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University of Connecticut University Libraries

Collection Development and Access Plan:
Geography

Prepared by Patrick McGlamery, November 2003; Revised by Sarah Mindel, May 2006

Purpose:

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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 the Depatment of Geography. Second, it outlines how existing local collections, networked electronic services, and document deliveries are being utilized to meet the bibliographic needs of Geography. Third, it provides the faculty of Geography 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:

  1. Characteristics of the Community
  2. Collections Budget Expenditure Patterns
  3. Current Patterns of Information Service
  4. Emerging Choices

I. Characteristics of the Community

The programs within the Department of Geography are strategic to the long term economic and environmental health and welfare of the State of Connecticut. The Department has grown in the past ten years with the addition of the Ph.D. program, in the number of faculty and students, and the growth of its research centers.

Department Profile (2005-2006 Academic Term, statistics from the Department of Geography):
Faculty: 14
Emeritus: 1
Staff: 2
Master's Candidates: 10
Doctoral Candidates: 9
Undergraduate Majors: Fall 2005, 32; Spring 2006, 37

The Graduate Program: The Geography Department offers programs of graduate study leading to the Master of Arts (M.A.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees.

The program leading toward the M.A. in Geography provides study of the theory and methods of analysis of human and physical features of the earth's surface. Students take a small number of core courses in research methods and design, and select an area of specialization for the remainder of their course work. Examples of common specializations include geographic information systems (GIS) and computer graphics, environmental management and planning, and urban and regional analysis. Other specializations in areas of faculty expertise are possible. Students, working with their advisors and graduate committees, have a good opportunity to select courses, which best fit their intellectual interests and professional needs.

The Ph.D. degree program involves a four-year course of study that requires 43 credit hours beyond the Master's degree, the satisfactory completion of written and oral comprehensive examinations, and the satisfactory completion of a doctoral dissertation.

Undergraduate Program: Each student, in conjunction with a departmental advisor, has the flexibility to tailor a program to his or her individual objectives. However, three sequences of courses are recommended to complete the core 12 credits required. These sequences or tracks are only suggestions for major programs based on common patterns elected by previous students and on the specializations of faculty. Suggested tracks are:

  • Human Geography track and Urban-Economic Systems
  • Urban and Social Analysis Track
  • Physical Geography and Environmental Systems
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Regional Analysis and Policy Track

Geography minors are also available. Students minoring in geography have two required courses (3 credits each) and an additional nine credits. Students minoring in GIS must complete 15 credits including six required credits and nine credits chosen from a list.

Faculty research and publications focus on a wide range of specialties including: economic geography, regional economic change and development, cultural geography, transportation studies, urban studies, sub-urbanization, population concentration and migration patterns (both national and international), location theory and industrial geography, computer cartographics and GIS, environment & health, human geography, fluvial geomorphology, structural geology, environmental hydrology, quantitative methods, remote sensing, ocean optics, environmental studies, geographic education, biogeography, climatology, and wetland management.

II. Collections Budget Expenditure Patterns

Part of the Library allocation is expended annually, exclusively for scholarly information resources to support teaching and research of the Department of Geography. To mention a specific amount would be misleading. Because of the diversity and interdisciplinary nature of many of the programs within Geography, the Department benefits greatly from the allocations in related programs in the sciences. In particular, Geography benefits by the Library's support of related programs such as Natural Resources Management and Engineering (NRME), Economics, Sociology, and Allied Health. Some of the electronic networked databases, which enhance bibliographic access for Geography members, include: INSPEC, Agricola, EconLit, Sociological Abstracts, CINAHL, Infotrac, and, Wilson Web.

III. Current Patterns of Information Service

  1. Characteristics of the Literature

    Journals and other serially-published materials are the basis of research in the social sciences. Geography research relies on a very broad range of journal literature. Most scientific journal literature has an effective "half life" of five to ten years. Some research materials in paper and other non-digital formats will remain important for the foreseeable future, particularly since the archiving of journal articles in electronic format is not yet assured by many distributors of this format. Book materials will continue to be used by the students and, to a degree, by the faculty within Geography.

  2. Collection Development
    1. Areas of Focus

      Material is selected to support the professional and research programs of the Department described under Section I. The major areas of research will be supported with purchases of appropriate journals, books, indexes, electronic access to information, and document delivery/interlibrary loans (DD/ILL).

    2. Acquisition Strategies
      1. Monographs

        The University of Connecticut Libraries uses the approval plan services of Yankee Book Peddler to supply the bulk of new monographs. Books are received based on a profile that is specific in coverage for Geography. Notify slips are provided for items that fall outside the profile but which may be of interest. Some titles are selected and ordered from these slips. Publishers who do not discount to Yankee or produce fewer than five titles a year are not covered. In addition, catalogs from publishers and reviews from various sources are consulted for other materials that might be added to the collections. Specific suggestions from library users, including students and faculty, are always given full consideration.

        Textbooks, popular reading, guide books, examinations, laboratory manuals, software and hardware manuals are generally not collected. Dissertations must be specifically requested for purchased.

      2. Journals

        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 Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (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.

        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 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. See below for a discussion of the more fluid situation of electronic journals.

      3. Other Media

        Within the Library, many specific needs for Geography are provided through the Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC), the University of Connecticut's Map Library. The Library supports resources and services within MAGIC, such as GIS data, geospatial data, and current and historic map collections.

  3. Access Development

    In order to help Geography researchers locate the research materials they need, the University of Connecticut Libraries will use a combination of local collections, licensed electronic products, subject and program-based Web links, current awareness services, and DD/ILL.

    1. Relevant Indexes, Abstracts, Library Catalogs, and Bibliographic Utilities

      The current compliment of general electronic indexing, abstracting, full-text services, and current awareness services, as well as those specific to Geography, provided by the Library seems sufficient to meet the above stated objective.

    2. Electronic Journals (e-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 began 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 e-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, e-journals can be hotlinked to Web-based indexes like Web of Science, and the electronic resources listed above. Additionally, the Library’s e-journal locator facilitates the identification of specific e-journal titles "owned" by the Library (i.e., accessible via the University Internet domain, ".uconn.edu".)

    3. Other Internet-based resources

      The library liaison to the Department of Geography maintains a Web page that organizes and promotes a wide range of electronic resources for Geography including locally licensed indexing/abstracting services and full-text resources located at: /research/bysubject/Geography.htm. The liaison welcomes comments on improvements to the page and/or additional sites, which should be listed.

    4. Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan (DD/ILL)

      DD/ILL is an integral part of all our collection development and access plans. DD/ILL data is actively considered in relation to both journal purchase decisions and collection budget planning. In future, data from the automated DD/ILL operations will be important in determining which journals we need to own locally or access electronically and which can be delivered from other libraries and document delivery services, in a timely and cost-effective manner.

    5. Significant Campus or External Resources

      As the literature in the sciences expands and journal subscription prices inflate at a rate greater than that of the budget, no one library is able to collect everything. We will rely more on cooperation between libraries in the form of joint purchases and licensing arrangements with regional library consortia. Hence, these factors may strongly influence what resources we provide access to and when.


IV. Emerging Choices

Journals and electronic subscriptions require an ongoing commitment and will be reviewed on an annual basis. As long as for-profit publishers dominate the distribution of the scientific literature, price increases will outrun our resources and the number of journals to which we can continue to subscribe will diminish. In fact, the Geography journal budget is almost totally absorbed by the cost of ongoing journal subscriptions. Because journals are critical for all geography research and teaching, a clear challenge in collection development for Geography is managing the journals budget and subscriptions list. The high inflation rates for Geography journals will require a serials review/cancellation project in the future.

An equally important and very closely related challenge is managing the transition to e-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 Geography faculty and students must understand that we are experimenting in the acquisition of journals in this 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 e-journals within their subject areas.

The future of collecting to support Geography in a changing information economy
The library anticipates both continuing inflation in the unit cost of print and electronic publications, and expanding demand for new products and services. We do not expect the University to solve this problem by increasing our share of its limited resources. We hope for a continuation of our current level of support, but cannot regard it as guaranteed. Increasingly, though, measures of user behavior, including circulation by classification and patron affiliation, database use, and DD/ILL activity, will play a role in budget decision-making.

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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