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University of Connecticut University Libraries

Collection Development and Access Plan:
English

Prepared by Richard Bleiler, DATE: February, 2001
DRAFT for review by the Department of English

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 the English Department. Second, it will outline how existing local collections, networked electronic services, and document deliveries are being utilized to meet bibliographic needs. Third, it may provide the faculty of the English Department and the library staff a base for dialog concerning future information needs and area 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

The information community of the Department of English comprises the traditional three user groups - undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty - of which the faculty group is naturally the smallest. Nearly 50% of the faculty are adjuncts, and although there have been a number of retirements in the last few years, the Department of English has only recently (in 2001) received permission to hire replacements.

  1. Degrees and concentrations offered.
    BA, MA, PH.D offered. Students can study English literature from its oldest texts to the texts of the present; degrees with concentrations in literary theory are offered. Cross-disciplinary courses are offered in the degree granting programs of Comparative Literature and Medieval Studies. The department also offers programs in Creative Writing and American Studies, and a program by which students may study abroad. All the campuses offer basic undergraduate English courses (the English 100 series); but only the Storrs campus regularly offers instruction at anything beyond the basic courses, and only the Storrs campus offers graduate instruction. The graduate program is centered at Storrs, and all of the students rely upon physical access to the Babbidge Library for their course work as well as Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan services to complete their dissertations. Distance education is not yet a significant factor in the activities of the Department of English.
  2. Number of faculty and distribution across the system
    56 faculty and 24 adjuncts in Spring 2000 (departmental Website 6/19/2000). Distribution of faculty: 2 Avery Point; 3 Hartford; 4 Stamford; 1 Torrington; 3 Waterbury; 44 Storrs (departmental Website 6/19/2000). The numbers do not add up because some of the faculty share joint appointments with campuses.
  3. Numbers of undergraduate majors and graduate students by degree sought
    In 2000: 400 (general) undergraduate majors and 40 honors majors; approximately 110 graduates. (Data from Website 6/19/2000.)
  4. Faculty research areas
    All areas of English literature and literary theory are routinely taught. However, there are particular strengths (i.e., multiple productive faculty) in the areas of :
    Medieval Studies
    Eighteenth Century English Literature
    Nineteenth Century American Literature
    Twentieth Century American Literature
    Twentieth Century English Literature
    Post-Colonial Literatures
    Gay and Lesbian Literatures
    Creative Writing
    A search currently underway for an expert in Renaissance (16th Century) English Literatures should increase that area’s strengths when the position is filled.

II. Collections Budget Expenditure Patterns

Allocated funds for monographs and journals

English and American Literature exclusive of Medieval Studies and Drama/Performing Arts Monographs ( and other non-serial media) : $104,198.00
Serials: $10,370.00

Medieval Studies Monographs ( and other non-serial media) : $16,631.00
Serials: $5,348.00

Drama/Performing Arts Precise figures cannot be provided because HUMUSC does not differentiate between purchases for music (and related areas) and purchases for drama and performing arts.

Networked Services: Electronic indexing, abstracting, and full-text services purchased by the Library’s Networked Services budget (not reflected in the above figures) which primarily (or in some cases significantly) support research in English include: MLA Bibliography, ABELL, American Humanities Index, JSTOR, MUSE, America History and Life, Historical Abstracts, InfoTrac, Galenet, Dictionary of Old English Corpus, Middle English Compendium, Poole's Plus, and Women Writers. (For a more complete list consult the English Resources by Subject page at: /research/bysubject/engweb.html

III. Current Patterns of Information Service

  1. Characteristics of the Literature

    Literary scholars require more monographs and published primary and secondary source materials than all other disciplines. Literary scholars also require a steadily increasing core of journals to support their endeavors. The reasons for this are given below.

    Unlike the materials in other fields of study, primary literature does not lose its value over time, and although the very idea of "literature" is constantly being re-appraised and re-evaluated, literary "classics" are constantly being reprinted in various forms. The traditional concept of the limited canon of literature - a small body of authors whose works are known and accepted without question or debate as the best, as essential, as a shared resource to which all scholars and critics can make reference and be understood - has been redefined and in some areas has largely ceased to exist, though scholarship on these authors and their works has not ceased and has, if anything, increased. Authors who were once ignored or considered marginal to the canon are constantly being re-appraised, and hitherto marginalized writers are now being studied not only for their perceived literary importance but also as pioneers for their racial heritage, their ethnicity, their sexuality, their geographical origins, and their beliefs. Similarly, literary genres once considered beneath study - popular literatures, comic books, motion pictures, children’s literatures, and so forth - are now receiving significant academic attention. There nevertheless remains a consistent and constant need to acquire monographs reprinting works as they appeared during the author’s lifetime as well as for variorum and "textually correct" editions of the texts.

    A small percentage of secondary literatures loses its value over time, and classics of criticism are constantly being reprinted. It must be stressed that although some critics and some schools of literary theory have lost their luster and their academic cachet, their adherents do not simply vanish from sight when their leaders die or when the winds of study change direction. Academics can be long-lived: Frank Kermode’s The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theories of Fiction was based on 1965 lectures and was first published as a monograph in 1967; a revised and expanded edition appeared in 2000. Similarly, the critical theories espoused by George Saintsbury (1845-1933) are as dead as the critic, but that does not prohibit Saintsbury from being the subject of contemporary academic study.

    As times change and new ideas emerge, new schools of literary theory have erupted to compete with and occasionally supersede and replace the older schools. It is pointless to list these schools of criticism and the theoretical focuses each espouse, but the last decade has seen the rise to prominence of such new approaches as Post-Colonial Studies and Queer Theory. Perhaps because of the increasingly limited opportunities for tenure-track employment, the last decade has also seen what appears to be unparalleled politicization and polarization of the field, with various theoretical factions feuding with a fervor that would do credit to 16th century divines. Nor have these factions feuded in silence: they have published monographs and established journals to support their viewpoints.

    It is axiomatic that the humanities trail other areas in making resources electronically available. Compared to other disciplines, the humanities have relatively few electronic journals, and but a small fraction of these are refereed.

    Though there have been significant increase in costs in monographs and serials since 1984, as indicated by the table below, it should be mentioned that the expenses for Literature and Language are significantly lower than those in the fields of Science and Social Science.

    "U. S. Periodical Prices 1999": LITERATURE and LANGUAGE (38% of the titles increased in price)

    Year Number of Titles Average Price Percentage Index
    1984 158 23.02 - 100.0
    1985 158 24.18 5.0 105.0
    1986 158 25.21 4.2 109.5
    1987 158 26.21 4.0 113.9
    1988 158 28.04 7.0 121.8
    1989 158 29.41 4.9 127.8
    1990 158 30.63 4.1 133.0
    1991 158 32.99 7.7 143.3
    1992 158 35.77 8.4 155.4
    1993 158 37.46 4.7 162.7
    1994 158 39.72 6.0 172.5
    1995 158 41.80 5.2 181.6
    1996 158 44.16 5.6 191.8
    1997 158 46.72 5.8 203.0
    1998 158 49.98 7.0 217.1
    1999 158 53.24 6.5 231.3
  2. Collection Development
    1. Areas of Focus

      The Department of English currently supports doctoral level work in all aspects of American Literature and English Literature from the Middle Ages to the present; degrees with concentrations in literary theory are offered. Cross-disciplinary courses are offered in the degree granting programs of Comparative Literature and Medieval Studies. The department also offers programs in Creative Writing and American Studies, and a program by which students may study abroad. All the campuses offer basic undergraduate English courses (the English 100 series); but only the Storrs campus regularly offers instruction at anything beyond the basic courses, and only the Storrs campus offers graduate instruction. The graduate program is centered at Storrs, and all of the students rely upon physical access to the Babbidge Library for their course work as well as Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan services to complete their dissertations.

    2. Acquisition Strategies
      1. Monographs

        Because English and American Literatures have a long shelf-life, because contemporary publishers are issuing their works in smaller print runs, and because there is an attempt at balancing the collection, purchasing new and reprinted primary literatures as well as acquiring secondary works espousing various theoretical approaches, the expenses of supporting collection development have increased, as have the difficulties of materials selection. Comprehensive collections of English and American Literatures are not feasible; in areas of English and American literature that are not actively taught, acquisitions are largely limited to historical surveys and to major theoretical works, often only to the monographs published by the presses carried by the Yankee Book Peddler (YBP), the Library's primary domestic book supplier.

        Regarding new approaches to literary criticism and theoretical analysis such as Post-Colonial Studies and Queer Theory, it is recognized that these materials must be collected and at least selectively represented in the collections. In those areas that are not actively taught the acquisitions are largely limited to surveys, readers, and monographs published by significant publishers that will have comparative import.

        The sources most relied upon for acquiring supporting monographic materials are:

        1. Yankee Book Peddler (YBP) Approval / Slip Plan. The YBP covers all American university presses and many university presses from the United Kingdom, plus many scholarly / academic trade publishers whose works are produced or actively distributed in the United States. Nevertheless, publishers who do not offer discounts to YBP, or who produce fewer than five titles per year, or who prefer to sell their books directly rather than through jobbers, are not covered. A full list of the covered publishers is available from: http://www.ybp.com/publisherlists.htm
        2. Small Press Distribution (SPD) Catalog. The SPD lists the publications of "alternative" and privately owned presses, particularly those that publish works by authors who are emerging from obscurity and who are not yet established as commercially viable properties of the sort covered by the publishers represented by YBP. Titles are selected from the SPD Catalog, published quarterly. A full list of the more than 500 independent presses covered by the SPD is available from: http://www.spdbooks.org/interact/html.asp?html=links.html
        3. Kennys Bookshop and Art Galleries (KB) of Ireland. KB lists Anglo-Irish publications, with an emphasis on those published by academic institutions. Many of these institutions are not represented by either YBP or its United Kingdom office, Lindsay and Howes. Titles are selected from the Kennys’ Books catalogues, distributed electronically on a monthly basis. Their website is: http://www.kennys.ie
        4. Mary Martin Booksellers (MMB) of Tatabad, Coimbatore, India. The recently emergent and rapidly growing field of Post-Colonial Literatures in English is not adequately represented through the publications offered by the three jobbers listed above, whereas MMB specializes in these materials. Titles are selected from the MMB catalogues, distributed electronically on a monthly basis.
        5. Monographs that have won literary awards are not necessarily superior works, but the very nature of the award virtually guarantees that the book will be read by somebody. The lists of award winning titles available through amazon.com are routinely monitored and checked against the holdings of the University of Connecticut Libraries.
        6. Retrospective collection development is sporadically done through checking the sources indexed by such standard reference publications as The Short Story Index and The Drama Index. Significant collections that have been missed by the previous processes have been identified and purchased.
        7. Faculty and graduate student recommendations. These come sporadically and tend to be of three types: for titles that have not yet been published but which have been well-advertised; for titles that have been published and well advertised but are by publishers that do not posses significant academic cachet (i.e., Peter Lang, Edwin Mellen, and the University Press of America); and for titles that are specialized scholarly works.
        8. The Department of English routinely hosts the Lynn Wood Neag Professor, a distinguished scholar from Great Britain. This person occasionally makes requests for the purchase of materials.
        9. Personal checking through lists and reviews published by specialized works and recommended by experts and authorities.
      2. Journals

        New journal subscriptions in English and American Literatures are generally ordered pursuant to requests from students or faculty, though costs of acquiring articles from the journal via Document Delivery / Interlibrary Loan on an as-needed basis are also considered. Almost none of the journals currently subscribed to are issued by for-profit publishers.

        Electronic journal subscriptions tend to be acquired by recommendation from the bibliographer and not by requests from a student or a faculty member.

      3. Other Media

        Materials in non-print format - videos, CD-ROMs, microformats, etc. - tend to be acquired in a variety of ways.

        CD-ROMs frequently accompany monographic purchases and are purchased as a matter of course. Unless they contain unique data and belong in the Reference Department, most CD-ROMs circulate. Their shelf life is unknown.

        Videos are generally ordered pursuant to requests from students or faculty. Their shelf life is unknown, but with the advent and increasing accessibility of DVD technology, it may be considered to be increasingly limited.

        Microformat materials are acquired pursuant to requests from students or faculty and then only when the paper resources are prohibitively expensive or do not exist. Additionally, with constant increases in electronic accessibility, these materials may languish while the electronic resources are being used.

  3. Access Development

    In order to help English faculty, students, and staff locate the research materials they need, the University of Connecticut Libraries uses a combination of local collections, licensed electronic products, subject and program-based web links, current awareness services, interlibrary loan and document delivery.

    1. Relevant Indexes, Abstracts, Library Catalogs and Bibliographic Utilities

      The major indexes in the fields of English and American Literature and Post Colonial Literatures in English are the MLA International Bibliography, ABELL, and the American Humanities Index. Additional relevant databases include America: History and Life / Historical Abstracts; ArchivesUSA; Dictionary of Old English Corpus; Galenet; InfoTrac; ITER; JSTOR; Middle English Compendium; MUSE; Poole’s Plus; Women Writers. Some of these have no paper counterparts; others are exact facsimiles of paper publications. All are electronically accessible and are accessible via hyperlinks from various webpages on the University of Connecticut Libraries’ servers; all are restricted to the University of Connecticut domain. VPN accounts provide access to these and other databases for faculty and students who are using internet service providers other than the University of Connecticut’s Computer Center. These sources taken collectively and used properly are adequate in providing access to the literature of the discipline. These sources are also essential for providing access to materials and literatures that cannot be browsed locally but can be obtained through document delivery / Interlibrary Loan.

      Print indexes to a handful of the above products are still being produced but are no longer purchased. They are not missed.

    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. Other Internet-based resources

      As in other areas of academic study, there are a number of ambitious projects that are attempting to make significant primary sources available via the WWW. A number of these are referenced from the Library Liaison's English subject web page at: www.lib.uconn.edu/research/bysubject/engweb.html.

      Fulltext access to contemporary primary works has hitherto been limited by copyright restrictions. Recent changes in publishers’ contracts and the advent of such commercial resources as NetLibrary.com and Questia.com are making more primary works electronically accessible.

    4. Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan

      The Document Delivery / Interlibrary Loan (DD/ILL) services are essential to the Department of English. The data provided by DD/ILL are actively considered in relation to journal purchase decisions; at one time DD/ILL book request forms were examined and accessible monographs were purchased, and it is to be regretted that this can no longer be done.

      In 1999-2000, the Department of English accounted for 6% of the total number of DD/ILL requests: 168 were from faculty and 273 were from graduate students.

      Comparable transaction totals:
      History 6% total; 138 faculty; 254 graduate students.
      Psychology: 5% total; 46 faculty; 213 graduate students; 97 staff.

      The multi-disciplinary interests of faculty and graduate students help to explain this total. However, the Library believes that a significant number of the requests were generated by relatively few people: one faculty member is examining different editions of contemporary anthologies (i.e., various Norton anthologies, various Longman readers, and so forth) to determine the ways in which a canon of contemporary texts is being created. She does not want the Babbidge Library to purchase these anthologies but orders them by the score. This is a very appropriate use of DD/ILL services enabling the Library to support one-time projects and individual specialized research needs.


IV. Emerging Choices

Electronic journals
The long-term availability of the key electronic indexes is stable: in brief, the prospects of the MLA International Bibliography are good. Nevertheless, I foresee a potential conflict arising from such full-text resources as MUSE and JSTOR. These resources offer superior indexing and thus provide better access to their contents than does the MLA. An academic library faced with having to pay for a resource that indexes many things inadequately and offers full-text only through the intermediary of another program (i.e., Silverlinker) or that offers superb indexing to a significant number of full-text resources, may opt for the latter.

Despite the resources offered by JSTOR and MUSE, relatively few relevant humanities journals are likely to be fully electronically accessible within the next two years. It is nevertheless expected that within the next ten years many of the hitherto paper journal subscriptions will become electronic; and whether or not print journals are traded for electronic journals will depend on such factors as the cost and the continuing relevance of the journal to the Department of English.

As in other areas of academic study, concern about permanency and archival access may outweigh the virtues of distributed access. The value of reliable long-term access to journal literature remains great.

Non-print media
It must be also be mentioned that the field of English and American Literature as a whole evidences an increasing usage and reliance on non-print media -- audio, video, electronic books - to initiate and further research. Subscriptions to such non-print reference sources as the Dictionary of Old English Corpus, the Middle English Compendium, and electronic versions of print journals as JSTOR and MUSE, are common and unexceptional. Electronic editions of monographs are routinely published through such sources as Netlibrary.com as well as through individual publishers (i.e., the 1997 Robert Frost: Poems, Life, Legacy, a CD-ROM published by Henry Holt.). In one recent and well-publicized case, a heavily used paper resource - The MLA Directory of Periodicals - ceased to be published in paper and became accessible only through electronic means. Additional such shifts in accessibility are anticipated. However, we will need to closely monitor expenditures in this area so not to seriously encroach on the monograph’s budgets.

Although non-print media are being increasingly developed and used, there has been no abandoning of the traditional paper resources, nor has there been anything approaching a wholesale abandonment of the traditional indexes used for learning of their availability and for accessing their contents. The MLA International Bibliography remains a major general reference resource, and it is still published in paper as well as made electronically accessible; the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (ABELL) is also published in paper as well as made electronically accessible; the Oxford English Dictionary remains the major general-interest dictionary, and so forth.

The future of collecting to support the English Department in a changing information economy
Both continuing inflation in the unit cost of print and electronic publications, and expanding demand for new products and services are anticipated. The Libraries do not expect the University to solve this problem by increasing the Libraries' share of limited University resources. The Libraries hope for a continuation of the current level of support, but cannot regard it as guaranteed. Increasingly though, measures of user behavior: circulation by classification and patron affiliation; database use; and ILL/document delivery activity will play a role in budget decision-making.

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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