First published in 1971, this manual is intended to provide assistance to faculty participating in the development of the University of Texas Libraries collections.
It provides a general view of library acquisitions philosophy and activities, and provides instructions for ordering library materials.
Collection development in research libraries involves selection of information resources in all formats, management of library acquisitions funds, and evaluation and management of existing information resources. In the University of Texas Libraries these activities are coordinated by the Research Services Division.
Subject specialists are subject experts who are responsible for collection development in one or more areas. Most reference and branch librarians are also subject specialists, though subject specialists may be found in all areas of the library. Subject specialists with highly specialized language skills will oftentimes also catalog materials in those languages.
Subject specialists manage library funds for the purchase of information resources. They initiate purchases for books, journals, databases, and other materials in their areas of subject expertise. They work closely with faculty in the departments which their subjects cover, keeping them informed of acquisitions and collection concerns. They confer with faculty and students about information needs, library resources, and serials cancellations, and provide training in library usage and information technologies. Questions about databases, book orders, serial cancellations, possible new serials orders, transfers of items from one location to another, approval plans, in-depth specialized reference questions, and collection development policy should be referred to them. The Subject Specialist Directory contains a list of library subject specialists and contact information.
Faculty Role in Library Acquisitions
Although library subject specialists are the principal selectors, all faculty, as well as staff and students, are encouraged to initiate requests for library materials.
Purchase requests may be initiated by completing the purchase request form or by contacting the appropriate subject specialist.
Most academic departments designate a faculty liaison or library committee who discuss library matters of departmental interest with the subject specialist. The library recommends that the departmental faculty liaisons have a good overview of departmental aims and emphases as well as a strong knowledge of the library collection in the subject field. Some library purchases, especially those involving substantial sums of money or those that have wide impact on campus such as multi-disciplinary databases, are made by committees of librarians. Active faculty liaisons, working with the library subject specialist, insure that the department's interest will be represented in such forums.
Formulated jointly by faculty, subject specialists, and other librarians over the last twenty years, these policies are under constant revision and provide specific guidelines for library acquisitions.
The acquisition of current, in-print materials is emphasized in the Collection Development Policy as the most effective means for the continued improvement of the University of Texas Libraries book collections.
In approval plans, commercial vendors supply books that meet the library's specific subject parameters immediately after their publication. The plans are a quick, simple, and economical method for acquiring a core of current trade and scholarly materials in selected subject areas. Present approval plans automatically provide current publications from the United States, Canada, Australia, and most countries of Europe and Latin America.
Normally approval plans call for the exclusion of some subjects (such as practical theology or veterinary medicine) and some forms of publication (such as reprint editions, spiral bound books, and numbered monographs in series). Additionally, foreign language plans are generally more limited than those in English. Approval plan books not considered appropriate for the collection are returned after being screened by subject specialists and Acquisitions Department personnel.
Because of curriculum changes, budgetary considerations, and other factors, approval plans are subject to periodic modification. For current details on these plans, contact your subject specialist.
Serials (Journals and Databases)
Over the last couple of decades, the consolidation of journal publishers, higher than CPI subscription increases, and static collection budgets has forced the Libraries to reduce serials subscriptions a number of times. Subject specialists maintain a close watch on the cost and usage of the serials they manage to ensure our collection meets both current and anticipated research needs. It is essential that faculty and subject specialists collaborate on prioritizing subscriptions to minimize impact when cancellations are necessary. For every new journal or serial added, a serial of similar price must be canceled. Despite this practice, the University of Texas Libraries still finds that it devotes a higher percentage of its budget to serials than most other research libraries in the United States and Canada. To institute a new serial subscription, contact your subject specialist. The subject specialist will discuss with the academic departments concerned which other serials might be canceled in order to fund the new subscription.
The library recognizes that new serials are being published at a record-setting pace, and that these new serials may be of greater value than the serials we presently subscribe to. For these reasons, the University of Texas Libraries, like research libraries everywhere, continually reviews its subscriptions and the money available for new purchases.
Scholarly Communication Issues
For background on the scholarly communication issues in academic research libraries, see Scholarly Communication.