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University of Connecticut University Libraries

Collection Development and Access Plan:
Molecular and Cell Biology

Prepared by Carolyn Mills, March, 2003
DRAFT

Purpose:

The purpose of this Collection Development and Access Plan is threefold. First, it is a tool for the Library to become better informed of the information and data needs of academic programs on campus. Second, it will outline how existing local collections, networked electronic services, and document delivery services are being utilized to meet the bibliographic needs of these programs. Third, it is hoped that this plan will provide the faculty and the library staff a base for dialog concerning future information needs and areas for cooperation. This plan follows the broad guidelines established in Ownership and Access in a Global Information Market: A Framework for the University of Connecticut Libraries, issued by the Chancellor's Library Advisory Committee in March 1999.

Contents:

  1. Characteristics of the Community
  2. Collections Budget Expenditure Patterns
  3. Current Patterns of Information Service
  4. Emerging Choices

I. Characteristics of the Community

Degree Programs

Undergraduate Program:

  • Biological Sciences Major, B.S. or B.A., or Minor, offered jointly by all three biology departments. A concentration in Biotechnology, B.S. is also available.
  • Biophysics Major, B.S.
  • Molecular and Cell Biology Major, B.S. or Minor Bioinformatics Minor offered jointly with the School of Engineering.

Graduate Degree Program: M.S. or Ph.D.

  • Major areas of research: biochemistry, biophysical chemistry, cell and developmental biology, genetics, microbiology, and plant cell and molecular biology.
  • Interdisciplinary areas, institutes and organizations: plant biology, biotechnology, materials science, and the Institute of Cellular and Molecular Biology.

Degrees Conferred, May 2000 Undergraduate: General Biology 35
MCB 45

Graduate: Masters: Biochemistry 3
Biophysics 1
Cell Biology 5
Microbiology 1
Doctoral: Biochemistry 1
Biophysics 1
Cell Biology 2
Microbiology 1
Faculty: 33 full time faculty (Spring, 2003)
6 adjunct faculty (Spring, 2003)
13 joint appointment faculty (Spring, 2003)
5 active emeritus faculty (Spring, 2003)
Students 400 Biology undergraduates (Fall 2001)
123 MCB undergraduates (Fall 2001)
11 Biophysics undergraduates (Fall 2001)

II. Collections Budget Expenditure Patterns

2002-2003 Collections Budget: $375,000*
2002-2003 actual anticipated expenditure: $440,000*

*Note that this is the budget for all three biology departments, there is no individual MCB budget. This does not include electronic products.

Serials $410,000 (journals and continuation series)

Monographs $30,000 (approval & firm order books, and continuation sets)

Approximately 10% of the collections budget is reserved for monograph purchases. The remaining 90% pays for journals and continuation series. In the 1999-2000 budget year, $10,000 was added to the journal budget, in recognition of the fact that the biology departments are priority programs, so that new titles could be added. These additions reflect the shifting of research interests as new faculty have been hired in all the biology departments.

Electronic Products For Biology:
$52,989 Biosis Previews with 5 simultaneous users
$8,190 Aquatic Sciences & Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA) (via CSA)
$9,540 JSTOR Ecology & Botany

Other Electronic Products which Support Biology:

Web of Science
Biological & Agricultural Index (via WilsonWeb)
Medline
Agricola
SciFinder Scholar
CABDirect

III. Current Patterns of Information Service

  1. Characteristics of the Literature

    In biology, journals are the life-blood of research. The disciplines of molecular and cell biology rely on a multidisciplinary collection of journal literature. Although predominant use of scientific journal literature is most frequently during the first five to ten years after publication, archival access to older issues remains important for researchers in MCB.

    Inflation patterns in biology journals in general are high, and the journals needed by researchers and students in Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) are among the worst inflators. The dominant journals in this area tend to be published by a decreasing pool of merging commercial publishers.

  2. Collection Development
    1. Areas of Focus

      The Library supports collection development in all major areas of molecular and cell biology, with special attention to those areas outlined as important for faculty research (see Section 1.) Collection development in all mediums is focused on the needs of instruction and current research.

    2. Acquisition Strategies
      1. Monographs

        The University of Connecticut uses the Yankee Book Peddler Approval Slip Plan, which covers US scholarly and trade publishers plus their Canadian and British equivalents, which directly distribute in the US. The subject focus outlined in the approval plan profile is quite broad for biology, ensuring we receive or are notified about most currently published material from these sources. In addition, faculty and graduate student requests for other monographs are readily purchased, and a variety of review sources for biology monographs are regularly scanned. Formats generally not collected include introductory textbooks, examinations and study guides, field identification guides and laboratory manuals.

      2. Journals

        The biology journal budget is totally absorbed by the cost of ongoing journal subscriptions. In general, new journal purchases must be funded by the cancellation of other currently received titles. Selection of new titles must be grounded in a broad base of need, a major lack of coverage or an opportunity (as in the SPARC initiatives) to support a not-for profit competitor to an over-priced, commercial title. A track record of repeated DD/ILL use may also indicate possible need for a title.

        High inflation rates for biology journals have made regular serial cuts a painful necessity, averaging every other year for at least the past six years. Journals used by MCB researchers and students are especially susceptible to these cuts because of the dominance of commercial for-profit publishers in these fields and the concentration of high quality research in those commercially published journals. These journals are the unavoidable target of cuts in library holdings at a rate higher than that for one of the other biology departments (EEB) where journals tend to be lower in both inflation rate and price. This unfortunate trend is not going to change in the near future; difficult decisions will abound. Although the losses will be spread across the three biology departments as much as possible, MCB will likely continue to bear a larger proportion of the cuts because of the nature of journal publishing and pricing patterns in the different areas of biology.

        When deciding which titles to retain and which to cut, a number of factors are considered, including: the inflation history of the particular title and that of its publisher; the importance and reproducibility of graphics; the availability of the title among external suppliers; the general importance of the title for teaching and research; and the anticipated cost of supplying requests through DD/ILL. MCB has lost a number of important titles in recent years and will almost certainly lose additional ones in the future.

        See below for a discussion of the more fluid situation of electronic journals.

  3. Access Development
    1. Relevant Indexes, Abstracts, Library Catalogs and Bibliographic Utilities

      The Library, as part of a consortium agreement with other Connecticut libraries, acquired in 2000 access to Biosis, the leading indexing service for the biological sciences. Other indexes and abstracts, such as the CSA Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA) and Web of Science, provide additional coverage for many areas of biology. Molecular and cell biology and microbiology as also covered in PubMed (Medline.) Biochemistry receives ample coverage in SciFinder Scholar. Agricola and CAB Direct additionally support interests in several areas of biology, including genetics, botany and zoology. Current awareness resources such as Silver Platter and INGENTA (formerly known as UnCover Reveal) are used by faculty and graduate students to identify new work in their areas of research in Biosis, Agricola and Medline. The library is currently evaluating the value of these two current awareness services and would welcome input from faculty on this matter.

      In order to assist MCB faculty and students in locating the research materials they need, the Library will continue to use a combination of local collections, licensed electronic products, subject and program-based web links, current-awareness services, and document delivery and interlibrary loan. The current compliment of general electronic indexing, abstracting, full-text services, and current awareness services as well as those specific to Biology provided by the Library seems adequate to meet this objective.

    2. Electronic Journals, Books and Data

      User enthusiasm and economic incentives have caused the library to embrace electronic only access to commercial as well as non-profit journal packages. With the subscription year that begins in January 2004, if a cost savings is available, the libraries are generally converting journal subscriptions that currently bring us both print and electronic copies to electronic-only provision.

      We are making this change on a publisher-by-publisher basis. Many of our electronic journals do not come directly by license from the publisher, but instead through aggregator products such as Lexis-Nexis Academic, Dow-Jones, InfoTrac and Wilson Web. The arrangements between aggregators and publishers are constantly in flux. Only when titles are available through multiple aggregators, in a complete and reasonably current version will the cancellation of print be considered.

      We have resisted going electronic-only up to now because of concerns about long-term, archival access. Commercial publishers cannot be relied upon to archive their content once the prospect of additional sales approaches nil. Although a solution is far from in place, we believe that technologies now under examination, with funding from the National Science Foundation among others, will yield solutions whereby the largest research libraries will undertake the distributed archiving of digital content in all our interest. We expect that even the largest commercial publishers will, ultimately, cooperate with such an arrangement.

      One of the primary goals in the immediate future will be to identify the journals for which we have a subscription but not electronic access, and attempt to add said access. Often the stumbling block for doing so is the license agreement. Additionally, many of the society journals are only now being made available electronically. Often, online access to these titles is free with a print subscription. Retaining access to the already respectable menu of online journals provided by the Library is an ongoing library goal although this effort is becoming increasingly difficult. Because of unsustainable inflation of scholarly journals, electronic only access may be increasingly viewed as a viable option. The question of permanent access to reliable archives of this material is not yet resolved, making such a switch a risky venture.

      Furthermore, electronic journals can be hot linked to web based indexes like Web of Science, and the electronic resources listed above. Additionally, the Library’s electronic journal locator, eCompass, facilitates the identification of specific e-journal titles "owned" by the Library (i.e., accessible via the University internet domain, ".uconn.edu".)

    3. Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan

      The provision of dependable, accessible DD/ILL services is crucial for all the sciences when considering collection development issues. As in other areas of science, regular biology serial cancellations in the face of increasing subscription costs will continue to force greater reliance on DD/ILL services. In recent years MCB faculty and graduate students have been regular users of DD/ILL services and that will continue. As the technology has improved for transmitting text and graphics, and for routing, tracking, and automating request traffic, DD/ILL provision of documents has become a more accepted and valued method of journal article access for MCB faculty and graduate students. Electronic Document Delivery is a very positive, heavily used aspect of the DD/ILL service and is greatly appreciated by all biology DD/ILL users. Additionally, statistics from DD/ILL requests will be valuable in helping to determine which journals should be held locally and which are best accessed remotely.

      The acquisition of information via DD/ILL is increasingly seen as an acceptable alternative mode of access to information in biology. However, the Library is cognizant of a variety of reasons why in MCB particularly it is certainly less desirable than local ownership of the print journal: 1) critical graphics reproduction is still frequently poor; and 2) DD/ILL services timeframes often frustrate those who must prepare grant proposals against tight deadlines.

    4. Other Internet-based Resources

      The Biology Library Liaison maintains a web page that organizes and promotes a wide range of electronic resources for the Biological Sciences including locally licensed indexing/abstracting services and full-text resources located at: /research/bysubject/biotable.htm. The liaison welcomes comments on improvements to the page and/or additional sites, which should be listed.


IV. Emerging Choices

The Library's fund allocations tend to lump rather then split. Biology, similar to Business, Communications, Education and other areas, shares an arrangement under which three departments, with related but sometimes, conflicting interests and needs, all operate out of one budget. If the Departments feel that disaggregating all costs into multiple budgets will work better, the Biology liaison is willing to work with the departments toward that end. It is not immediately clear, however, that competition over scarce resources, will be made any less difficult by creating three smaller, and possibly less flexible, pots of money.

Because journals are critical for biology research and teaching, the clearest challenge in collection development for all biology departments is managing the transition to electronic journals. There are major questions and concerns raised by this transition and no ready answers. As we purchase different packages and products, both library staff and MCB faculty and students must understand that we are experimenting in the acquisition of journals in this new medium and that permanent electronic access cannot be guaranteed for everything we initially provide. All journal users are encouraged to be active participants in the promotion and evaluation of electronic journals within their subject areas.

Bundling of electronic journals also has a major impact on collection development in biology and other disciplines as well. In the past, journal cancellations were done on an individual title level. Now, however, commercial publishers are selling their journal collections as packages, which either cannot be reduced in size during the life of the contract or can be reduced by an extremely small amount. In renegotiations of new contracts commercial publishers are generally unwilling to allow libraries to re-size their holdings in any appreciable way. While profitable for the publisher, this arrangement substantially reduces a library’s ability to trim journal subscriptions in order to stay within budget or to shift journal holdings between publishers in response to changing needs of instruction and research on campus. This trend in commercial publishing is very disturbing and will profoundly affect the library’s ability to support the needs of both instructors and researchers and the library budget in the future.

The scholarly communications issue is also of major importance for collection development in MCB and the other biology departments. In the face of decades of escalating subscription costs a variety of alternative publishing efforts have arisen, and the Library will continue to support alternative publishing efforts where possible, including BioOne, SPARC, JSTOR and other initiatives with arise impacting biology.

The Library will also lobby on campus for increased awareness among faculty and students of the central issues in scholarly communication and their potential impacts on library collections and information availability on campus.

In order to assist MCB faculty and students to locate the research materials they need, the Library will continue to use a combination of local collections, licensed electronic products, subject and program-based web links, current-awareness services, and document delivery and interlibrary loan. Our current compliment of electronic and print collections and services is clearly superior to where we were several years ago.

The significant evolution in collection development and access patterns requires enhanced communication between library staff and the faculty and students they serve. Ongoing dialogue will help ensure that the best choices are being made and that users are knowledgeable about emerging kinds of library resources in terms of access and intelligent use and the risks involved in some of these choices. The Library Liaison Program will continue to be the primary vehicle for this kind of contact.

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