In this week’s opinion piece, Michael Zeoli (of YBP Library Services) takes a close look at how collection development practices have evolved in academic libraries in recent years, especially since the advent of the ebook and proliferation of digital content. Regardless of how familiar book professionals are with complex purchasing models in academic settings, it is important that we understand how we ‘got here’ before we can understand how best to move forward. We also must acknowledge that we all willingly participated in the creation of complex business models for buying and managing content. We must now all participate in simplifying them. The reality is, as Michael explains, that the academic library book world is shrinking, even as more content is created and new technologies are implemented. This raises serious questions about the future of the academic library and the roles we all play in shaping it. Perhaps the most important sentence in the piece is: “All parts of our ecosystem have an active role to play; none should act out of fear and remain passive.” Full article below. —Ed.
Academic library staff has been shrinking for 2 decades, while the quantity of scholarly content has grown exponentially. In the 1960s Richard Abel & Company began the Approval Plan service as a systematic approach to help libraries manage the volume of new books published. Libraries rely on vendor services (i.e., companies catering to libraries) to discover and acquire much of scholarly content. Since the 90s, libraries have also depended on vendors to provide shelf-ready services for print books, customized cataloging, to manage financial transactions electronically, and to maintain online interfaces to support collection development and acquisitions processes. Ebooks brought another layer of labor and complexity to library workflows.