Boston College,
budgets were allocated by specific subject areas, and split between
monographic funds and serial subscriptions. For many years, the
traditional balance held at 40% monographs, 60% serials. With
the explosion of electronic resources, the balance began to shift.
Purchases of electronic resources were made primarily from monographic
allocations, with the result that in the past year, serials accounted
for 52%, electronic resources for 30%, and monographs for 18%.
Projecting those figures lead to a grim prognosis; without a plan,
monographic purchases will continue to decline, and the budget
will be consumed by subscription and access fees for serials and
Another factor with major impact on the budget is the skyrocketing
cost of serials, particularly in the sciences. The University
has generously given the Library materials budget an annual increase
of about 4%; even in years when many libraries experienced significant
cuts to the budget, we received this increase. Unfortunately,
in the area of serials, the increases in our costs range from
6%-15%; we've been losing purchasing power for close to a decade.
Two years ago the Library completed a small project to cancel
periodicals, resulting in a 5% budget relief. At this point, we
need to look for a more strategic approach to collection management,
or to undertake a major cancellation project just to balance expenditures.
Identifying ways to free up funds for new resources is also crucial.
Over the past year we have begun approaching collection management
more strategically by implementing a formal review process for
all electronic resources. There is an expectation that this process
may enable us to eliminate some resources, and to make better
choices among electronic resources we offer. We are in the process
of identifying a task force of subject specialists to lead a collection
management initiative. This group, working in collaboration with
all subject specialists, will identify strategies for the reduction
of print resources, especially periodicals, in favor of electronic,
for the reduction of duplication among resources, for increasing
monographic purchasing, and they will investigate broader based
approaches to electronic resource budget allocations. The task
force will seek to secure as much faculty input as possible in
drawing up these strategies.
The collections and resources of BC Libraries have expanded dramatically
over the past decade. Complementing the print volumes that now
number over two million and the increasingly strong collections
in serials, government documents, media, and microforms are the
numerous excellent digital resources that support research and
the curriculum. However, we have now reached a pivotal point in
resource management. We must carefully define and articulate our
future collection management vision for the Boston College Libraries,
and ensure that we remain attuned to the needs of the curriculum
and the faculty research we support.
Associate University Librarian for Collection Services