12 · Survey Results: Executive Summary
special interest or represent an affinity group sixteen
(44%) are part of a social group fifteen (42%) are joined
by a common ethnic group or geographic location
eight (22%) are part of a professional organization
seven (19%) are part of a political organization five
(14%) are part of a religious organization and eleven
(31%) share some other characteristic. The comments
of those that marked the box for “Other characteris-
tic” indicate that several could also be classified as a
special interest or affinity group. The majority of com-
munities represented by these collections (23 or 64%)
are local in whole or in part to the collecting library.
Community-based collections come to libraries in
a variety of ways. In most cases (24 or 69%), there is
an affinity between the collection and existing library
holdings and interests. The survey data also indicate
the communities have a wide variety of urgencies
that necessitates collection partnerships and support,
including aging of the community (37%) and threats
to the materials (23%). Over half of the respondents (20
or 57%) described particular urgencies in depth, most
commonly the need to preserve records and histories
in danger of being lost or overlooked. Many librarians
report working with key community “ambassadors”
in the acquisitions and outreach process.
The majority of the community-based collections
hold materials that are consistent with traditional li-
brary and special collections holdings, including man-
uscripts, photographs, newspapers, artifacts, books,
oral histories, audio-visual materials, and ephem-
era, though most of the collections primarily hold
manuscripts and photographs. Although the libraries
process and house these diverse materials in vary-
ing ways, several respondents observed that housing
artifacts presents a particular challenge. Finding aids
(28 or 80%) and MARC entries in library catalogues (24
or 69%) are the two most common ways to describe
the collection, although a number of institutions use
spreadsheets (34%) and publicly-accessible databases
(26%) to arrange collection items.
Community-based collections are both created
and managed by group effort. Most of the respon-
dents (28 or 78%) have a team of library profession-
als who share processing/cataloguing, reference,
interpretation, and other duties on a daily basis,
with graduate and undergraduate student assistants
playing significant roles. The general governance of
the collection is the sole responsibility of the library
for most of the respondents (24 or 67%), but seven
(19%) reported they share governance duties with the
community organization.
In most cases, financial responsibility for collec-
tion care rests solely on the libraries’ shoulders (28
responses or 78%) only a small portion (6 or 17%)
shares that responsibility with the community. This
financial burden is a significant and troubling aspect
of collection care when coupled with the number of
respondents (32 or 89%) who reported that there is
no endowment supporting the collection. Only four
libraries (11%) report having an endowment and those
were secured after acquisition of the collection.
Community Stewardship
While stewardship of the affiliated community is an
integral part of managing community-based collec-
tions, the survey responses indicate that libraries may
be veering away from formal, regularly scheduled,
stewardship structures like advisory councils. Instead,
many report more casual methods, such as informal
meetings or ongoing personal relationships. To this
end, email and in-person, one-on-one meetings are
the most commonly reported methods of communi-
cating with community members, although several
libraries also send collection announcements through
community newsletters. Notably, virtual meeting plat-
forms such as Skype or GoToMeeting are the least
used methods of communication.
Donor Relations
The large majority of survey respondents (32 or 89%)
have no annual membership or friends affiliation asso-
ciated with the community-based collection, but they
do encourage private donations. Only about half of the
respondents publicly recognize monetary donations,
typically by way of a published list of donors’ names.
Volunteer Activities
Despite expressing a desire to do so, most of the re-
sponding libraries (28 or 78%) are not retaining any
members of the affiliated community as volunteers
with the collection. Though no clear reason is given
for not employing volunteers from the community,
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