The Collection policies for the University of British Columbia were written in the late 1990’s though a consultation process with subject specialists and faculty. During that time the landscape was described as one of changing curriculum and research interests and a changing fiscal base. It also reflected a transition from collecting material in analog form to include electronic access. Today, we would describe a similar landscape for the library and efforts will be made to review these policies and update them again.
The policies statements were developed as a way to provide a basis for training librarians who are assuming new collection management duties, for establishing which library branches cover what subject fields and in what depth, and to help lay the framework for discussions between librarians and faculty regarding collecting levels. As the policies are re-visited, it is hoped that we will be able to identify subject areas that should be increased or decreased. It is a desire of the Library to build upon our collecting strengths in conjunction with fostering other cooperative collection development and resource sharing endeavors provincially and nationally.
Organization of Collection Management
In general subject liaisons and unit heads manage many collection tasks at the branch level. Subject specialists utilize the approval plan approach for monographic acquisitions. Decisions are made at the branch level on the selection of materials in all formats as well as de-selection, ongoing resource fiscal management, maintenance and implementation of collection policies. Subject specialists also liaise with faculty and students to determine changing needs, fund management, and handling of gifts. It is expected that subject specialists and unit heads would suggest and propose resource sharing initiatives. The coordination of all these tasks is handled by the Associate University Librarian, Collections. In addition the AUL Collections administers subject fund allocations, provides leadership on acquisition and collecting policies and best practices, attends various Library advisory Committees, promotes cooperative collection development and coordinates the activities of the Collections Advisory Committee which consist of Library unit heads, technical services staff and subject specialists.
How are decisions made?
Decisions on individual monographs are usually made by the subject specialists at the branch level. Decisions about reference resources, expensive online databases are usually made by several subject specialists in consultation with the unit head, Collections Advisory Committee and the AUL, Collections. Many factors are considered as a part of the decision process for the acquisition of a resource.
The criteria includes:
- relevancy to curriculum, teaching and research at UBC
- reliability of publisher
- relationship to other works in the collection
- availability from other libraries and electronic sources
- Current (e.g. published within the past five years), unless historical perspectives, classic texts, or older core works are required to provide users with necessary information about the topic.
- Conversion of legacy collection to digital is a priority if content is still of value, and appropriate to support the research initiatives of the university.
- Serial agents, consortia, approval plans, individual selection
- Cooperative collection development and resource sharing
- Center for Research Libraries
- Collaboration with UBC Faculties
The library acquires and subscribes to a large amount of digital licensed materials. With regard to criteria for online resources, the library considers many factors:
- Is this from a stable content provider?
- Does the license limit the ability of the library to engage in or conduct any activity that would not constitute an infringement under Canadian copyright laws, in respect of the copyrighted work.
- Is there secure access to the title by a license agreement?
- Is perpetual access to electronic content is stipulated in the agreement or through another source such as Portico, CLOCKSS, LOCKSS, Scholar’s Portal
- Are cancellation rights are guaranteed by the licensor or through some other source such as Portico, or the requirement is deemed unnecessary by the subject specialist
- Does the resource provide adequate content reproduction (including editorials, images, advertisements)?
- Is this the publication of record?
- Is there established reliable access to the content?
- Is there simultaneous availability of electronic edition and print?
- Does the resource have an unique durable/persistent URL
- Does the license supports ILL, course pack inclusion and or persistent URL or DOI
Generally Technical Services staff assist with the order preparation, process the orders, receive the materials, catalogue the items and process the payments.
The AUL Collections allocates the budget into the various subject resource funds taking into account the historical precedence, changing curriculum and research needs and the growth of the literature in the various disciplines. Also taken into consideration are the average costs and price increases, currency fluctuations, and the previous year’s expenditures. The Library also wants to build upon existing collection strengths.
The collections budget allocations are as follows:
Acquisition of Materials
The UBC Library works with a number of vendors and agents to bring in materials for the collections.
- Approval Plans: In approval plans, commercial vendors supply books that meet the library’s specific subject parameters immediately after their publication. The plans are a quick, simple, and economical method for acquiring a core of current trade and scholarly materials in selected subject areas. Present approval plans automatically provide current publications from the United States, Canada, Australia, and most countries of Europe and Latin America. Because of curriculum changes, budgetary considerations, and other factors, approval plans are subject to periodic modification. For current details on these plans, contact your subject specialist
- Title selection: Selectors also order a variety of materials that do not arrive on approval plans. Contact your subject specialist for more information.
For the past fifteen years, because of budgetary limitations, currency fluctuations and yearly double-digit inflationary price increases, the library has found it necessary to reduce serials subscriptions a number of times. Because we know that we will have to reduce serials expenditures on average every two years, library subject specialists keep an eye on potential serials that no longer meet the retention criteria –less useful to teaching, research and the curriculum, duplicate titles, double digit inflationary increases that cannot be justified, little evidence of use, minimal citing by faculty, a foreign language of less importance to UBC faculty and students, and those titles that are neither indexed nor abstracted. It is important that faculty and subject specialists stay in close touch since these lists are continually refined.
Because of these budgetary limitations, the library has been in a no-growth budget for serials for several years. For every new journal or serial added, a serial of similar price must be canceled. Despite this practice, the University of British Columbia still finds that it devotes a higher percentage of its budget to serials. To institute a new serial subscription, contact your subject specialist. The subject specialist will discuss with the academic departments concerned which other serials might be canceled in order to fund the new subscription.
The library recognizes that new serials are being published at a exponential pace, and that these new serials may be of greater value than the serials we presently subscribe to. For these reasons, the University of British Columbia continually reviews its subscriptions and the money available for new purchases. The library is willing to explore partnerships with campus departments and faculties to support new serials.