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portal: Libraries and the Academy 2.3 (2002) 485-487



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Book Review

Building Sustainable Collections of Free Third-Party Web Resources

Selection and Presentation of Commercially Available Electronic Resources: Issues and Practices

Strategies for Building Digitized Collections


Building Sustainable Collections of Free Third-Party Web Resources, Louis A. Pitschmann. (CLIR Reports, no. 98) Washington, DC: Digital Library Federation and Council on Library and Information Resources, 2001. 44 p. $20 (ISBN 1-887334-83-1)
Selection and Presentation of Commercially Available Electronic Resources: Issues and Practices, Timothy D. Jewell. (CLIR Reports, no. 99) Washington, DC: Digital Library Federation and Council on Library and Information Resources, 2001. 55 p. $20 (ISBN 1-887334-84-X)
Strategies for Building Digitized Collections, Abby Smith. (CLIR Reports, no. 101) Washington, DC: Digital Library Federation and Council on Library and Information Resources, 2001. 41 p. $20 (ISBN 1-887334-87-4) CLIR documents (PDF and HTML) available at <http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/reports.html>

These three offerings from the Digital Library Federation (DLF) are testimony to the energy and sense of purpose that Dan Greenstein has brought to the young organization. Each booklet surveys collection development policies and practices currently in place for different niches of the digital library. Taken together, they provide an informed and intelligent overview of where we are today in the business of developing and managing electronic collections. For individual libraries as well as for the DLF and other consortia, these studies yield that conspectus of data and issues necessary for the generation of policies and practices. And for librarians who do not attend DLF meetings, they are proof of its existence, and that is a good thing indeed.

"Where we are today," I wrote. But the "we" needs some qualification. At its broadest, the universe encompassed by these reports is that of the thirty or so members of the DLF plus a handful of European and Australian institutions. Its core, however, is comprised of "the usual suspects:" Michigan, Cornell, Virginia, Harvard, et alia. Harvesting the lessons learned by these major players is an important contribution the three surveys make to the profession. But there is still room for wondering how applicable many of the practices of large research libraries are to smaller research and college libraries.

These reports span three mini-generations of experience with electronic resources. [End Page 485] At one end is Timothy Jewell's admirable review of collection development practices that have grown up around commercial databases and electronic journals. At the other end is Louis Pitschmann's brave plunge into the murky waters of facilitating access to other websites. In between, is Abby Smith's smart look at how and why libraries have been busy creating electronic resources based on their own collections. Jewell's report has the experiences of over a decade behind it; Smith's of five or so years; and Pitschmann's of an effort only just begun.

It will come as no surprise, then, to learn that collection development and management practices are most mature, systematic, and defined for vendor-supplied resources. Thus, Jewell's survey is data rich in ways that the other two cannot be. Libraries have indeed learned a great deal about the broad implications of signing licensing agreements with vendors, and Jewell does an excellent job describing them: from selection and evaluation through web presentation to preservation and archiving. Most libraries have been able to integrate collection development and management practices for these resources comfortably into traditional policies, practices, and organizational arrangements. According to Jewell, print-driven policies have shaped and determined the ways in which libraries have responded to the availability of commercial resources. Two marvelously detailed appendices provide excellent snapshots of institutional practices that allow readers to evaluate where they are in comparison with others.

By contrast, Smith and Pitschmann do not have the luxury of significant experience and a body of theory behind them. Instead, they document scenarios that have much in common...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-7131
Print ISSN
1531-2542
Pages
pp. 485-487
Launched on MUSE
2002-07-01
Open Access
No
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