art, artifact, digital collection, or new media. This unified broadly accessible
information is also essential to library colleagues who should be knowledgeable
in promoting primary resources in their liaison roles along with the latest new
database licensed. And I will add here that, surprisingly, it is not just our
archivists and special collections librarians who have trouble stepping across
existing dividing lines. For that reason, new organizational structures may prove
essential in bring humanities librarians and archivists together to pursue
common outcomes. With the growing need to evolve policies and functional
support for acquiring, managing, and supporting the use of society’s born-
digital record, differing aggregations of technology and archival staffing will
be necessary. This will position archives and special collections in a role as an
integral leader in shaping the evolving 21st-century collection—but it will be
as a component activity contributing to broad institutional goals.
Reframing Our Thinking in a Holistic Way
Now we turn to the challenge of reframing our thinking in shaping the
collection of the 21st century in an unbounded information universe, in which
the applicability of the paradigm I have described is limited. Patron-driven
selection and innumerable other changes are rewriting the means and, as Rick
Anderson describes, the comprehensive and well-crafted collection is no longer
an end in itself. We now must create a new, broadly inclusive framework that
incorporates a dynamic environment of multiple interdependencies and
expanding potential for collective action.
How do we establish a new prism through which to evaluate the choices
available to us today? An important step is to substantially alter the existing
concept of the collections budget. This suggestion is not an explicit
recommendation that any institution spend such funds differently, and doing this
is not a solution in and of itself. Re-conceptualizing how we manage this funding
is a means to remove one of the barriers to evolving a new way of looking at the
collection that exists and that our users use, as opposed to viewing it only as the
items we purchase via this budget. In an age of HathiTrust, Google Books, the
Internet Archive, the Digital Public Library of America, Open Access and Open
Data, digital special collections, Wikipedia, and other wonders of the open Net,
the collections budget can establish an artificial context, compelling us to view
success in a manner that may fail to realistically incorporate the way in which
our users pursue information and the sources they employ.
RLI 277
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Rebalancing the Investment in Collections
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C O N T I N U E D
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DECEMBER 2011 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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