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Electronic Collection Management Forms, Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines Manual with CD-ROM.
New York, NY: Neal-Schuman Publishers. 2009. 503 p. $ 149.95 ISBN: 978-1-55570-663-0.
In this comprehensive collection, Rebecca Brumley has added substantially to the “don't-reinvent-the-wheel” genre for library administrators. As the profession steadily moves toward the electronic future, librarians find ourselves in largely unmapped territory. Once we bought books and journals; now we license electronic publications and databases. Whereas we once lent our materials to patrons, we now provide “access.” Patrons came into our libraries in the past; now they use our resources from many locations. The primary library technology for generations was printing on paper (and more recently photocopying); now we have CD-ROMS, personal computers, electronic databases and publications, digital archives, portable document format (PDF) files, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and more. Libraries were largely self-contained; now they are nodes on the Internet. Once the patron was responsible for using published materials appropriately; today, we share some of that burden. Everything is easier in the electronic era, and much harder. What new strategies and polices do we need to implement to thrive in our new and continuously changing world?
To help librarians cope, Brumley has culled more than 600 policy statements, procedures, and forms from 175 academic, public, and special libraries, mostly in the United States. The selections range from 1-paragraph mission statements to guidelines spanning several pages. The book is organized into 9 broad areas: administration, collection development, electronic equipment and hardware, access to electronic resources, related library services, legal safeguards, issues of special interest to public libraries, today's top job descriptions, and treasury of recommended forms. Each section is divided into chapters covering specific areas of interest, and the chapters are subdivided into specific topics, with 1 or more documents in each. For example, section IV, “Access to Electronic Resources,” comprises 4 chapters: “Access Guidelines,” “Access Options,” “User Access Fundamentals,” and “Wireless Access.” The “fundamentals” chapter has four subsections: acceptable and unacceptable use of electronic resources, passwords, responsible use of licensed resources, and user rights.
It is hard to be comprehensive in our rapidly changing world, but Brumley has come close. She covers electronic resources plans, collection development, user access guidelines, staff responsibilities, equipment and hardware management, and copyright and licensing issues. The “Related Library Services” section includes such topics as priorities for electronic classroom use, student links on library web pages, fines and fees for lost or damaged electronic materials, virtual reference, and library blogs. There is even a chapter under “equipment” with policies on digital cameras and digital crawl signage.
The librarian who consults this book will have a specific issue or need in mind and will want to find the relevant information quickly. The best place to begin is the author's preface, in which she provides an annotated version of the table of contents, describing clearly what each section includes. The book also has an index, but many of the entries merely duplicate the section headings in the table of contents. Some potentially useful information is not indexed; for example, the discussion of copyright under “electronic reserves” on page 188 does not appear under “copyright” or under “reserve material” in the index. By their nature, these documents do not always fit neatly into pigeonholes, and more thorough indexing would have enhanced the book.
The accompanying CD-ROM includes the complete book in a series of PDF files. Some contain additional documents not printed in the book, as noted at various points in the text. The CD is supposed to run automatically on a Windows PC but, if it does not, the user can use the Index.html file, which is a clickable index of the entire disc. The index file is arranged like the printed table of contents for easy navigation. There is also a hypertext markup language (HTML) file, “How to Use the CD-ROM.” The HTML files (including the copyright notice) launch the Firefox browser but will also open with Internet Explorer. The CD adds value to the book in several ways. First, it allows the inclusion of material not printed in the text because of space limitations. Second, providing the materials in electronic format enables the reader to copy or adapt them, though this would be easier if they were not PDFs. Third, the list of contributing library websites includes hyperlinks that facilitate more detailed information if the reader wishes it. Unfortunately, although the author accessed all of the pages between June 2008 and March 2009, many of the links already seem to be dead when the reviewer checked them. Finally, the CD includes a file called “Search ECM,” actually a single PDF document of the entire book, that makes it possible to find details not listed in the book's index. However, some terms show up in a search, but others do not.
Writing good policies, procedures, and job descriptions can be fiendishly difficult and time consuming. Brumley has done librarians a true service by compiling this collection of “wheels” devised by those who have preceded us. The Electronic Collection Management Forms, Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines Manual is an encyclopedia and not a textbook, but its pages contain many valuable nuggets, such as reminders to include walk-in users in the definition of authorized users (p. 122) and the importance of preserving fair use and interlibrary loan when licensing electronic products (p. 103). The author does recommend reading the “Administration” section straight through, and its three chapters are a good introduction to the planning process. The rest of the book is meant to be consumed a la carte.
This book has its flaws. There are occasional misprints. The topical arrangement means that documents are out of their normal context. Many statements refer to other statements that precede or follow them, or to other policies, but other than the bonus materials on the CD-ROM, readers have no way to know if or where they may be found. Cross-references or see also references in the text would have helped. Printing the library names with a different font or indention would have made the text easier to read. As for the bonus documents, nothing on the CD-ROM identifies them, so it behooves the reader to consult the CD upon seeing the bonus notices in the text.
We live in the age of “permanent beta,” and none of these shortcomings significantly limit the usefulness of Brumley's collection. Whether or not these examples illustrate best practices in electronic library management, and Brumley never explains her “rigorous” selection process, they do represent the knowledge, experience, and work of many seasoned librarians. The Electronic Collection Management Forms, Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines Manual can be a time-saver for administrators, department heads, and specialists in all types of libraries. Although the book contains contributions from several medical institutions, none of the materials relate specifically to health sciences libraries. Medical librarians may want to consult the Medical Library Association's DocKit #3, Collection Development and Management for Electronic, Audiovisual, and Print Resources in Health Sciences Libraries (2nd revised edition, 2004), although Brumley's book is newer and more comprehensive.