I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the warmer weather! Despite the real arrival of spring and sun, the Reference Desk is expecting a huge pick-up in the library and in citation and research questions as we move towards the end of the semester and the due dates for final research papers.
Apart from regular work at the Desk, I am still working on the Collection Development Project, now in the online section of the project. I’ve been working a lot with MUSCAT and WorldCat, trying to discover how many copies of the Parkin books are available in other libraries and to see how rare each book is. Some of the books could only be found in ten or so other libraries worldwide!
After finding out how many other copies were available and making sure they were the same edition, I looked through Hathi Trust and Internet Archive for links to digitized publications of the books. Hathi Trust and Internet Archive are great sites for giving the public access to older books, specifically books that are out of print and no longer under copyright law. Hathi Trust can provide a multitude of contemporary reactions to events like World War I or the Spanish-American War for interested scholars. In our collection development, we were looking to see if Parkin’s books could be found in digital publication in order to make a decision about moving rarer books upstairs into Special Collections.
Finally, I move onto searching for the books through Amazon. Amazon is very much a “buyer-beware” for collection development; many of the offered copies for these older books are cheaply produced print-outs of the digital publications. On Amazon, I have to look for later editions of these books and avoid the digital reprints and other first edition copies.
Collection development often feels like a balancing act. Older and unused books take up space on the shelves and some of these books are damaged and would be safer in Special Collections. However, we still want to keep these books accessible to the patrons and so we look for digital publications or new editions in order to do so.
After the Collection Development Project, I will be working with Alexa on the Finals Week Study Break! Everyone should come (there will be free ice cream!) to de-stress and catch a breath from studying for final exams!