Keeping Up with Library Acquisitions Literature
Last month I was part of a panel discussion in a session of a collection development class in our university's School of Information and Library Science. As a follow-up to that session, the instructor asked us via email how we keep up with developments in our field. I took this not only as an information question, but it also felt like a challenge: Am I keeping up with developments in my field?
When I was in library school I did far more “professional reading” than it seems I do now. We students were assigned selected readings that informed our perspectives and class discussions on specific topics, ranging all over library literature. I joined email discussion lists and participated in discussions, especially in the realm of intellectual freedom. Additionally, our research assignments drove me to journal databases and exposed me to journal titles I had never encountered before. I was not afraid to look outside of library literature and apply what I found to my research topics. In my independent study on “Special Libraries,” I read widely about innovation, adoption (and adaptation) of technology, the roles of information centers in their parent organizations and open source software.
Academic librarians remain steeped in a culture of research after graduate school, so continuing with professional reading is a natural extension of our education into our work. However, in my own work the most useful way to keep abreast of developments in library acquisitions has been far more than reading peer-reviewed, research articles. Chief among these is regular attendance at the Charleston Conference in Book & Serial Acquisition. Bundled in the registration fee to that meeting is a year's subscription to Against the Grain, which is chock full of articles directly relevant to developments in library acquisitions. Whenever I get the newest issue of Against the Grain, I read the “Legal Issues” section first. Bruce Strauch's “Cases of Note” and Laura Gasaway's “Questions & Answers—Copyright Column” address topics related to copyright and fair use.
Sometimes I read articles form Library Resources & Technical Services, which adhere to a pretty high level of research quality. Scholarly communication is an important field of writing for an acquisitions librarian; to that end I enjoy Kevin Smith's Scholarly Communications @ Duke blog and sometimes find time for The Scholarly Kitchen. I receive the email newsletters AL Direct and Library Journal's Academic Newswire, from which I pick and choose which articles are of interest to me.
The rest of the articles I read on a weekly basis are direct referrals from colleagues, related to what we're trying to accomplish at our library. Lately, patron driven acquisitions and ALA “big heads” reports dominate such referrals.
Back to the question of whether I'm keeping up, when I read Jeanne Harrell's article in LRTS, “Literature of Acquisitions in Review, 2008-9,” there wasn't anything that jumped out at me as cutting-edge, new information, so at least I'm current into the 2000s! But, I wouldn't be able to advise a new acquisitions librarian about the quality and relevance of publications other than the aforementioned, because I don't make time to read journals that are less directly relevant to my work.
What are some library acquisitions scholarly resources you have found useful? Do you disagree with any of my above assessments? Please let me know in the comments.