Paul Rudd Information Professional

expertise gained through experience

The Second NAG Collection Development Seminar for Academic Libraries

The Second NAG Collection Development Seminar for Academic Libraries

Reasons for attending the seminar

I attended the seminar to find out more about the following:

  • The issues faced with collection management at academic libraries in the current climate of change
  • Patron driven acquisition (PDA)
  • eBooks and electronic journals in relation to collection management

The seminar included the following speakers:

  • Jill Taylor-Roe (Deputy Librarian, University of Newcastle)
  • Libby Homer (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)
  • Steve Sharp (Resource Acquisition Team Leader, University of Leeds)
  • Regina Ferguson (University of Salford) (another presenter stood in for Regina on the day of the seminar using Regina’s presentation slides and notes)
  • Hazel Woodward (University Librarian, Cranfield University)
  • Heather Sherman (Head of Technical Service, Dawson Books)

A selection of the presentations in more detail

The art of Juggling: developing library collections in times of austerity Jill Taylor-Roe (Deputy Librarian, University of Newcastle)

Jill Taylor-Roe began by briefly tracing the changes in collection development and highlighting many aspects that had changed over the years. The characteristics of what she classed as ‘old-style’ collection development (pre-digital age) were highlighted as the following characteristics in connection with the model of acquisition and its problems:

  • Collection building (books and journal) was mostly led by academic staff
  • The purchase of microforms/microfilms were a feature of collection development at that time as well as special collections


  • Acquisition of books was largely on a ‘just in case’ basis
  • Journal titles acquired at title level depending on budget and interest
  • New professors had a dowry, which they used to purchase books and journals to support their research

Problems related to this style of collection development

  • Growth in collections created a lack of space, therefore disposal or relegation exercises had to be carried out
  • The processes involved in this ‘old style’ collection development were extremely time-consuming and there was also a slow rate of change

Jill then focused on aspects of the digital era highlighting breaking it down into phases and a selection of these key differences in relation to the first phase of change is highlighted below:

First phase

  • Access over ownership became a key change
  • Decline in title level acquisition as a result of publishers offering access to bundles of subscription journals
  • Book purchases still mostly academic led
  • Rapid growth in subject specific databases

Second phase

  • The rise of the national student satisfaction survey, which has led to students essentially having a voice and having increased user expectations. leading to an increase in demand for books and other services
  • Due to problems with the economic climate and budget cuts this has led to increased difficulty in meeting user expectations

Other important issues pointed out by Jill were as follows:

  • The speed at which new interests are emerging (together with old ones declining)
  • The inflexibility of big deals connected with electronic resources
  • The problems with providing equal support and access to resources for students that are based at international campuses, that are either branches of the university or that the university has partnership agreements in place with.

Faced with the changes and challenges of the current climate Jill then focused on how to continue to develop collections and these are a few of the points highlighted by Jill:

  • Patron driven acquisition seems to work and Newcastle University are aiming 33% of their book fund to be used on PDA
  • ebooks acknowledged by Jill as ‘ideal’ where large numbers of students need short term access to texts
  • The price of journals is high – Newcastle University have a wish list of items that they would like to have access to but currently do not have the funds available
  • When databases come up to subscription renewal staff are looking for cheaper alternatives

We saw the future, and it was electronic Steve Sharp (Resource Acquisition Team Leader, University of Leeds)

Steve’s presentation highlighted the important changes that have taken place in terms of the increasing popularity of the digital format and the many devices and services available to acquire and access content on. Steve also highlighted issues related to print collections and pointed out some interesting facts about digital content.

Aspects noted by Steve on the modern information environment are as follows:

  • The large scale move to electronic journals
  • Increased user expectations
  • The rise in popularity and availability of devices such a Amazon’s Kindle, smartphones, tablets. (Including the recent ability to be able to easily purchase ereaders at well known high street stores.)

Steve displayed the rate of change using figures from the University of Leeds. This showed that the number had increased over the period 2007 – 2011 by approximately 148,000, with print collections over the same period almost staying the same. Furthermore, he also showed that the number of ebook accesses during the same period had increased by approximately 470,000.

However, in a world where it is often thought that everything is available in a digital format Steve pointed out that only a small percentage of books that have been printed in the world are available in digital format. Furthermore, he also noted that the estimated cost of digitising the collections of Europe’s museums, archives and libraries would be 100 billion euros. (The figure was obtained from: ‘The Cost of digitising Europe’s Cultural Heritage: A Report for the Comtè des Sage of the European commission’ prepared by Nick Poole). Steve also pointed out that many niche journals were still only available in the printed form and many older monographs have still not been digitised.

Problems with print collections were highlighted by Steve, such as the problem with content on acid paper and print collections being held in inappropriate storage conditions. According to a survey performed by Leeds University around 55% of the open access collections are printed on acid paper, with 10% being identified as being at immediate risk.


Written by Paul Rudd Information Specialist at the Fire Service College in Moreton-in-Marsh (Capita)