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University of Connecticut University Libraries

Collection Development and Access Plan:
School of Engineering

Prepared by Alice Fairfield, DATE: 4/30/2002
DRAFT for review by the School of Engineering


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.


  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 School of Engineering, through its six departments, offers BS or BSE degrees in Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Computer Science, Computer Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Engineering Physics, Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials Engineering, Management and Engineering for Manufacturing; MS and PhD degrees in Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering (Geotechnical Engineering, Structural Engineering, Transportation Engineering), Computer Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgy and Materials Engineering, Materials Science; MS degrees in Civil Engineering (Professional Practice), Environmental Engineering (Professional Practice); and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering (Applied Mechanics, Fluid Dynamics).

All programs are, or are in the process of being, accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

There are a total of 83 full-time Engineering faculty, 77 of which are located at the Storrs campus as of 1/2001.

There are a total of 981 Engineering undergraduates, 898 of which are located at the Storrs campus as of Fall 2000.

There are a total of 174 Engineering Master’s degree candidates and 236 Engineering Doctoral candidates as of Fall 2000.

Electrical Engineering and Environmental Engineering are both currently expanding their programs through new faculty hires and increased graduate student enrollment.

Use of Library Resources:

Library resources are not heavily used by Engineering Undergraduates until their Junior and Senior years, when the are expected to begin familiarizing themselves with the literature in their discipline and conduct research projects. For undergraduates, monograph sources such as handbooks and data books are essential references.

For Graduate students and the Faculty, the journal literature is the primary source of information, supplemented by handbooks and collections of data in monograph or electronic form. Online access is preferred due to distance to the library as well as general convenience. For most research, current information is of greater interest than archival access. Tools to aid in the searching of the journal literature, such as Compendex, INSPEC, Chemical Abstracts, and the Science Citation Index are vital to the success of research, particularly for the Graduate student conducting a literature review prior to beginning work on his or her dissertation.

Graduate students and the Faculty occasionally require non-journal, non-monographic information, such as patents or standards. In these specialized cases, access via Document Delivery is acceptable.

II. Collections Budget Expenditure Patterns

  • Total allocated funds for monographs and journals (4/2002):
  • $268,000
  • Total journal expenditures (4/2002):
  • $264,720
  • Networked Services:
  • Electronic indexing, abstracting, and full-text services purchased by the Library’s Networked Services budget (not reflected in the above figures) which primarily (or in some cases significantly) support research in Engineering include (among others): Compendex, Inspec, SciFinder Scholar, and Web of Science. The Library currently spends over $213,000 for these resources.

III. Current Patterns of Information Service

  1. Characteristics of the Literature

    Researchers in engineering rely mostly on current journal literature. Access to the current 5-10 years of a journal is the most crucial, with older access being predominantly archival in nature. Publishing in engineering is divided between scholarly organizations and commercial publishers. Both types of publishers produce broad-based and narrow-focus engineering journals; the exact mix varies within each particular engineering sub-discipline. Generally speaking, the journals published by scholarly organizations are the better value, in terms of articles and use, but this is somewhat deceiving since the use of a particular journal depends on the size of the research population in the particular sub-discipline and for many sub-disciplines, their major journals are only available from commercial publishers.

    In terms of monographs, engineering researchers mainly require handbooks, data books, and other reference-type works. Depending on the topic these may need to be updated or replaced on anywhere from a yearly basis (as for reference in computer science) to once a decade (for basic data on substances).

    Engineers are also somewhat unique in their reliance on standards and patents. The University is mainly focused on education and research, but enough of the research in engineering is dual purpose, and adherence to standards in the development of a new technology can be vital. However, the nature of standards and the research being done tends to make any systematic collecting of standards impractical and so the Library purchases them on an as-needed basis. Patents are also heavily used, but fortunately most of the world’s patent offices have begun providing free online access to their patents. Those patents not available online can be provided through document delivery.

  2. Collection Development
    1. Areas of Focus

      The School of Engineering necessarily has many areas of focus, most of which are adequately supported by current journal subscriptions and monograph purchases. Electrical Engineering and Environmental Engineering are both currently expanding their programs through new faculty hires and increased graduate student enrollment.

      The Library collects mainly research level monographs. Handbooks and graduate level textbooks are also purchased on a more selective basis. Conference proceedings are rarely purchased unless of great relevance to current research or are representative of work performed at the University.

    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 broad in coverage for the School of Engineering. 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 to discount to Yankee or produce less 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.

        Book series can be purchased, but, as they represent an ongoing commitment of resources, can be subject to cancellation as with journals.

      2. Journals

        The School of Engineering 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 instead of 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 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. See below for a discussion of the more fluid situation of electronic journals.

        See section Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan for detailed discussion of this critical Library supplemental service.

  3. Access Development

    In order to assist School of Engineering researchers to locate the research materials they need, the Library will use a combination of local collections, licensed electronic products, subject and program-based web links, current awareness services, and document delivery and interlibrary loan.

    1. 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 the School of Engineering (see section Current Library Expenditures, Networked Services) provided by the Library seems sufficient to meet the above stated objective.

      The primary indexes for Engineering are Compendex and Inspec. Both are available with a common interface and may be searched simultaneously. Between the two of them, they cover the majority of the journal and conference literature in Engineering. Both are stable resources that have been available electronically in one form or another for quite some time. The library no longer maintains the print versions. Compendex and Inspec are of high quality and provide all the information needed for placing requests through DD/ILL.

    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, "".)

    3. Other Internet-based resources

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

      The Library also maintains a Patents Information page at /research/bysubject/patentinfo.htm. The US Patent Office, European Patent Office, and World Intellectual Property Organization have all made freely available online patent searching and access to the full text and images of the majority of patents.

    4. Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan

      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.

      The Library encourages faculty to take advantage of the Library's Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan (DD/ILL) Service, as we continue to reduce paper subscriptions due to high cost. Additionally, the Library continues to make improvements to DD/ILL for efficiency and quality in our efforts to make this service a viable alternative for teaching and research needs.

      In conjunction with DD/ILL, the Library has introduced and continues to promote Current Awareness Services as an alternative means for browsing the table of contents of journals no longer on subscription as well as 1000s of other titles. Products such as Ingenta and Contents Direct (Elsevier) deliver relevant citations to the desktop for patron-designed profiles. In addition, a patron may order a document directly through one or the other Service, for a fee, or obtain the document using the Library's free DD/ILL Service. The turn around time for the DD/ILL has improved so that a patron may realistically expect delivery of the document within a week's time. In addition, the University Community is being encouraged to publish in alternative journals published by SPARC to both support alternative publications and create real competition with their commercial publishers' counterparts.

      Data from the automated DD/ILL operations is increasingly 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

      Consortia agreements have reduced the cost for accessing databases and journal packages. We have taken advantage of Consortia agreements to acquire databases such as the Web of Science and INSPEC as well as online publications from Springer and Elsevier. Consortia arrangements have allowed the Library to provide desktop access to databases and online journals that would otherwise be cost prohibitive. It has become increasingly necessary for the Library to participate in consortia purchase agreements of this type. Hence, the ability to partner with other libraries in these purchases may strongly influence what resources we provide access to and when.

IV. Emerging Choices

Publishers are increasingly pushing for libraries to go electronic only without offering any significant savings. At some point the Library will be faced with the choice between keeping a small but highly focused print collection or providing access to a broad array of online journals, subject to the license terms of the publishers.

Key among the concerns is continual access. When the Library purchases online access, it is just that: access. Few publishers guarantee any sort of access to years of journals that the Library paid for if future budgetary constraints force the Library to cancel access. Some publishers sell back file access separate from current issue access and only consider the current five years of a journal as current, so that the Library automatically loses access to years it paid for as current issues are shifted to the back file.

Document Delivery/Interlibrary loan will become an increasingly important service to fill in archival access to journals that we lose online access to. However as more and more Libraries are forced to make the same decision, publishers are expected to re-write their license terms to forbid such transaction in an attempt to combat subscription cancellations. The Library supports alternative publishing models whenever it can in an attempt to forestall this bleak future and encourages all faculty to publish in and cite from journals published by non-profit publishers whenever possible.

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

The future of collecting to support Engineering in a changing information economy

Both continuing inflation in the unit cost of print and electronic publications, and expanding demand for new products and services are anticipated. The Libraries do not expect the University to solve this problem by increasing the Libraries' share of limited University resources. The Libraries hope for a continuation of the current level of support, but cannot regard it as guaranteed. Increasingly though, measures of user behavior: circulation by classification and patron affiliation; database use; and ILL/document delivery 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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