Automation and Collection Management: A Short History and Recent Trends

Automation and Collection Management: A Short History and Recent Trends

Annette Bailey (Virginia Tech, USA), Edward Lener (Virginia Tech, USA), Leslie O’Brien (Virginia Tech, USA) and Connie Stovall (Virginia Tech, USA)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3938-6.ch003
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The history of library automation can be traced to early printing methods of the 7th century A.D. The earliest collectors of books were usually religious scholars who amassed the religious texts of the day. Monks from East and West travelled great distances and often at great peril to gather meticulously hand-copied texts. Early inventions of woodblocks, and, later the printing press, enabled the mass-production of books that resulted in libraries’ expansion into the secular world. Librarians have continued to bring technological advances into their work, combining web services, programming scripts, and commercial databases and software in innovative ways. The processes of selection, deselection, and assessment have been enhanced through these new products and services. The authors discuss a variety of technological applications for collection activities that have allowed collection managers to work more efficiently and better understand the use of their print and electronic collections. The effects of automation on the people involved in collection management are also explored.
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When it comes to library collections, practitioners refer to associated professional duties and methodologies as collection management or collection development. Hazen (1991) takes up the difference between collection management and collection development, stating that the newer, preferred term of collection management “subsumes collection development…but it also encompasses preservation” (p. 291). Collection development, on the other hand, consists of policy formation, selection, and acquisition. Roughly a decade later in a classic library and information science textbook, Evans (2000) prefers the term collection development and postulates its six components, all of which operate in a “constant cycle”: selection policies, selection, acquisition, deselection, evaluation, and community analysis (p. 16). More recently, Gregory (2011) says that collection development represents a “subpart of collection management that has primarily to do with decisions that will ultimately result in the acquisitions of materials” (p. xiv). Conversely, the umbrella term collection management focuses on “information gathering, communication, coordination, policy formation, evaluation, and planning that results in decisions about acquisitions, retention, and provision of access to information sources” (p. xiv).

All three authors referred to earlier explicitly mention how technology drives change, both within libraries and within the practice of collection management (Gregory, 2011; Evans, 2000; Hazen, 2011). In the Springer Handbook of Automation, Kaplan concludes that libraries are “witnessing the opening wedge in the dissolution of the ILS into a series of independent modules that communicate with each other by means of Web 2.0 services,” and that the “future will be one of distinct functional modules that communicate with one another by exploiting the concept of unified resource management” (p. 1296). While a great deal of the literature focuses on the impact of automation on collection management since the 1960s until the present day, Broadus (1991) points out that “the spread of printing” was the catalyst behind collection developments’ shift toward “selectivity” after centuries when the “major challenge to those in charge of libraries was to find things to collect” (p.5).

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