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Monday April 18th – Future Tangibles Large Academic Libraries Breakout

To provide your own take on the Large Academic Libraries breakout session on “future tangible distribution”, please either comment below, or send your notes and/or multimedia to dnlcornwall@alaska.net. Please let FGI know whether we can use your name and affiliation.

The following notes were contributed by Arlene Weible of the University of North Texas library.

All interpretations of documents and comments made are those of the notetaker and do not reflect on their home institution. All mistakes are those of the notetaker and/or FGI. Please feel free to post corrections.

  1. Users of depository libraries have differing needs for tangible documents.
    • What is unique about your library’s users and how to those characteristics create a requirement for the use of tangible documents? What information needs do tangible documents meet for your users that are not met through electronic information.
    • Many land grant universities have to serve the public, so economically disadvantaged users have trouble using electronic only publications due to inadequate Internet access and prohibitive printing costs.
    • Have trouble accessing data sets, do not have adequate software support.
    • Some faculty require students not to use the Internet for class assignments
  2. Under ID 71, GPO policy is to continue tangible distribution of essential titles as long as the publishing agency publishes in tangible form. GPO will also continue tangible distribution for those titles for which there are not useable/useful electronic equivalents. GPO will apply the criteria in ID 71 to determine how to best provide other information products by assessing: a) How the product will be used. b) The specific characteristics of the online and/or tangible product. c) Issues relating to permanent public access. d) The cost of providing the material. Do you concur with this criteria? Are there additional criteria that GPO should consider?
    • Concern that GPO may not have the knowledge/expertise to determine how a product will be used. There needs to be more specific criteria or decision points described under this criteria.
    • It was also pointed out that while GPO could save money by not distributing a tangible document, it will pass along that cost to libraries, who may need to acquire a tangible version for their local community needs or will see increased service costs. GPO, not the libraries, see the benefit in a cost/benefit analysis.
    • Additional criteria suggested:
      • ease of use
      • agency preferences (if agency orders print, assume this is most useful format for users)
      • high public demand and popularity
      • file size
      • ability to extract data
  3. Approximately 60% of depository libraries participated in the most recent Essential Titles Survey. While many sample surveys would consider this an excellent response rate, the purpose of this survey was to determine if a clear set of additional titles could be identified as essential for the various types of depository libraries. How can we most effectively use the survey results to make meaningful decisions? Do you concur with the recommendations put forth this morning by the Depository Library Council? Are there other steps that GPO and the community should take?
    • General unhappiness with the latest survey was expressed. There was also unhappiness with the assumption GPO expressed that librarians were only looking after their own interests and not their users’ because so many “librarian tools” appeared in the survey results. Library tools are used to assist with user services, and librarians are legitimate users of government information.
    • It was suggested that GPO may want to survey depository users directly.
    • Concern over the method of identifying essential titles by type of library. Many libraries serve diverse clientele. Suggested trying to identify essential titles by subject.
    • It was also suggested a future survey many want to be limited to items that are currently active, and those listed in the complete results of the latest survey.
    • The Canadian depository system was mentioned as a possible model. The libraries pick titles from a weekly? list and are given information about how to acquire a tangible copy if one is not provided.

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