SPEC Kit 324: Collecting Global Resources  · 17
collections—which in some instances are still mostly
in print and in others have at best a combination of
electronic and print formats—occupy an interesting
position. Looked at from the perspective of global
resources librarians, some core activities relating to
their collections have not changed: the nature of their
resources makes intense outreach, reference, and col-
laborative collection development essential.
The survey responses, however, indicate that
global resources would benefit from more visibility
than in the past. For example, because of the idiosyn-
cratic nature of access to global resources, librarians
in those areas have traditionally been extremely active
in reaching out to their constituents through in-depth
reference, bibliographic instruction, and liaison activi-
ties with academic units. However, in an environment
where libraries note a decrease in gate counts and an
increase in scholars accessing information electroni-
cally, outreach (i.e., bringing collections and reference
services to the user) takes on a new significance. The
survey shows that many libraries either already have
or are in the process of creating organizational struc-
tures that facilitate such outreach, thereby raising
the level of visibility and support for activities global
studies librarians have engaged in for a long time.
A similar trend is seen when it comes to collabora-
tion. Since the days of the first union catalogs, libraries
have worked together to share and exchange infor-
mation. Global studies librarians, in particular, have
always functioned in a collaborative environment. In
fact, much of their work would not have been possible
without partnerships, especially in the area of collec-
tion development and reference. Recently, however,
collaboration at the national level has been taken to
a higher level. The development of shared print re-
positories and partnerships such as HathiTrust are
just two examples. While global collections librarians
participate in and benefit from the initiatives on the
national stage, these initiatives take on different, inter-
national forms as well. Collaboration, in fact, emerges
as an overarching theme from the survey. And the
electronic sharing of materials, either through joint ef-
forts to populate institutional repositories or through
collaborative digitization projects, will likely increase.
Furthermore, the survey responses indicate that
other forms of collaboration, such as sharing the
positions of global resources librarians by several
institutions, are currently in progress at several librar-
ies. It is still too early to assess the effectiveness and
the impact on the profession of these latter initiatives.
It seems safe to predict, however, that collaboration
and partnerships of global resources librarians within
the framework of other collaborative efforts at their
libraries (e.g., through consortial agreements), and
through partnerships with colleagues and libraries at
the international level, will only increase in the future.
Looking at the survey responses, the future of
global studies collections can be contemplated with
cautious optimism: support for global studies collec-
tions remains strong and, propelled by other develop-
ments in research libraries more generally, the work
of global resources librarians receives more support
and visibility. At the same time, global resources col-
lections face challenges that add a layer of unpredict-
ability to their future. For example, though aligning
and centralizing global resources collections within
libraries may strengthen them, this development is
not without risks. Balancing the identity and special-
ized workflow needs of individual collections with
a library’s need for efficiency and cost-effectiveness
will always be a precarious undertaking, particu-
larly when implementing reorganizations. This is a
dynamic process that involves relationships among
libraries at the national level, among individual col-
lections, and with library administrations. Such rela-
tionships will likely remain in a process of constant
negotiation.
Budget cuts and reductions in alternative funding
pose additional problems. Libraries have to balance
their support of global resources with the needs in
other areas, and it is too early to assess the impact
of recent significant cuts to the US Department of
Education’s Title VI program on global resources
collections.9 Furthermore, at a time of increasing fi-
nancial constraints, it is critically important for the
research library community to think about how it
can continue to support standard collection develop-
ment practices, such as acquisitions trips, title-by-title
selection, and management of gift-in-kind programs.
Together, the issues outlined here represent a
complex framework and context for collecting global
resources, which will shape our collections for the
Previous Page Next Page