Acquisitions and Collection Development

Huron Street Press furthers ALA’s mission to the public

Have you heard of the American Library Association's new publishing imprint? Huron Street Press, in line with ALA’s mission to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all, publishes a variety of titles designed to appeal to a broad consumer and library market. Its publications harness the expertise of the ALA, while encouraging library use among the public, joining other initiatives such as @ your library and ILoveLibraries.

Several Huron Street Press titles are now available for order or pre-order through Independent Publishers Group as well as numerous traditional retail outlets in both print and e-book editions:

  • Read with Me: Best Books for Preschoolers, by Stephanie Zvirin
  • Build Your Own App for Fun and Profit, by Scott La Counte
  • The Entrepreneur's Starter Kit: 50 Things to Know Before Starting a Business, by Paul Christopher
  • Working from Home: Earn a Living Where You Live, by Jane Jerrard
  • Queue Tips: Discovering Your Next Great Movie, by Rob Christopher
  • I Don't Want to Go to College: Other Paths to Success, by Heather Hutchins
  • Silly Books to Read Aloud, by Rob Reid
  • Remarkable Books About Young People with Special Needs, by Alison Follos
  • The Work/Life Balance Planner: Resetting Your Goals, by Ann Kepler
  • Finding Your Roots: Easy-to-Do Genealogy and Family History, by Janice Schultz

Check them out!

Is It About Us, or Is It About Them? Libraries and Collections in a Patron-Driven World

As budgets get tighter and prices keep rising, libraries are increasingly forced to think about ways to minimize waste in their collections. A sudden sharp interest in patron-driven acquisition solutions is one indicator of this concern, the idea being that when we let patrons select the books we buy, the less likely we are to buy books they don't want.

But this trend gives rise to deeply uncomfortable questions. What does "waste" actually mean in a library collection—especially in a research library? Can we ever know for certain that an uncirculated book won't be important at some point in the future? Won't patron-driven processes lead to a breakdown in the collection's coherence? And if we're just here to "give the people what they want," what meaningful function do librarians serve? Do we just become shipping-and-receiving clerks?

These are serious questions, and to answer them thoroughly would require more space than I have here. (I did offer answers to these and related ones in a posting earlier this year at the Scholarly Kitchen.) As we all wrestle with them in our own institutions, however, I think it's important to divide the questions into two broad categories: which ones address the needs of our patrons, and which ones reflect our insecurity about our own status and position as librarians?

Sometimes the line between the two concerns is fuzzy. For example, when we express concern about simply "giving the people what they want," is it because we're genuinely afraid that our patrons aren't always the best judges of which resources will serve their needs best, or is it because we sense a lessening appreciation for our hard-won expertise?

When we worry about a deterioration in the coherence of our collections, are we afraid that our collections will no longer serve our patrons' research needs, or are we afraid that our collections will no longer reflect well on our skill and insight as bibliographers?

Of course, it's very possible to be concerned about both sides of these issues. But I think it matters very much where our primary concerns lie. If we approach the future in an attitude of fear and reaction—doing whatever we can to preserve our own position and status, trying to avoid having to learn new skills (even radically different ones), clinging to a model of librarianship that is time-honored but may not provide well for the needs of present and future library users—we'll succeed only at moving further to the margins of our users' information experience.

Library collections exist for one purpose only: to connect users to the information they need. The more we lose sight of that fact, the more irrelevant our work will become to those we are meant to serve.

Continuing the Conversation: Patron-Driven Acquisition, Part 2

We just wrapped up the second session of the ALA Editions Workshop Patron-Driven Acquisition: Radically Rethinking the Collection  with Rick Anderson. We had some fantastic discussion during this event, and we’re using the comments area of this post to continue it. Whether you attended or not, feel free to join the conversation!

Rick’s Takeaway Questions from this Workshop

  • What problems am I trying to solve?
  • How does my institution define waste?
  • What is my library trying to do with its collections?
  • How big a role should patron-driven strategies play in my library?
  • What characteristics do I need to be looking for in a PDA model?

Rick’s Slides
Patron-Driven Acquisition: Radically Re-Thinking the Collection, Part 2

Patron-Driven Acquisition: Rick Anderson Answers Your Questions

Due to the large number of questions that emerged from the first session of Rick Anderson's workshop Patron-Driven Acquisition: Radically Re-Thinking the Collection, we have posted Rick's responses as a separate blog post. Rick's answers are below--feel free to chime in via the comments area and join in the discussion!

What’s your definition of Patron-Driven Acquisition?

Fundamentally, it's any system whereby documents are acquired by the library in response to patrons' direct requests or selections, rather than in response to librarians' speculations about which specific documents patrons are going to need. At a basic level, this kind of acquisition has existed for as long as patrons have had "Request a Book" options. But in the current environment, PDA usually refers to much more ambitious and comprehensive programs that make the patron a central figure in the selection process.

I've been moving away from the term "Patron-Driven Acquisition" in favor of the term "Patron-Driven Access," because I'm becoming less convinced that permanent acquisition of materials by the library is always the right outcome of a PDA transaction. In many cases, the transaction might result in short-term access, or even in a personal copy for the patron. This, of course, calls into question the whole foundation of traditional librarianship, which is why I spent so much time discussing the history and philosophy of library collections during the first part of the workshop.

The presentation presumes that print is dead, which is debatable. The Gutenberg led to mass -produced books, therefore allowing multiple simultaneous users. Could you elaborate or give your perspective on the difference between book as abstract text and book as object?

My presentation does not actually presume that print is dead. What I emphasized was that print is a very bad format for distribution and research—it remains a very good format for extended linear reading, but that kind of use is only one of many that documents get in a research setting.  I also have to disagree that Gutenberg technology allows for multiple simultaneous users. It allows for multiple copies, but each copy can only realistically be used by one person at a time—and what a library almost always owns is a single copy.

My perspective on the difference between book as abstract text and book as object would be that in the general, circulating collection of a research library, the book-as-object matters not at all. It matters only as a container of intellectual content, and the important question is not "How do we make this physical object available?" but rather "How do we make this content available?" In some cases, the best way to make the content available will be by providing access to a physical object. But I would argue that in a research library, the best way to provide access is usually to make the content available online rather than to put a physical copy on a shelf. (There are exceptions, of course, but I'm proposing a general principle.) Some books, obviously, are valuable in and of themselves as physical artifacts. For the most part, those books do not belong in a circulating collection; they belong in Special Collections.

If librarians aren’t good at selecting, who is? Selection by librarians saves the time of the user. People want the best sources, but often settle for the easiest to find. Librarians’ selection skills give users accurate information. Regarding the concept of “at least one use,”  do we have research on whether what patrons acquire is what they need?

Being "good at selecting" means knowing what it is that patrons actually need in order to accomplish their work. Patrons don't know perfectly what they need, of course—but they know much better than librarians do. Selection by librarians only saves the time of the user if the librarian actually succeeds at guessing what the user will need, and all available research suggests that we do so with a very high failure rate (roughly 40%). I'm not sure exactly what the sentence "Librarians' selection skills give users accurate information" means—is it trying to say that librarians are better at discriminating between high-quality (i.e. more accurate) and low-quality sources? Or does it mean that when librarians select resources, we also provide accurate information about those sources? In any case, I'm not sure the assertion stands up to examination. For one thing, especially in a research library, our patrons often know the literature better than we do; for another, it's important to remember that useful documents are not always the "best" ones. For example, the Michael Bellesiles book "Arming America" is a very bad book—it's full of misrepresented data, fabricated sources, and fallacious arguments. So as a source for understanding the history of gun ownership in America, it's a very poor resource. However, as a resource for understanding the national conversation about gun ownership and gun control in modern America, it's an absolutely essential document. If you believe that the purpose of a library is to provide only high-quality resources, you might be tempted to withdraw that book. But if you believe the purpose of a library is to support the scholarly work of its patrons, you might be less tempted to do so. What all of this points up is the tremendous complexity of the idea of scholarly quality, and therefore of the librarian's role as an assessor of quality on the patron's behalf.

It seems there is a tension between libraries roles in archiving and giving access.For large research libraries, collecting for current users has to go hand-in-hand with preserving the scholarly record for unanticipated future uses. Circulation statistics can’t capture that role, yet it’s important.

Yes, the tension between archiving and access is real. In the print environment, the tension is primarily one of access versus control: you always pay for access with control (i.e. archival permanence), because the more access you grant to the physical item, the more its integrity is threatened; and you always pay for control with access, because the more control you impose on an item the harder it is for people to use it. In the online environment, where access doesn't tend to threaten directly the integrity of the document, access vs. archiving is more of a financial issue: how do we provide all the access our patrons need now while at the same time providing for future access to things they don't yet realize they need?

The answer, of course, is that we are only equipped to do one of those things well. We are in a position to meet current needs fairly well; we are in a very bad position to meet all possible future needs—partly because we can't possibly know what those needs will be, and partly because we can't afford to meet all of them even if we knew what they were going to be. But this is nothing new. No individual library has ever provided for all future needs, and even in the aggregate we have only done so marginally well.

Are libraries using PDA with media other than books and articles?

Not that I'm aware of—we haven't gotten there yet! It's still a new enough idea that we're all still wrestling with the implications for books and articles.

What are the considerations for the library's systems department in implementing PDA?

Good question. The implications can be considerable, depending on the PDA model used, but they don't have to be. I'll discuss this more during the second part of the workshop.

Continuing the Conversation: Patron-Driven Acquisition: Radically Re-Thinking the Collection, Session 1

Due to the large number of questions that emerged from the first session of Rick Anderon's workshop Patron-Driven Acquisition: Radically Re-Thinking the Collection, we have posted Rick's responses as a separate blog post. Feel free to chime in via the comments area and join in the discussion!

We just wrapped up the first session of the ALA Editions Workshop Patron-Driven Acquisition: Radically Rethinking the Collection  with Rick Anderson. We had some fantastic discussion during this event, and we’re using the comments area of this post to continue it. Whether you attended or not, feel free to join the conversation!

Discussion Questions

  • What’s your definition of Patron-Driven Acquisition?
  • The presentation presumes that print is dead, which is debatable. The Gutenberg led to mass -produced books, therefore allowing multiple simultaneous users. Could you elaborate or give your perspective on the difference between book as abstract text and book as object?
  • If librarians aren’t good at selecting, who is? Selection by librarians saves the time of the user. People want the best sources, but often settle for the easiest to find. Librarians’ selection skills give users accurate information. Regarding the concept of “at least one use,”  do we have research on whether what patrons acquire is what they need?
  • It seems there is a tension between libraries roles in archiving and giving access.For large research libraries, collecting for current users has to go hand-in-hand with preserving the scholarly record for unanticipated future uses. Circulation statistics can’t capture that role, yet it’s important.
  • Are libraries using PDA with media other than books and articles?
  • What are the considerations for the library's systems department in implementing PDA?

Rick’s SlidesPatron-Driven Acquisition: Radically Re-Thinking the Collection, Session 1

Workshop Readings: Patron-Driven Acquisitions

Rick Anderson will present the two-part webinar "Patron-Driven Acquisition: Radically Rethinking the Collection" on October 5 and October 26. Visit the listing in the ALA Store for more information. If you’re attending the Workshop or simply thinking about patron-driven acquisition, take a look at Rick’s selection of preliminary readings.


"Perceptions of Libraries, 2010: Context and Community" (OCLC),http://www.oclc.org/reports/2010perceptions.htm
 

"Print on the Margins: Circulation Trends in Major Research Libraries"
(Rick Anderson),http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/home/890835264/print_on_the_margins_circulation.html.csp

"A Dialogue on PDA" (Rick Anderson and Sandy Thatcher), http://bit.ly/ptY0cb

"The Innovator's Dilemma: Disruptive Change and Academic Libraries" (David Lewis), http://hdl.handle.net/1805/173

"Reflections on the Future of Library Collections" (David Lewis),
http://www.library.arizona.edu/conferences/ltf/2006/documents/LewisLTF6Coll4-06.ppt

Demystifying Copyright: How to Educate Your Staff and Community

Lesley Ellen Harris will be teaching the ALA Editions eCourse Demystifying Copyright: How to Educate Your Staff and Community beginning on September 12th. You can learn more about the course and register for it at the ALA Store.

In July 2011, in one of her first interviews upon becoming the U.S. Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante was asked by Nate Anderson from ARS Technica if the extra attention caused by increased public interest in copyright had complicated life in the U.S. Copyright Office. Pallante’s response:

“I'm thrilled that more people care about copyright. I graduated from law school in 1990 and copyright was kind of a growing field then—environmental law was also newly hot—and it's only gotten bigger and better since. I do look at it sometimes with amusement; the field I obviously fell in love with right off the bat has gained so much attention.

            But I think it's great that the public is interested. It presents a lot of challenges but a lot of opportunities. I would like to see people respect copyright, I would like to see them know how copyright works, what it means for them in their daily lives.

            It's one of those life skills now, right? When you graduate from high school or college, you should know how to read a map, you should know how to use GPS, you should know a little bit about copyright. If you are somebody who is going to be in a field where you will encounter copyrighted materials all the time, you should know more. If you're going to be an artist or musician and you're getting a red-hot degree in the performing arts, you should know a lot. And I don't think that's quite the case—I don't think it's been built into curricula.”

What is Copyright Education and Why is it Important to you?

Libraries in organizations of all sizes are increasingly responsible for obtaining copyright permissions and providing information about copyright law. An increasing role of libraries as “copyright administrators” is to educate various internal people and departments and sometimes the public too about the basics of copyright laws, compliance with copyright guidelines, and respecting terms and conditions in license agreements.

Librarians who want to be perceived as the YES person for obtaining access to use content must be able to educate their community on copyright and licensing. Yet there is no exact definition of the concept of copyright education.  First, it is important that the copyright education be framed according to the needs of and in the context of your own enterprise. You will then need to be creative in developing and instituting an enterprise-wide education program. Your goals will be to increase the comfort level of staff in applying copyright in day-to-day situations, to lower the risk of employees infringing copyright law, and to lower potential or actual costs relating to copyright infringement.

Information about copyright law should come from a variety of sources from print and online information to discussion groups and seminars, courses and workshops. An online course beginning September 12, 2011 covers the following topics:

  • Understanding the risks of copyright infringement and how to protect your library from lawsuits
  • Understanding the need for copyright compliance nationally and globally
  • Evaluating copyright issues in your library
  • Developing a copyright education plan
  • Assessing materials, content and technology in order to equip an instruction team for your institution
  • Keeping your educational program up to date

Taking an active role in copyright education in your library is a giant step towards copyright compliance and management.

“Demystifying Copyright: How to Educate Your Staff and Your Community” offered by ALA Editions and taught by Lesley Ellen Harris (www.copyrightlaws.com), a copyright, licensing and digital property lawyer. Online content will be presented over a four-week period with opportunities to post to online discussion boards, complete weekly assignments and activities and discuss your individual questions.

For more information regarding online learning, see 

http://ow.ly/5EA6B

Your advice for on-line learners? By Joshua Kim     

Graphic Novels in Education

Having written Graphic Novels in Your School Library based on my work as a school librarian, I’ve been thinking about ways to apply the graphic novel format to the purposes of educations for a long time now.  While many still consider its potential in this area dubious, it is not much of a stretch to bring works like Shaun Tan’s the Arrival into the classroom or school media center to explore nuances of immigration, or Gene Yang’s American Born Chinese to brew a discussion about racism and diversity, or even to use Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s Civil War to ignite a complex debate about the heated topic of privacy vs. security with high school students.  There are many titles with great possibilities for direct curricular application.  But to take this route and only this route is to ignore the goldmine that all of these narratives are riding on, which is to say the form itself.

Try this in the classroom or as a library project.  Familiarize your students with the three rudiments of sequential art language: the gutter (the space between the two panels which tricks the reader’s imagination into creating the passage of time), codes and symbols (everything from speed lines to word and thought balloons to curse symbols), words (anything spoken by a character, written within the narrative captions or any sound effects).  Once they understand these rudiments, supply paper and pencils and run them through the following two exercises.

  1. Using one to three panels for each instance, depict a person jumping five different ways (thus five different one-to-three panel depictions).  Use the gutter, codes and symbols, words, facial expressions and body language to get the message across.
  2. Using one to three panels for each instance, depict “sad” five different ways. Use the gutter, codes and symbols, words, facial expressions and body language.  Consider: what has made the person said?  Can you depict the cause without the effect and still get the emotion across?  Do you need to have a person in your depiction to illustrate the concept?

Besides being fun as heck, these exercises are an excellent way to open a discussion about the form, and they also trip cognitive switches that key in on sequencing, context, interpretation and language.  I’ve done these exercises with students from kindergarten through graduate school and the array of examples never fails to produce a few that are unexpected, unique and actually expand a reader’s understanding of how to communicate.  If that isn’t educational potential, I don’t know what is.

Bio:
Jesse Karp is a school librarian at LREI, an independent school in New York City, and teaches the course Graphic Novel: Narrative and Sequential Art to MLS students at Pratt Institute.  He is the author of the YA novel Those That Wake and the upcoming Graphic Novels in Your School Library, published by ALA Editions.  Please visit him at beyondwhereyoustand.com

What I'm Reading: Warm Bodies

This blog post was initially posted at Becky Spratford's Blog RA For All: HorrorBecky Spratford is the author of the upcoming Readers' Advisory Guide to Horror (2nd Edition).

Recently I finished the post-apocalyptic zombie novel, Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion.  Wait right there.  I know what you are thinking, "another post-apocalyptic zombie novel."  But this one is different.

Warm Bodies is Marion's first novel, and it is remarkable for what it is not.  It is not a story of how people are surviving after zombies rise up and destroy life as we know it.  Rather it is the story of a zombie, R, who cannot remember his life before he was a zombie, but with the help of Julie, his human friend, he is beginning to heal.

That's right, I said heal.  The zombie virus appears to be mutating.  And R and Julie, and their human-zombie friendship is leading toward a new future for life on earth by book's end.

I don't want to give much more away about the plot, rather, I want to talk about the appeal-- the "why" you would want to read this novel.

The main appeal to this story are the two main characters and their evolving relationship:  R (the zombie) and Julie (the young adult human). The entire book is from R's point of view.  He is an evolving zombie.  He is healing from the virus that made him a man-eating monster.  Through his relationship with Julie, he is learning to become human again.  As the two grow closer, Jule shares her personal thoughts about how humanity is choosing to live now. I was enthralled by R, how he evolves, and how together with Julie they tried to "change the world."

Since this novel is character centered over action centered, the pace is not super fast, but it is also not slow either.  It would call it "steadily building."  The pace is appropriate to the thought-provoking nature of the story.  As readers, we need a breather from the tense scenes so that we can sit back and process what just happened.  This is a novel of ideas, big ideas, about human civilization and life.  We experience it all through R and Julie, but we readers need time to think about things for ourselves too.

This novel is also appealing because it is so unexpected.  Yes, there have been zombie novels from the zombie's perspective before, but never have I read one that looks at the possibility of the zombies healing and rejoining the world, albeit a totally new world from the one we actually live in.  It is not just the overall theme and plot that are unexpected though.  R and Julie are interesting and original characters.  For someone who reads a lot of zombie books, it was nice to read one that surprised me. 

I also want to comment on the setting, which I found extraordinary.  Interestingly, in Marion's imagination of a post-apocalyptic world, humans have turned their huge sports stadiums into new cities.  The scenes when R goes into the human settlement and describes what he sees were riveting.  It was a completely original way to look at how we would organize our lives after everything has collapsed.  Despite the overwhelming mass of fiction which has looked at this issue in the past, Marion managed to add something new to the pile.  I would suggest this book to readers just for these few chapters alone.

So it must now be asked, is Warm Bodies horror?  In the new book, I define horror as, "a story in which the author manipulates the readers' emotions by introducing situations in which unexplainable phenomena and unearthly creatures threaten the protagonists and provoke terror in the reader."

I think the answer to this question may depend on the reader.  The main goal of this novel is to explore the zombie apocalypse and posit a solution, a chance for the virus to be cured, and for civilization to go on again.  However, the unease is huge here.  Since we are in the head of a zombie (who does eat people during the book), we, the readers, are never fully at ease.  Even as our sympathy for R grows, we never fully trust him.  The book does not work if Marion does not play with our emotions and keep us unsteady, engrossed, and ultimately scared of what is coming next.

I would say that Warm Bodies is part of the "new" type of horror as begun by Joe Hill in Horns.  Click here to see where I discuss this issue in detail.  So be prepared to be frightened, but in an unexpected way.

Three Words That Describe This Book: thought-provoking, character-centered, unexpected

Where This Book Took Me (summer reading feature): post-apocalyptic America; into the brain of a zombie.

Readalikes:  The new book has a great chapter on zombie books.  If you haven't been able to tell by now, zombie books are my personal favorite horror stories.  So I have a ton of suggestions for sure bet zombie reads listed in there.  But specifically here, readers who liked the more thought-provoking style with a character centered (not action oriented) focus should try the following books featuring zombies:

The annotations for these suggestions will all appear in Chapter 7-- Zombies: Following the Walking Dead of the new book.

I did also see one Amazon reviewer liken R to Edward Scissorhands. I totally agree. So if you like that movie, try Warm Bodies.

Of course there is also an entire cottage industry in nonfiction zombie survival guides.  It all started with The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks.  

But click through and see what else customers bought and you will find nonfiction options like thisthis, and this.  

And don't forget the book you should suggest to R to read for himself (now that he is beginning to regain that skill): So Now You're a Zombie: A Handbook for the Newly Undead.

Misconceptions about Licensing Electronic Content and E-Rights

This article was originally posted at Lesley Ellen Harris' blog copyrightlaws.com.

With the relative newness of digital licensing and the growing opportunities for licensing electronic content (including on social networking sites), there are a number of misconceptions already developing. By discussing and clearing up these misconceptions, it will help clear the path to an easier negotiating road and to better licenses.

Misconception #1: Not all licenses are negotiable. Almost every licence is negotiable, but often you have to ask the other side if they are willing to negotiate so that you will have a licence that meets your needs. Always remember to only accept a licence and arrangement that works for you in your particular circumstances.

Misconception #2: Licenses must be in “heretherewithto” language. It is best for everyone to use plain English in your licenses and not technical or legal language. Say what you mean and put that in writing. If the language is unclear, ask the other side what things mean. Define terms in the licence that are unclear.

Misconception #3: I need a lawyer. Often content owners and users know more about digital licensing than lawyers. Do not be intimidated by not having continuous access to a lawyer. Do your homework and ask questions so you are comfortable with the arrangement into which you are entering.

Misconception #4: Renegotiating every year is mandatory. Nothing is mandatory! Negotiating is time-consuming and costly. At the same time, technology is changing rapidly and so is the way we all use digital content. Lengthy durations for licence agreements may not be appropriate, so consider an automatic renewal clause, provided that both parties are satisfied with how the licence is working out for them and provided each side has an opportunity to positively opt-in to the renewal.

Misconception #5: You can control your users. The licence agreement you sign is between you and either an owner or user of content. Your licence only contractually obligates you and that owner or user. As such, you cannot agree, or expect the other party, to police subsequent users of that content. However, you may wish to educate staff and researchers about legally using licensed content, and obligate any user licensing your content to do the same.

Misconception #6: You may restrict fair use or fair dealing. Parties to a licence may agree to limit fair use or fair dealing between the parties subject to the agreement. However, any other persons are not bound by that agreement. These persons may apply the relevant copyright law to their use, which means that fair use or fair dealing, would apply to that licensed content.

Misconception #7: Standard licenses are the answer. Each situation is unique. Although model or standard licenses may seem like the answer to avoid costly and time-draining negotiations, you must always look at your own particular situation and find an arrangement that is suitable to your needs.

Misconception #8: One side always loses in negotiations. In the ideal world, negotiations should be “win-win.” In other words, both parties should be satisfied with the end result. This, of course, is not always possible. By being prepared before entering into negotiations and by understanding your needs as well as the needs of the other party, you will be taking the right steps to finding an agreement satisfactory to both sides.

Resources on licensing:

The Copyright & New Media Law Newsletter regularly carries articles on licensing.

Licensing Digital Content, A Practical Guide for Librarians, 2nd ed.

A Canadian Museum’s Guide to Developing a Digital Licensing Agreement Strategy, 2nd ed published May 2011.

Self-study online courses on licensing offered by the American Library Association (ALA)

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