14 · Survey Results: Executive Summary
this issue is perhaps more acutely felt when work-
ing with expanding collections that benefit from an
ongoing investment of time and energy to support
a variety of preservation needs. Most of the survey
respondents cite financial and staffing resources as
a challenge to working with community-based col-
lections. The amount of time needed for processing,
digitization, and community outreach paired with
small budgets is a concern. Adequate storage space
for materials is also a problem reported by a number
of institutions.
Staff /Community Satisfaction
Both library staff and the community are perceived
as being mostly satisfied (68% and 72% respectively)
with the working relationships they have with each
other. Comments from respondents indicate that the
slight dissatisfaction may be linked to divergent ex-
pectations and goals between library staff and com-
munity members. Staff satisfaction with the overall
strategy for managing the community-based collec-
tions is slightly lower (58%), but even those reporting
dissatisfaction or neutrality optimistically describe
possibilities for continuing growth and improvement
in the future.
Rewarding experiences for library faculty and
staff are often closely tied to job duties such as pro-
viding access, preserving a legacy, and facilitating
original research and scholarship. Respondents also
identified a number of rewards derived from working
with community-based collections, including revital-
izing organizations and strengthening communi-
ties. Several respondents also noted the possibility
of highlighting diversity, promoting inclusiveness,
and providing a presence to underrepresented and
marginalized groups.
Twenty-nine of the survey respondents (52%) have
done some kind of collection assessment. The most
common assessment technique is gathering statistics
(20 responses or 69%), which is most frequently con-
ducted on an annual basis. Statistics are most com-
monly gathered on collection usage and outreach
efforts. Some respondents have collected internal col-
lection processing statistics, as well. About half of
the respondents have conducted internal surveys of
library staff, typically on collection processing, on
a one-time or occasional basis. Ten have conducted
interviews and focus groups with community users,
most often to gather information on collection use and
outreach. In at least one instance, an interview of com-
munity members also contributed to collection pro-
cessing as the interviews yielded oral history records
for the collection. Occasionally, some respondents
have solicited comments from or surveyed collection
users. About half of the responding libraries have used
several of these methods at different times to assess
their community-based collections.
The primary purpose of conducting collection as-
sessments is to understand and improve collection us-
age. Other reasons are related to grant requirements
or grant preparation, and as part of library-wide col-
lection management assessment. Two respondents
used assessment for the express purpose of building
relationships with the local community, soliciting
their feedback, or promoting external stakeholder
“buy in.” Significantly, no respondents reported that
assessment is a way of promoting internal stakeholder
buy-in within the library.
It appears that assessment is not currently seen as
a major component of most community-based collec-
tions work. Statistics gathering on collection process-
ing and usage forms part of many libraries’ normal
institutional assessment procedures and priority-set-
ting exercises. For a notable minority of respondents,
however, collection assessment is an important way
to improve community-based collection processing,
usage, and engagement, and for a small number of
institutions, assessment is a way to create a vehicle to
solicit involvement with collection communities and
users in ongoing collection development work.
The institutional incorporation of community-based
collections expands the mission of library faculty and
staff from custodianship to stewardship, not only of
a collection, but also of a community. In this process,
libraries and community partners bring together
archival knowledge with interpersonal skills, local
expertise, and emotional intelligence. Importantly,
libraries may also depart from the unidirectional
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