Meeting, May 28, 2011 4:00 – 5:00pm
In Attendance: Fernando Acosta Rodríguez (Princeton), Adán Benavides (UT Austin), Sarah Buck Kachaluba (FSU), Hortensia Calvo (Tulane U), Donna Canevari de Paredes (U Saskatchewan), Teresa Chapa (UNC-Chapel Hill), Paula Covington (Vanderbilt U), Melissa Guy (Arizona State U), Gerarda Holder (NALIS), Peter Johnson (Emeritus, Princeton U), Jana Krentz (U Kansas), Eudorah Loh (UCLA), Mei Mendez (U Miami), Ricarda Musser (Ibero-American Institute, Berlin), Eudoxio Paredes-Ruiz (U Saskatchewan), Laura Shedenhelm (U Georgia), James Simon (CRL) Rafael Tarragó (U Minnesota), Gayle Williams (FIU), John Wright (BYU).
Sarah Buck Kachaluba opened the meeting with a summary of what she hoped to accomplish. She explained that as a relatively new SALALMista and member of the Committee, she thought it would be useful to have a panel and discussion exploring the collection survey process that this committee coordinates. This would be aimed at relatively new professionals (sort of a how-to) but could also engender a discussion about broader theoretical and methodological issues. She asked two more seasoned Latin Americanist librarians (Laura Shedenhelm and Teresa Chapa) who have extensive experience doing the assessment/survey as well as really interesting feedback about this process to talk about their:
- collection assessment methodology (how they’ve done it, problems they’ve run into, how it’s changed with the conversion from the card catalog to the OPAC/ILS)
- what the uses of such assessment statistics/data are (for Title VI applications, for example)
- how the utility of such data is changing with the rise of digital technologies and new formats of materials
Sarah reviewed the different categories of the survey and summarized her own attempt to do a comprehensive survey during Fiscal Year 2008.
She explained that she views the “collection survey” as two projects:
1. calculating the total amount of new acquisitions for Latin America over the previous fiscal year (how much has been purchased – both monetarily and in terms of volumes/information units)
2. estimating the institution’s total Latin American Collection size.
The first project is not significantly difficult as she is the Latin American Studies bibliographer and can add up her allocations and/or firm orders to determine how much has been purchased.
The second project is much harder for her. When she attempted a collection assessment during Fiscal Year 2008, she ran title counts for different call number ranges for Florida State, University of Florida, and Florida International (for example F 1201-3799 – Latin America/Spanish America and PQ 7081-8560 – Spanish Literature in Spanish America – Books). She then compared FSU’s numbers in each range with those of FIU and UF and determined what percentage of FIU and UF’s numbers FSU held. She averaged these percentages and then took that percentage of FIU and UF’s entire collection (since estimates for FIU and UF’s entire collection exist).
Some of the limitations of this methodology are:
- The fact that a title count does not equal a volume count
- The fact that there are many different classification/call number systems: LC, Dewey, and government document, plus separate collections that may not be included in a general library search.
- The fact that call number ranges reflect classification systems which are more comprehensive for certain areas than others
- The fact that FIU’s total estimate seems a bit low, considering that FIU reports that their LA collection is 67,000, yet their specific call number runs average 41% of UF’s (450,000), which would be 184,500.
This count was supplemented by additional shelf reading and catalog searching by subject to capture statistics for film/media, maps, and microform and by assistance from the Serials Acquisitions librarian to count Latin American subscriptions.
Sarah also laid out the different formats indicated by the survey and suggested that these might be updated at some point. These include:
- Print serial and monograph volumes
- Computer tapes/diskettes
- CD Roms
- Electronic news sources
- Manuscripts and archives (measured in linear feet)
- Cartographic materials
- Graphic materials
- Audio materials
- Film and video materials
Teresa Chapa followed. She explained that her collection assistant is the one who calculates the annual survey for her, but that she has been unclear on how to answer letter “F,” of the items “A-G” on question number “2” on the long form:
“Please break down Latin American expenditures in the following categories, if possible:
a. Monographs (firm orders) __________Amount in 2009/2010 not supplied on blanket orders and approval plans in c, d, e, and f below
b. Serials (Periodical Subscriptions and Standing Orders) __________Amount in 2009/2010
c. Blanket orders and approval plans from Latin America __________Amount in 2009/2010
d. Blanket orders and approval plans from the U.S. __________Amount in 2009/2010
e. Blanket orders and approval plans from other than the U.S. or Latin America __________Amount in 2009/2010
f. Materials paid from funds not specifically targeted for Latin American materials __________Amount in 2009/2010
g. Travel expenses for field acquisitions __________Amount in 2009/2010”
The question, Teresa explained, is how to come up with a figure for letter “F,” especially if one is using a mixture of Latin American and Iberian funds?
Teresa asked whether it would be helpful to alternatively report allocations and firm orders by describing the funds as we do in our institutions? For example, should we report the total amount of acquisitions purchased with title VI funds?
Teresa also explained that she doesn’t count packages or bundles, because to separate out the Latin American portion would be very difficult. She asked how others handled this issue.
She also asked about serials not specific to Latin America (for example, subject specific periodicals dealing with all regions). The consensus was that these are not counted.
Dora Loh responded that the survey attempted to gather the best count possible, with the goal of leveraging what we can to our administrators to get funds.
Teresa Chapa indicated that she understood this and agreed but thought it would be good to try to develop the same standards to the best extent possible.
Melissa Guy shared that Arizona State has totally revamped its acquisitions process and no longer has fund codes. She asked what are the call number ranges that Teresa and I had referred to for Latin America.
At this point, Teresa Chapa and Sarah Buck Kachaluba pointed to Laura Shedenhelm, whose MLS thesis was creating a conspectus of call number ranges for Latin America.
Paula Covington shared that she has wrestled with the survey four times over the years. She explained that the figures she has gotten vary considerably and are crazy. Doing a physical estimate is impossible. Yet the national resource center wants exact numbers every year.
Adán Benavides explained that every library at the University of Texas likely collects Latin American materials but the count provided by UT-Austin reflects only the Benson LAC. While the survey figures may be inexact and inconsistent across institutions, a consistent response from a single library may indicate its long-term trends. Regardless, he analyzed the five largest collections to answer the SALALM survey for about a decade. Interesting results in comparison to UT-Austin allowed a basis to justify its continued funding at a high level.
Several LASERistas pointed to Miguel Valladares’s method of running reports in WorldCat without using WorldCat Collection Analysis. This method uses location codes in the subject and publisher fields as an alternative. James Simon is also familiar with this methodology.
Teresa Chapa observed that the survey works for us as a tool for comparison, even though it is wonky. The problem is that it is very time-consuming.
Gayle Williams explained that she, Scott Van Jacob, and Dan Hazen had minimally revamped the survey a few years ago, and that was why diskettes, for example, were still up there as a format.
In her presentation, Laura Shedenhelm explained that Georgia has not done the form since she arrived because she does not have time. When she came to Georgia, the Latin American position went from Full-time to Half-time. In Portuguese and Spanish language, the focus is on literature and social science, and since most of the material comes in through the English/American approval plan, there is no way to count it. Furthermore, acquisitions in art, for example, are not necessarily known, so end up not always being counted; going to every bibliographer is not feasible.
What Laura Shedenhelm did when she put together applications for Title VI funds was to estimate the size of the Fs and the PQs. In the past, In the past, she would have gone to the card catalog and estimated that one inch of cards equaled an appropriate number of volumes. What she has recently done is constructed a list of all Latin American countries and regions and ran those through the catalog in subject heading searches. The head of Collection Development then spent twenty-five hours de-duping and picking out strings of subject headings and turned these into volume counts. But for some reason the numbers given to the Latin American center were halved when they went into the Title VI application. The process was massively time-consuming, even with automation. She was also told not to include special collections or audio-visual materials. They only wanted print.
Dora Loh suggested using OCLC to get some information.
Peter Johnson asked what the quality of the information being collected is.
Paula Vanderbilt added that in the LASER WorldCat study one can look at the overlap/uniqueness as one indication of quality. Presumably something unique to a library would be of high quality (or value).
Sarah Buck Kachaluba wanted clarification on the question about the “quality” of information – did information refer to the “quality” of the collection survey data being collected? If so, how does the quality of the data relate to the purpose of gathering the data? Presumably the quality should be adequate to meet the purpose. Or did Peter mean the “quality” of the information materials (books, etc) being acquired, which were counted in the collection survey data?
Peter Johnson stated that he thought the source of the materials was an important indicator of quality. He wanted to know what percentage of the materials came through a blanket order, what percentage came from field research (buying trips), what percentage came from specialized dealers, and what percentage came from faculty requests.
Adán Benavides explained that new categories of information had recently been added to begin developing a qualitative element in the survey.
Gayle Williams added that these qualitative issues are what we are trying to address in LARPP regional distribution assignments.
Rafael Tarragó explained that a search by call numbers in the LC system can provide a rough estimate of what areas given collections are strongest in.
Laura Shedenhelm says it depends also on who (ie which cataloger) put in the call numbers. For example, if the cataloger left an extra space in the call number tag, a book won’t be counted.
Adán Benavides brought up the importance of using such statistics to get an idea of how we have been collecting over time – over ten years, for example. He suggested that we might want to think about putting together a book-length work – for example, looking at 20 libraries – how have they done collection development and collected for Latin America?
James Simon followed up by saying that Asian Studies librarians just did this in the book Collecting Asia.
Fernando Acosta Rodríguez said he liked that idea – we could look at what we are doing now in terms of archival collections.
Sarah Buck Kachaluba asked to what degree the book would look at the history of collecting and strategies for collection development and to what degree it would review the collection statistics we’ve gathered.
Melissa Guy said she thought the narrative of collecting would be more interesting.
James Simon said that the East Asian librarians were very committed to their statistics. Vicky Dahli from Kansas compiles the numbers and statistics.
Jana Krentz said that Vicky presented at a Mollas meeting.
Dora Loh observed that East Asian collections are distinctive in certain ways and can be separated more easily than Latin American collections.
Jana Krentz said that one can also limit collection analysis to East Asian languages.
Adán Benavides suggested that we could limit Latin American collection development analysis to the past year.
Dora Loh said that our collection surveys also indicate a low reflection of collection size in OCLC, suggesting that there is a huge catalog backlog.
We concluded the meeting by deciding that we needed to revise and simplify the survey somewhat and pursue a book project. Sarah Buck Kachaluba noted the names of people interested in contributing to these two projects:
Committee For Survey:
Sarah Buck Kachaluba
Committee for Book:
Fernando Acosta Rodríguez
Sarah Buck Kachaluba
Florida State University