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University of Connecticut University Libraries

Collection Development and Access Plan:
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Prepared by Carolyn Mills, January 2001. DRAFT: For review by the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Department (EEB), Spring 2001.

Purpose:

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.

Contents:

I. Characteristics of the Community
II. Collections Budget Expenditure Patterns
III. Current Patterns of Information Service
IV. Emerging Choices

I. Characteristics of the Community

  • Degree Programs
  • Undergraduate Program:
  • Biological Sciences Major, B.S. or B.A., offered jointly by all three biology departments.
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, B.S. or B.A.
  • Environmental Biology Concentration, B.S. or B.A.
  • Graduate Degree Program: M.S. or Ph.D. Major areas of research: botany, ecology, entomology, zoology, and evolutionary biology
  • Faculty:
  • 30 full time faculty, including three at regionals (Waterbury, Stamford and Hartford)
  • 4 emeritus faculty
  • 6 adjunct faculty
  • 9 joint appointments (with Marine Biology, MCB and the Natural History Museum)
  • Students
  • 443 Biology undergraduates (Fall 1998)
  • 38 EEB undergraduates (Fall 1998)
  • 5 Masters (Spring 2000)
  • 45 Doctoral (Spring 2000)
  • Faculty Research Areas:
  • 5 Animal Behavior
  • 5 Aquatic Biology and Limnology
  • 3 Biogeography
  • 4 Community Ecology
  • 2 Ecosystems Ecology
  • 4 Entomology
  • 1 Ethnobotany
  • 6 Evolution
  • 4 Herpetology
  • 1 Ichthyology
  • 5 Insect Systematics & Evolution
  • 3 Marine Biology and Ecology
  • 4 Molecular Systematics & Evolution
  • 1 Ornithology
  • 1 Parasitology
  • 2 Phycology
  • 4 Physiological Ecology
  • 4 Plant Morphology and Anatomy
  • 5 Plant Systematics and Taxonomy
  • 3 Population Biology and Ecology
  • 2 Population and Quantitative Genetics
  • 1 Theoretical Ecology and Biology
  • 3 Theoretical Systematics
  • 2 Vertebrate Functional Morphology

The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department lost a number of important faculty due to early retirement in 1997. During the past three years new faculty have been hired in behavioral biology and entomology, ecosystem ecology, bryology, phycology, zoological evolution and systematics, botanical phylogentics, and ornithology.

II. Collections Budget Expenditure Patterns

1999-2000 Collections Budget     $361,511*

*Note that this is the budget for all three biology departments, there is no individual EEB budget. This does not include electronic products.

Serials     $324,756 (journals and continuation series)

Monographs   $ 36,755 (approval & firm order books, and continuation sets)

Approximately 10% of the collections budget is reserved for monograph purchases. The remaining 90% goes for journals and continuation series. In the 1999-2000 budget year, $10,000 was added to the journal budget, in recognition of the fact that the biology departments are priority programs, so that new titles could be added. These additions reflect the shifting of research interests as new faculty have been added to all the biology departments.

 

Electronic Products For Biology:

  • $11,699 Biological Sciences Collection from CSA
  • $47,000 BIOSIS current file with 5 simultaneous users
  • $4,500 JSTOR Ecology & Botany archival collection

Other Electronic Products which Support Biology:

  • Web of Science
  • Basic Biosis and Biology Digest (via FirstSearch)
  • Medline
  • Wilson WebBiological and Agricultural Index
  • Agricola

III. Current Patterns of Information Service

A. Characteristics of the Literature

In biology, journals are the life-blood of research. Ecology and evolutionary biology relies on a very broad range of journal literature, much of which comes from museums, research centers and specialist societies from around the world. Although scientific journal literature is most frequently used during the first five to ten years after publication, access to older issues remains important for researchers in EEB.

While inflation patterns in biology journals, in general, are very high, the journals needed by researchers and students in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology are most often published by society or not-for-profit publishers, and tend to have both lower prices and more modest inflation rates.

B. Collection Development

1. Areas of Focus

The Library supports collection development in all major areas of ecology, evolution, botany and zoology, with special attention to those areas outlined as important for faculty research (see Section 1.) Collection development in all mediums is focused on the needs of instruction and current research.

2. Acquisition Strategies

A. Monographs
The University of Connecticut uses the Yankee Book Peddler Approval Slip Plan, which covers US scholarly and trade publishers plus their Canadian and British equivalents, which directly distribute in the US. The subject focus outlined in the approval plan profile is quite broad for biology, ensuring we receive or are notified about most currently published material from these sources. In addition, faculty and graduate student requests for other monographs are readily purchased, and a variety of review sources for biology monographs are regularly scanned. Formats generally not collected include introductory textbooks, examinations and study guides, field identification guides and laboratory manuals.

Natural history writing is collected from Library general humanities funds.

B. Journals
The biology journal budget is 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 biology 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 and 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. Because the journals needed by EEB researchers are often published by society or not-for-profit publishers, and have lower costs and inflation rates, they have been retained in greater numbers than has been possible in other fields. See below for a discussion of the more fluid situation electronic journals.

C. Access Development

  1. Relevant Indexes, Abstracts, Library Catalogs and Bibliographic Utilities
    The Library, as part of a consortial agreement with other Connecticut libraries, has recently contracted to acquire access to Biosis, the leading indexing service for the biological sciences. Other indexes and abstracts, such as the CSA Biological Science Collection and Web of Science, provide additional coverage for many areas of biology. Botany is covered well in Agricola. Zoological Record provides good coverage for Zoology though we have only print access at this time. Current awareness resources such as Current Contents and UnCover Reveal are also used by many faculty and graduate students to identify new work in their areas of research. The library is currently evaluating the value of these two services and would welcome input from faculty on this matter.

    In order to assist EEB faculty and students to locate the research materials they need, the Library will continue to use a combination of local collections, licensed electronic products, subject and program-based web links, current-awareness services, and document delivery and interlibrary loan. The current compliment of general electronic indexing, abstracting, full-text services, and current awareness services as well as those specific to Biology provided by the Library seems adequate to meet this objective.

  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, ".uconn.edu".)

  3. Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan
    Provision of dependable, accessible DD/ILL services are crucial for all the sciences when considering collection development issues. As in other areas of science, regular biology serial cancellations in the face of increasing subscription costs will continue to force greater reliance on DD/ILL services. In recent years EEB faculty and graduate students have been heavy users of DD/ILL services and that will continue. As the technology improves for transmitting text and graphics, and for routing, tracking, and automating request traffic, DD/ILL services will become a more accepted and valued part of collection development for EEB faculty and graduate students. The recent advent of the electronic request form makes this information provision option more accessible than ever. The imminent arrival of the Prospero software, which allows article requests to be stored on a library server and accessed remotely by users, will be a welcome addition to EEB faculty and students. Additionally, statistics from DD/ILL requests will be valuable in helping to determine which journals should be held locally and which are best accessed remotely.

    The acquisition of information via DD/ILL must increasingly be seen as an acceptable alternative mode of access to information in biology. However, the Library is cognizant of a variety of reasons why in EEB particularly it is certainly less desirable than local ownership of the print journal: 1) journal articles in EEB are often long and monographic in nature, running 50 or more pages; 2) critical graphics reproduction is still frequently poor via facsimile; 3) DD/ILL services timeframes often frustrate those who must prepare grant proposals against tight deadlines; 4) even DD/ILL has difficulty supplying some of the scarce specialized titles needed by EEB researchers.

IV. Emerging Choices

The Library's fund allocations tend to lump rather then split. Biology shares with Business, Communications, Education and other areas, an arrangement under which three departments, with related but sometimes conflicting interests and needs, all operate out of one budget. If the Departments feel that disaggregating all costs into multiple budgets will work better, the Biology liaison is willing to work with the departments toward that end. It is not immediately clear, however, that competition over scarce resources, will be made any less difficult by creating three or four smaller, and possibly less flexible, pots of money.

The Library is very pleased to have finally negotiated a sustainable arrangement for the provision of Biosis to users across our entire system. As we add back files to Biosis we will be taking a close look at whether continuing our commitment to the life sciences components of Cambridge Scientific Abstracts remains justifiable.

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

In order to assist EEB faculty and students to locate the research materials they need, the Library will continue to use a combination of local collections, licensed electronic products, subject and program-based web links, current-awareness services, and document delivery and interlibrary loan. Our current compliment of electronic and print collections and services is clearly superior to where we were a couple of years ago. With your help, cooperation and understanding, we trust we will be saying something similar in our next revision of this document.

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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