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University of Connecticut University Libraries

Collection Development and Access Plan:
Department of Mathematics

Prepared by Alice Fairfield, April 30, 2003


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.


  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 Department of Mathematics offers BS degrees in Mathematics, Actuarial Science, Applied Mathematics, and (with the Department of Statistics) Mathematics and Statistics; MS degrees in Mathematics, Actuarial Science, Applied Mathematics, Mathematics and Computer Science; Professional Masters in Financial Mathematics (with the Department of Statistics and the School of Business); and PhD degrees in Mathematics and Actuarial Science. All programs are accredited.

Faculty and student profile (all data as of Fall 2002):

  • 45 full-time faculty
  • 156 Statistics undergraduate majors
  • 63 Master’s degree candidates
  • 41 Doctoral candidates

Use of Library Resources:

Undergraduates mainly use handbooks and a variety of advanced textbooks to aid their studies in mathematics. Graduate students and faculty rely heavily on journals and monographs.

The Mathematics Department prefers print access to journals rather than electronic access. Many of the mathematics journals are housed in the Mathematics Reading Room, located in the Mathematics Department, so electronic access is seen as a barrier rather than a convenience. In addition, information in mathematics rarely becomes dated, so archival access is an important issue, and print subscriptions are viewed as providing the most secure archival access. The Department relies heavily on online databases such as MathSciNet and the Current Index to Statistics to search the journal literature.

II. Collections Budget Expenditure Patterns

  • Total funds allocated for journals and monographs (4/2003).
  • $97,000
  • Total journal expenditures (4/2003)
  • $90,392
  • 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 Mathematics include: MathSciNet and Current Index to Statistics. The Library currently spends over $7,400 for these resources.

III. Current Patterns of Information Service

  1. Characteristics of the Literature

    Researchers in Mathematics depend heavily on journal literature. Since research in mathematics does not generally become outdated, access to older material is as important as access to current material. Publishing in Mathematics is divided between commercial publishers and scholarly organizations. Generally speaking, the scholarly organization published journals are the better value, in terms of articles and use, but this is somewhat deceiving since the use of a particular journal varies with the size of the research population in the particular sub-discipline and for many sub-disciplines, their major journals are only available from commercial publishers.

    Monographs in Mathematics are usually involved treatments of a particular topic, reference handbooks of tables, or advanced textbooks meant for the professional mathematician. As with the journal literature, they rarely become outdated.

  2. Collection Development
    1. Areas of Focus

      The Mathematics Department has several areas of focus. In addition to the broader areas indicated by the degrees offered, faculty and students within the Department are doing research in the areas of algebra and number theory, analysis and probability, geometric analysis, topology and geometry, and mathematical logic.

      The Library collects mainly research level monographs. Handbooks and graduate level textbooks are also purchased on a more selective basis. Conference proceedings are rarely purchased unless of great relevance to current research or are representative of work performed at the University.

    2. Acquisition Strategies
      1. Monographs

        The University of Connecticut Libraries uses the approval plan services of Yankee Book Peddler to supply the bulk of new monographs. Books are received based on a profile that is broad in coverage for Mathematics. Notify slips are provided for items that fall outside the profile but which may be of interest. Some titles are selected and ordered from these slips. Publishers who do not discount to Yankee or produce less than five titles a year are not covered. In addition, catalogs from publishers and reviews from various sources are consulted for other materials that might be added to the collections. Specific suggestions from library users, including students and faculty, are always given full consideration.

        Textbooks, popular reading, guide books, examinations, laboratory manuals, software and hardware manuals are generally not collected. Dissertations must be specifically requested for purchased.

        Book series can be purchased, but, as they represent an ongoing commitment of resources, can be subject to cancellation as with journals.

      2. Journals

        The Mathematics journal budget is almost 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. Expensive new title requests generally respond to 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.

        The extremely high inflation rates for Mathematics journals have made regular serial cuts a painful necessity in recent years. 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. See below for a discussion of the more fluid situation of electronic journals.

        The Library also encourages faculty to take advantage of the Library's Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan (DD/ILL) Service, as we continue to reduce paper subscriptions due to high cost. The Library continues to make improvements to DD/ILL for efficiency and quality in our efforts to make this service a viable alternative for teaching and research needs.

        In conjunction with DD/ILL, the Library has introduced and continues to promote Current Awareness Services as an alternative means for browsing the table of contents of journals no longer on subscription as well as 1000s of other titles. Products such as Ingenta deliver relevant citations to the desktop for patron-designed profiles. In addition, a patron may order a document directly through one or the other Service, for a fee, or obtain the document using the Library's free DD/ILL Service. The turn around time for the DD/ILL has improved so that a patron may realistically expect delivery of the document within a week's time.

        In addition, the University Community is being encouraged to publish in alternative journals published by SPARC to both support alternative publications and create real competition with their commercial publishers' counterparts.

  3. Access Development

    In order to assist Mathematics researchers to locate the research materials they need, the Library will use a combination of local collections, licensed electronic products, subject and program-based web links, current awareness services, and document delivery and interlibrary loan.

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

      The current compliment of general electronic indexing, abstracting, full-text services, and current awareness services as well as those specific to Mathematics (see section Current Library Expenditures, Networked Services) provided by the Library seems sufficient to meet the above stated objective.

      The primary indexes for Mathematics are MathSciNet and Current Index to Statistics. Between the two of them, they cover the majority of the journal literature in Mathematics. Both are stable resources that have been available electronically in one form or another for quite some time. The library no longer maintains the print versions. MathSciNet and Current Index to Statistics are of high quality and provide all the information needed for placing requests through DD/ILL.

    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, "".)

    3. Other Internet-based resources

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

    4. Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan

      DD/ILL is an integral part of all our collection development and access plans. DD/ILL data is actively considered in relation to both journal purchase decisions and collection budget planning.

      In the future, data from the automated DD/ILL operations will be important in determining which journals we need to own locally or access electronically and which can be delivered from other libraries and document delivery services, in a timely and cost-effective manner.

    5. Significant Campus or external resources

      Consortial agreements have reduced the cost for accessing databases and journal packages. We have taken advantage of Consortial agreements to acquire databases such as the MathSciNet as well as online publications from Springer and Elsevier. Consortial arrangements have allowed the Library to provide desktop access to databases and online journals that would otherwise be cost prohibitive. It has become increasingly necessary for the Library to participate in consortial purchase agreements of this type. Hence, the ability to partner with other libraries in these purchases may strongly influence what resources we provide access to and when.

IV. Emerging Choices

Journal publishers are increasingly pushing for libraries to purchase electronic versions only without offering any significant savings. At some point the Library will be faced with the choice between keeping a small but highly focused print collection or providing access to a broad array of online journals, subject to the license terms of the publishers.

Key among the concerns is continual access. When the Library purchases online access, it is just that: access. Few publishers guarantee any sort of access to years of journals that the Library paid for if future budgetary constraints force the Library to cancel access. Some publishers sell back file access separate from current issue access and only consider the current five years of a journal as current, so that the Library automatically loses access to years it paid for as current issues are shifted to the back file.

Document Delivery/Interlibrary loan will become an increasingly important service to fill in archival access to journals. However as more and more Libraries are forced to make the same decision, publishers are expected to re-write their license terms to forbid such DD/ILL transactions in an attempt to combat subscription cancellations. The Library supports alternative publishing models whenever it can in an attempt to forestall this bleak future and encourages all faculty to publish in and cite from journals published by non-profit publishers whenever possible.

Because journals are critical for Mathematics research and teaching, the clearest challenge in collection development for Mathematics is managing the transition to electronic journals. There are major questions and concerns raised by this transition and no ready answers. As the Library purchases different packages and products, both library staff and Mathematics 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.

The future of collecting to support Mathematics 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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