Shaping the Librarian’s Library: Collecting to Support LIS Education and Practice

Shaping the Librarian’s Library: Collecting to Support LIS Education and Practice

Susan E. Searing (University of Illinois, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1897-8.ch006
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Library and Information Science (LIS) is primarily a graduate program of study which prepares students for careers in librarianship and other information professions. However, faculty and students are not the only users of LIS collections in campus libraries; academic librarians also need LIS information to support their research and practice. Effective collection development for LIS is grounded in a well-thought-out policy statement and employs time-proven strategies including title-by-title ordering, approval plans, standing orders, and judicious acceptance of gifts. A well-rounded and responsive collection spans several publication formats and includes works from publishers that specialize in LIS content as well as non-commercial grey literature. The challenges that LIS selectors face include the proliferation of distance education programs, the interdisciplinarity of the field, the shifting landscape of electronic publishing, serial price increases, the drive for assessment, negative perceptions of the quality of the literature, and the need to promote collection use. Because there has been little written about LIS collection development practices, there are many opportunities for further research.
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Library and information science is “an interdisciplinary domain concerned with creation, management, and uses of information in all its forms” (Estabrook, 2010, p. 3287). LIS is organized as a separate discipline but draws on the theories, methods, and literatures of many other disciplines. Related fields include computer science, management studies, education, history, sociology, media studies, and literary studies. A recent study of LIS doctoral dissertations from 1939 to 2009 reveals how LIS scholarship has moved away from its initial concentration on problems in librarianship (Sugimoto, Li, Russell, Finlay, & Ding, 2011). LIS programs typically prepare students to work in information service agencies such as libraries and archives; however, graduates from these programs also find jobs in information software industries and in a wide spectrum of commercial and nonprofit organizations. Although building a collection to address the breadth of this field is not an easy task, the practice is grounded in a long tradition.

Even before he founded the first library school (the Columbia School of Library Economy) in 1887, Melvil Dewey began collecting materials for a special library to support its curriculum (Kindlin & Engle, 1975). Prior to the emergence of specialized journals and books for the fledgling profession, annual reports and other publications issued by libraries were highly prized as information sources (Lear, 2006). The first library science libraries also housed general resources, such as reference books, that students were expected to examine and evaluate for their coursework. Well into the twentieth century, some writers argued that LIS libraries ought to serve as laboratories where students could gain practical experience working with materials typically found in general libraries (Fingerson, 1973; Kiewitt, 1978), but the counter-argument that laboratory collections are “artificial” and do “not reflect the larger world of information availability” eventually prevailed (Prentice, 1987, p. 11).

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