consulting to academic libraries and library vendors

Professional Seminars

Emerging trends can be difficult to identify and track when engaged in the press of daily routines. As an independent organization with a commitment to bringing new value to libraries, R2 works hard to keep our knowledge current. As we research new topics or develop new concepts, we simultaneously develop presentations to provide overview, context, and practical details for libraries and related audiences. Rick Lugg and Ruth Fischer are frequent speakers at major professional meetings, including the Charleston Library Conference, the Society for Scholarly Publishing, E-Resources & Libraries, Exploring Acquisitions, and American Library Association conferences.

In addition, R2 often provides half-day or day-long seminars in collaboration with libraries or library groups to host and present private seminars.. R2 has previously conducted seminars for MINITEX, CARLI, MLNC, BLC, and CAVAL Collaborative Solutions, among others.

At present, our two primary topics include:

Rethinking Library Resources: Sustainable Print Collections in a Digital World

Library shelves are increasingly full, and more books are being published than ever. Yet surprisingly few are being used. The Kent study, begun in 1969 at the University of Pittsburgh, found that 40% of monographs in academic collections never circulate. Recent data suggest that percentage is even higher today, as users flock to electronic content. Meanwhile, library administrators seek to expand space for group study, information commons, writing centers, and cafes. Much of the available space is currently occupied by low-use print collections, at an estimated annual cost of $4.26 per volume. For all these reasons, print collections are facing scrutiny.

Many libraries have already begun to store or withdraw journal backfiles represented in JSTOR, to weed print reference collections, to share last-copy responsibilities, and to rethink tangible Government Documents. For print monographs, other factors must be considered, such as the extent of holdings in other libraries, and the availability of secure full-text digital surrogates. Deselection decisions, especially for monographs, can be inefficient and labor-intensive.

Such decision-making can also be difficult and controversial. As a result, deselection has rarely been a priority for most libraries. It tends to attract attention from the wider campus community, and communication needs to be managed carefully. Decisions need to be supported by data. The tools and techniques to support weeding and storage decisions remain underdeveloped, although new options such as SUNY Geneseo’s Gifts & De-Selection Manager (GDM), Ithaka’s What To Withdraw decision-support tool for journals, and R2’s Sustainable Collections Service (SCS) are beginning to be deployed.

Palliatives such as compact shelving, shared collection development, and distributed print archives can provide temporary relief. But hard decisions remain regarding library space and the budgets dedicated to low-use print collections. Ultimately, every library will need to define its “carrying capacity” for print, and develop strategies to maintain that level as new content is acquired—while ensuring the integrity of their collections.

R2 will present these issues from multiple viewpoints, and describe rationales, tools, techniques, and strategies for achieving and maintaining sustainable collections. We will introduce new opportunities and safeguards, such as the growing availability of electronic full-text surrogates. We will highlight the development of new tools, and the potential effect of on-demand acquisitions.

The session is designed to run between 3-4 hours, and to include some
or all of the following topics:

  • How Did Print Become a "Legacy" Format?
  • Libraries: From Book-Centered to Learning-Centered Organizations
  • Use of Print: Expert Selection
  • Use of Print: Approval Plans and Batch Selection
  • Costs: Library Space
  • Costs: Print Lifecycle Management
  • The Cost of Action vs. The Cost of Inaction
  • Availability of Full-Text Digital Content
  • Availability of Print Alternatives
  • The Case for Weeding
  • Legacy Print Management Strategies: Journals
  • Legacy Print Management Strategies: Monographs
  • Decision-Support Tools
  • De-Selection Workflows
  • Sustainable Print Collections
    • Reducing Intake: Patron-Driven Acquisitions
    • Reducing Intake: eBooks
    • Balancing Intake and Outflow
  • Making the Case and Managing Communication

R2 will present and discuss these topics from the vantage points of collection development, technical services, library administrators, students, and teaching faculty. Based on our experience with library workflows, we will also outline a batch-oriented, rules-based approach to deselection that can replace a time-consuming, title-by-title slog. Finally, we will suggest effective project management scenarios, and describe how to integrate deselection activities into ongoing operations, ensuring a print collection that is sustainable for the long term.

Creating the Capacity for Change:
Transforming Library Workflows and Organizations

Libraries face unprecedented demands to adapt to the digital environment. New and emerging tasks related to institutional repositories, non-MARC metadata, networked resources, and new generations of users place additional pressure on staff and workflows built to handle print materials. Yet print-related workloads are not diminishing as fast as digital workloads are growing. Meanwhile, the growth of external "competitors", such as Google, increase the need for libraries to focus on user expectations and highlight their own unique attributes.

How can libraries turn these pressures into opportunities? How can librarians adapt workflows, priorities, and organizational structures to provide those services most important to users? How can library leaders create the capacity to pursue critical new initiatives without increasing staff? What new tools and services can help? R2 offers advice, both strategic and practical, drawn from our experience conducting workflow analysis and organizational redesign in more than 80 academic libraries of all sizes and types.

A typical session runs from 10 AM-3:00 PM, divided along the following lines:

  • 9:30: R2 Set-up
  • 10:00: Why Workflow Redesign? (An Environmental Scan)
  • 11:00: Break
  • 11:15: Workflow Redesign: Principles and Practices
  • 12:15: Lunch
  • 1:00: Creating Capacity in Collections, Acquisitions, Serials, E-Resources, Cataloging and Preservation
  • 2:00: Break
  • 2:15: Conclusion, Discussion and Questions

Each session throughout the day becomes gradually more specific.

In Why Workflow Redesign? R2 reviews trends in the information environment that are shaping new demands on libraries. Topics include Predictions, Changing Users, and Trends in Collection Development, Acquisitions, and Cataloging/Discovery.

In Principles and Practices we outline our own approach to conducting workflow audits and the business principles that guide R2 recommendations.

In Creating Capacity, we look at sample recommendations and outcomes in specific functional areas. R2 models the thinking and interaction that will be needed by library managers to undertake a successful workflow analysis.