Helpful Hints for Developing Subject Expertise and Learning your Collection
1. Get at least a basic knowledge of the discipline. This knowledge will help all aspects of your collection managing,
including talking intelligently to faculty, teaching research classes in the discipline, and collecting materials.
How to do it?
2. Know your Department's focus and current research interests; be familiar with the research in the field as a whole
- have Serials Receiveing route to you the latest issue of core journals in the field
- read or familiarize yourself with basic texts in the area, whether textbooks or popular works
- read or familiarize yourself with publications from as many faculty in the department as you can (select the most influential writers and read or skim their work and reviews of their work)
- take and/or audit classes in the field
- earn an advanced degree in the field
- keep a subject dictionary at your desk
- attend workshops and lectures in the field.
- doing all of the items below will serve as continuing education as well
How to do it?
3. Know your discipline's use of the library.
- meet and survey faculty as much as possible; at the least try for annual meetings with key faculty, department heads, and library liasons, to find out their research interests
- create and maintain profiles of faculty; keep it up-to-date- what was hot three years ago may no longer be hot
- ask faculty about their graduate students and their research
- always make a special effort to meet new faculty
- attend department and campus events; meet and talk with faculty; make yourself visible to the department's community
- identify and join your discipline's professional organizations; attend meetings; know and monitor publications of these organizations, which are often core journals that nearly everyone reads or scans; be aware of conferences, etc.
- keep a file of newspaper clippings related to department/field (especially handy for those of you with Nobels!)
- keep an eye on department publications and Web sites for news
- set up Melvyl updates based on research interests of the department; also on key faculty names, so as not to miss publications
- monitor professional lists in your area/discipline
- subscribe to department publications (newsletter) and ask to be added to the department Listserv
How to do it?
4. Network with library colleagues in your discipline.
- when talking with faculty, ask about both their own and their students' research; offer to teach a library research orienation session (in their classroom or library) and provide one-on-one research consultations; if an instruction session can't be arranged, offer to provide handouts
- ask faculty for their favorite publishers, books, and journals (be careful not to promise journal subscriptions that you can't afford)
- each quarter, know what classes are being offered; survey faculty and TAs on what classes may be doing library research; get syllabi and assignments; when appropriate, keep offering to teach instruction sessions; if students come to the Reference desk and you see that a library class would have been appropriate, contact instructor
- reach out to students, grad and undergrad; discuss their needs, including what their classes are doing
- get statistics from ILL - what's being borrowed in your discipline; should we acquire the items?
- solicit circulation/use statistics; know what reports are available
- work with UCSB library colleagues in related or interdisciplinary areas
How to do it?
5. Know your collection. Build your collection based on everything you've learned from above.
- attend and be active in any UC consortia/subject bibliographer groups for your discipline
- when the call for reseource liaisons is distributed, volunteer to be a resource liaison for a database in your area
- consult colleagues with similar collection/bibliographer responsibilities
- join library organizations: ALA, ACRL, CARL; become active in sections relevant to your discipline
How to do it?
- identify and maintain a list of relevant publishers (YBP publishers, non YBP publishers, and small presses; scan catalogs
- know your Yankee profile (publishers and call numbers covered) and options for editing it; edit as needed
- browse the stacks in your area; know the LC schedule, are there gaps. Occasionally immerse yourself in a specific area, learning the topic and assessing the collection
- become familiar with reference sources (print, electronic, and open access Web resources) for your area (shelf read the reference area)
- know CDL/UC and other systemwide collection efforts
- search OCLC, RLIN, or MELVYL to find out what have been published on the subject areas you are collecting or by key authors in the field; set up Melvyl updates
- monitor library lists in your area/discipline
- know core journals in field; watch for new journals of potential interest; evaluate subscriptions often based on changing research trends in your subject and department
- monitor journals for overview of research, book reviews, and publisher advertisements (Serials can route latest issues to you when they come); monitor library review sources (i.e., Choice, LJ), and be aware of popular press coverage and reviews in your discipline
- examine core bibliographies in the field; consider compiling a bibliography or other reference tool for researchers in the field
- what did your predecessor leave behind; update their reference guides (print and Web based)
- look at bookstores and other libraries. Know public library strengths in your collection
- meet with relevant vendors at conferences and or during library visits
- maintain a wish list of items you'd like to add to the collection, but can't currently afford; try and buy at least one item from the list each year
Back to Collection Manager's Manual.
Authors: Task Force for Orientation of New Collection Managers; comments on content and arrangement to Sherri Barnes.
Updated: 12/12/06 12:09:23