20 January 2021 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Supplied
Dr Anamika Megwalu, an assessment and engineering librarian at San Jose State University in California in the United States (US), addressed a group of staff from the UFS Department of Library and Information Services.

Dr Anamika Megwalu, an assessment and engineering librarian at San Jose State University in California in the United States (US), pointed out that building a lasting and sustainable relationship with departments and upholding quality in the library environment is key. 

She addressed a group of colleagues from our Department of Library and Information Services (LIS) on 25 November 2020.

Tight budgets call for proper assessment

Her presentation, titled Library Collection Development, was aimed at sharing her experience of working in the collection development and liaison sections within the LIS ecosystem. 

“This librarian-cum-computer science lecturer has the benefit of both worlds, having worked in private and public academic libraries such as Stafford University and City University of New York respectively,” says Monde Madiba, Deputy Director: Collection Development and Management of LIS at the University of the Free State.

San Jose, the oldest public university in the western US, is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, serving more than 33 000 students enrolled in 10 colleges and 67 departments.

According to Dr Megwalu, the tight budgets that public academic libraries such as San Jose receive, call for proper assessment of library collections in order to deal with the constraints. She emphasised the need to “uphold quality within the constraints”.

Moving from collecting information to creating information

Some of the ideas that Dr Megwalu shared for conducting assessment and collection development, includes the following:
• Change the library’s image from being a collector of information to being the creator of information.
• Consider the size of the different departments: some may need little or no attention due to size, while others may need close attention due to intensive research by lecturers within the department.
• Identify gaps and focus your attention on filling them with the relevant collection.
• Make sure that you are aware of the accreditation period of different programmes, since the role that academic libraries play in collection development is recognised by such agencies.
• Build a lasting and sustainable relationship with departments. This includes knowing the lecturers’ research interests, assisting the newly established departments, attending free webinars, and participating in student activities.
• Ensure equal distribution of the budget and ensure that everyone has equal access to it.
• Create a timetable where everyone knows when to submit requests for prescribed books. Make it clear that it takes approximately three weeks on average for ordered books to be delivered.
• Develop department-specific collection development policies.
• Be ready to move with the times, e.g. replace DVDs in favour of video-streaming services.
• Shift towards a 100% electronic reference collection.
• Consider having an electronic version for popular but currently in-print collections.
• Develop an indigenous collection based on the contributions of communities around the university.
• Create a portal for open educational resources (OERs) from participating institutions across the globe.

“Dr Megwalu’s presentation was not only informative but a testimony that collection development and assessment are dynamic and driven by passion and love,” says Madiba.

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