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Stop reporting reference counts

ASERL statistics, part 2
The average number of reference transactions among ASERL libraries declined almost 60% between 2000 and 2012. This decline in absolute transaction counts is startling enough, but when we divide transaction totals by student enrollment, the average per student is down 70%, clearly an emphatic change in both student and library behavior. A casual observer would naturally conclude that our reference function is obsolete.

Director's Cut

In November 2012, I was interviewed for the Charleston Conference video series. Herewith my talking head, in vast quantities:

IT and the closed stack scenario

Build-it part 4:
I’ve written about the decline of stack serendipity, a milepost in my descent to my current position, that print collections might better be closed, housed for fast retrieval and excellent long-term preservation.

What not to build

Build-it part 2:
I have no interest in replicating the ample literature devoted to “build or buy” software decisions. To be honest, I’ve got nothing to contribute until the discussion turns to research library applications. 

What should a research library build next?

Build-it part 1:
I know that there are research libraries that don’t consider the invention of new IT tools part of their core mission, but I don’t pretend to understand why. The web of interconnecting technologies supporting library services and collections is a permanent problem in need of constant attention. To say nothing about IT-based opportunities for entrepreneurship, collaboration and innovation.

Open Access at UNC Charlotte

The Library has been discussing Open Access (OA) with the Faculty Advisory Library Committee (FALC), with a mind to raising awareness of the chronic and financially unsustainable crisis in academic journals.

Throwing away collections: Books

Let me say emphatically: Atkins Library has no intention of discarding print monographs. That said, it’s important to recognize that many prestigious research libraries are well along in a process that does just that.

Throwing away collections: Journals

Nothing could come less naturally to research librarians than discarding collections. That’s why we’re recognizing this month the one year anniversary of Atkins Library’s journal discard project. We feared faculty revolt, we doubted our own resolve to actually pull volumes from shelves. They didn’t, we did, and progress happens.

Taylor and Francis, poster child for value-based cancellation

Last year, use data from this database led Atkins Library to cancel about $100K worth of high cost/low use journals published by Taylor and Francis. A memo detailing this project is available here.

The decline of stack serendipity

A recent conversation with a faculty member placed me in the awkward position of responding to a deeply-felt argument in support of stack serendipity. Disagreeing feels like heresy, if only for the immense investment in space and staff that research libraries have put into the physical collocation of scholarship.
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