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Collection Assessment

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IV. Collection Assessment

A. General Policy

The Libraries have adopted the conspectus approach to collection assessment. The Pacific Northwest Conspectus (PNW) adopted and modified by the Washington Library Network (WLN) and METRO was found to be the most suitable to St. John's University Libraries' collection assessment needs.

As part of collection management, the Libraries analyze and describe their collections using both qualitative and quantitative methods. Collection assessment is based upon the description of the subject levels and formats available. This process provides information about the collection's age, scope, languages, formats, etc., and helps to determine the collection level, acquisition commitment, and collection' goal. The assessment is essential to the process of collection evaluation, i.e., judging the collection's appropriateness in support of the academic program.

The future plans are to evaluate and implement automated collection assessment, such as OCLC Comparative Collection Assessment tool.

B. Collection Codes: Definitions

Collection Level/Current Collection

Describes the strength of the existing collection relative to the available literature in a particular subject area. It includes materials in all formats (digital, monographs, periodicals, government documents, microforms, media, etc.). It reflects those materials that are cataloged and uncataloged in special collections, non-circulating, and circulating materials. An assessment of the current collection provides a description of the libraries' total resources.

Acquisitions Commitment

Reflects the current level of activity at which the collection is being developed, not the level recommended by Collection Development Policy. "Current," means the time period during which collection activity (acquiring, removal) is being examined.

Collection Goal

Designates the current and anticipated need of the collection based on the Libraries' mission, programs and clientele. This designation reflects changes in curriculum which influence the Libraries' support.

C. Collection Levels: Codes and Definitions

To report collection level, acquisitions commitment, and collection goal, the collection level indicator scale, ranging from 0 -" Out of Scope", to 5 - "Comprehensive" is used. Each level has a standard code that describes the kind of activities that can be supported by that collection level. The codes are defined below:

0 Out of Scope: The Library does not collect in this subject.

1 Minimal Level: A subject area in which few selections are made beyond very basic works. A collection at this level is frequently and systematically reviewed for currency of information. Superseded editions and titles containing outdated information are withdrawn.

1a Minimal Level, Uneven Coverage: Few selections are made, and there is unsystematic representation of subject. [For children's materials, the Library provides a small sampling or browsing collection.]

1b Minimal Level, Even Coverage: Few selections are made, but basic authors, some core works, or a spectrum of ideological views are represented. [For children's' collection, the library provides a small selection of important authors and standard titles. Subject coverage is sufficient to meeting children's basic information needs.]

2 Basic Information Level: A selective collection of materials that serves to introduce and define a subject and to indicate the varieties of information available elsewhere. It may include dictionaries, encyclopedias, access to appropriate bibliographic databases, selected editions of important works, historical surveys, bibliographies, handbooks, and a few major periodicals. The collection is frequently and systematically reviewed for currency of information. [For childrens' collection, this level's subject coverage is sufficient to meet the needs of most elementary school homework assignments.]

2a Basic Information Level, Introductory: The emphasis at this level is on providing resources that introduce and define a subject. A collection at this level includes basic reference tools and explanatory works, such as textbooks; historical descriptions of the subject's development; general works devoted to major topics and figures in the field; and selective major periodicals. The introductory level of a basic information collection is only sufficient to support patrons attempting to locate general information about a subject or students enrolled in introductory level courses. [For children's collection, includes most works by important authors, and a sampling of works by secondary authors.]

2b Basic Information Level, Advanced: At the advanced level, basic information about a subject is provided on a wider range of topics and with more depth. There is a broader selection of basic explanatory works, historical descriptions, reference tools, and periodicals that serve to introduce and define a subject. An advanced basic information level is sufficient to support students in basic courses as well as supporting the basic information needs of patrons in public and special libraries. [For children's collection, there is a greater representation of secondary authors and titles. Basic subject coverage is provided on a wider range of topics and with more depth.]

3 Study or Instructional Support Level: A collection that is adequate to impart and maintain knowledge about a subject in a systematic way but at a level of less than research intensity. The collection includes a wide range of basic works in appropriate formats, a significant number of classic retrospective materials, complete collections of the works of more important writers, selections from the works of secondary writers, a selection of representative journals, access to appropriate machine-readable data files, and the reference tools and fundamental bibliographical apparatus pertaining to the subject. At the study or instructional support level, a collection is adequate to support independent study and most learning needs of the clientele of public and special libraries, as well as undergraduate and some graduate instruction. The collection is systematically reviewed for currency of information and to assure that essential and significant information is retained. [For children's collection, the library retains older materials, as well as the bibliographies, guides, and periodicals needed to support inquiries by teachers and others interested in the field of children's literature.]

3a Study or Instructional Support Level, Introductory: This subdivision of level 3 collection provides resources adequate for imparting and maintaining knowledge about the basic or primary topics of a subject area. The collection includes a broad range of basic works in appropriate formats, classic retrospective materials, all key journals on primary topics, selected journals and seminal works on secondary topics, access to appropriate machine-readable data files and the reference tools and fundamental bibliographical apparatus pertaining to the subject. This subdivision of level 3 supports undergraduate courses, including advanced undergraduate courses, as well as most independent study needs of the clientele of public and special libraries. It is not adequate to support master's degree programs.

3b Study or Instructional Support Level, Advanced: The advanced subdivision of level 3 provides resources adequate for imparting and maintaining knowledge about the primary and secondary topics of a subject area. The collection includes a significant number of seminal works and journals on the primary and secondary topics in the field; a significant number of retrospective materials; a substantial collection of works by secondary figures; works that provide more in-depth discussions of research, techniques, and evaluation; access to appropriate machine-readable data files; and reference tools and fundamental bibliographic apparatus pertaining to the subject. This level supports all courses of undergraduate study and master's degree programs as well as the more advanced independent study needs of the patrons of public and special libraries.

4 Research Level: A collection that includes the major published source materials required for dissertation and independent research, including materials containing research reporting, new findings, scientific experimental results, and other information useful to researchers. It is intended to include all important reference works and a wide selection of specialized monographs, as well as a very extensive collection of journals and major indexing and abstracting services in the field. Pertinent foreign language materials are included. Older material is usually retained for historical research and actively preserved. A collection at this level supports doctoral and other original research.

5 Comprehensive Level: A collection in which a library endeavors, so far as it is reasonably possible, to include all significant works of recorded knowledge (publications, manuscripts, other forms), in all applicable languages, for a necessarily defined and limited field. This level of collection intensity is one that maintains a "special collection"; the aim, if not the achievement, is exhaustiveness. Older material is retained for historical research with active preservation efforts.

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