Collection Development 101

Ever wonder why the SPU Library does not have that expensive textbook that you need or the latest John Grisham novel, but you do find books with dull brown covers, unexciting titles, and maybe even a speck of dust? Well, the content of those books may not be quite as unappealing as they seem, so what follows is a little Collection Development 101.

The mission of the SPU Library is to support the teaching, learning and research goals of the University. We do this by collecting materials – books, journals, electronic resources, DVDs, CDs, and even a puppet or two! – that support courses in the undergraduate and graduate curriculum, materials expected in a library of a university of our size, and materials that reflect SPU’s mission, history, and signature statements.

The primary responsibility for this work lies with the subject liaison librarians, and they use a variety of resources to help them in this endeavor. The liaisons receive recommendations from faculty (and others), they consult the professional literature for resource reviews, and they also use special library tools that provide guidance.

Besides deciding what to add to the collection, the liaisons must also decide the best format to acquire. For example, CDs are procured for the music department and the aforementioned puppets for the education department. Lately, the library has also been collecting more and more eBooks.

Collection Development is not just about selecting new materials though. The library often receives book donations, and the liaisons must decide how to best handle these items. It also stands to reason that if new items are continually being added to the collection, other items may be deselected, or “weeded” as we like to say using library lingo. Weeded items are materials that no longer meet the library’s mission. (One indication may be that speck of dust noted earlier.) These items are handled in a variety of ways, but one place you may find them is on the Book Sale cart on the main level.

Still wondering why the library does not have that expensive textbook? The reason is that one criterion we use when making collection development decisions is to purchase items with lasting value and because many textbooks are continually being updated they do not meet this criterion. And although we may not have that John Grisham novel either, should you need a break from your studies, please do check out the Popular Fiction Collection on the library’s main level. And in the meantime, enjoy our collection!

-Becky Paulson, Acquisitions Librarian

LIBRARY SOUP

“Library Perspective,” by Gary R. Fick; Professor of Natural Sciences; Sciences & Psychology Librarian

I’ve worked in libraries for almost half a century, including SPU’s library for over the last 38. In about two months I’m going to retire. I’ve worked part-time first as a page in a city public library system shelving books and checking out materials for patrons, then as a guard at the same small urban branch, and finally at a large university library reference desk helping students locate books and journal articles to find the right information for their assignments.

With a newly-minted Master’s degree in librarianship, I was hired full-time as the science specialist for Seattle Pacific College way back in 1974 when bell-bottom pants and paisley shirts for guys with long hair and side-burns were all the rage.  I’ve worked at Seattle Pacific ever since, including a decade in library administration, first as an associate director and then as the University Librarian who helped design and build the present brick building we now call our campus library.

So, as old-timers like me tend to say, I’ve seen it all. Over the past 48 years I’ve watched and experienced the ways we’ve changed going about collecting and storing data. At first card catalogs, vertical files, flat files, hanging files, print periodical indexes and the Dewey Decimal System were used to organize and locate books, encyclopedias, newspapers, magazines, journals, micro-cards, microfiche, microfilm, filmstrips, 16mm films, 8mm film loops, LP records, and audiocassettes back in the 70s for Seattle Pacific. Then came online computerized library cataloging systems, dial-up DIALOG subject databases, desk-top computers, email, the world wide web, CD-ROM databases, videocassettes and CDs. Finally, DVDs replaced videocassettes, the Library of Congress replaced the Dewey Decimal System, and many forms of storing data have morphed into internet databases with e-books, full-text, PDF, and HTML documents, all facilitated via laptops and iPads. Instead of access just to our collection, we now belong to a consortium of academic libraries that shares collections, and together we offer a demand driven acquisitions program that provides specific e-books when patrons want them.

That’s what you see when you walk into the library or go online these days, but what I’ll miss most when I retire are the many ways I’ve had a chance to help people both find the information they need and teach them how to find it in better ways. While at SPU I’ve worked with most segments of the community, but for the past 17 years I’ve focused on serving both students and faculty as a liaison librarian. I’ve found helping people learn to be very rewarding.

For me these professional interactions have been enhanced through a time-worn truism. Walking a mile in the other’s shoes by also being a classroom teacher in Biology, a library administrator, a chair of faculty governance, and even a student in an introductory Spanish language class has allowed me to experience SPU from varied perspectives. And, in so doing, has helped make me a better librarian.

Q & A With Library Staff: Stephanie Rubesh

Stephanie Rubesh, a 2011 graduate of SPU, recently joined the library staff as our new Access Services Technician and student worker supervisor. Stephanie worked for the library as a student and later served a temporary position in the Circulation department. She obtained her B.A. in Creative Writing and Theater.

What are some things you are responsible for in your new position?

As the new Access Services Technician, I have some pretty legendary shoes to fill…however, I am doing my best to carry on the torch. I’m responsible for helping keep the library website up-to-date and edited, and also am in charge of book displays and the new book shelf, amongst other things.

Can you share a little bit about your experiences growing up abroad?

I grew up in the jungle – kind of. I spent all of my growing up years in Sri Lanka…the tiny island at the tip of India. My town is called Kandy and besides being the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, and home to 125 thousand people, we have a great number of monkeys and elephants that live there also. I went to a Sri Lankan school and a Sri Lankan church, and therefore “speak funny” and have an unbridled passion for spicy food. My mother is from the south of Germany, and my father is an American who hails from the Northwest, so I do enjoy coming from a cultural soup pot of a family! I would love to go back and teach English in Sri Lanka or anywhere in South East Asia sometime in the upcoming future.

Any new book recommendations?

I’m a big fiction fan – most recently I’ve been enjoying books by Isabelle Allende (Island Beneath the Sea, for instance) and rereading Tolkien (The Hobbit is my all-time favorite book). I also enjoy poetry, creative non-fiction and anything written by P.G. Wodehouse (start with The World of Jeeves for a hilarious introduction to the genius of Wodehouse).

Welcome aboard, Stephanie! We’re thrilled to have you here at the SPU Library.