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University of Connecticut University Libraries

Collection Development and Access Plan:
Plant Science

Prepared by Jonathan Nabe, January, 2003
DRAFT for review by the Plant Science Department


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

Degree Programs:
A.A.S., Horticulture; specialization in floriculture or nursery and landscaping
33 students Fall 2001
B.S., Plant Science; 3 specializations: agronomy (further broken down into crop science, soil science, and turf science)
(13) ; horticulture (33); landscape architecture (64)
110 undergraduate majors Fall 2001

M.S. and PhD; major areas of research are Controlled Environment Agriculture, Floriculture, Forage Crop Management, Improving Ornamental Crops, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Plant Mineral Nutrition & Container Media, Plant Physiology & Plant Growth Regulation, Plant/Soil/Animal Interactions, Sustainable Agriculture, Turf Management, and Weed Biology & Control
21 M.S. and 10 PhD students Fall 2002

26 faculty and one extension instructor as of Fall 2002

II. Collections Budget Expenditure Patterns

Monographs: $7,500
Serials: $13,000

NOTE: These numbers represent the figures for animal and plant sciences combined.

In 2002, a reclassification of life science journals resulted in more titles being considered as Agriculture titles, with a resulting small change in serials allocation. Since 2000, serials have consumed a larger percentage of the funds allocated to animal and plant sciences, from 56% to 63%.

Electronic Resources
$1,300 for Agricola via SilverPlatter

Many other resources, which support Plant Science are paid for from a general library electronic products fund. Such resources include abstracting and indexing databases such as BIOSIS Previews, CABDirect, Biological and Agricultural Index, Web of Science; and electronic journal packages such as ScienceDirect, JSTOR, Wiley Interscience, among others.

III. Current Patterns of Information Service

  1. Characteristics of the Literature

    Journals are by far the most important resource for plant science research. Many of the most used journals are not specific to plant science, but are categorized more appropriately as life science journals. While issues from the previous ten years are cited most frequently, it is not uncommon for research from 15-40 years ago to be cited. 75% of the strictly plant science journals subscribed to here are published by professional societies or university presses (see /research/bysubject/agjournals.htm). Thus, prices are not exorbitant, though typically they have been rising by double-digit inflation rates recently.

    Other resources commonly used by students and faculty in Plant Science teaching and research, include methods compilations and laboratory manuals, conference proceedings, and "grey literature."

  2. Collection Development
    1. Areas of Focus

      Agronomy, with Integrated Pest Management a growing focus; Horticulture, with nurseries a large industry in the state; and Turf Science, also a profitable area. Soil Science is important to all areas of plant science and is an area of concentration for graduate students. In the area of crop improvement, plant biotechnology is dominant. Typically, biotechnology research relies on journals beyond strictly plant science titles, so cooperative collection development in cell and molecular biology, biochemistry and chemistry is necessary.

    2. Acquisition Strategies
      1. Monographs

        The University of Connecticut Libraries use the approval plan services of Yankee Book Peddler to supply the bulk of new monographs. Books are received based on a profile that is fairly broad in coverage for Plant Science. Notification 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 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, software and hardware manuals are generally not collected. Dissertations must be specifically requested for purchase.

      2. Journals

        The Agriculture 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 also indicates possible need for a title.

        Because many plant science titles are published by society or university presses, cancellations based on pricing have been rare. However, the extremely high inflation rates for some agriculture and 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. See below for a discussion of the more fluid situation of electronic journals.

  3. Access Development

    In order to assist Plant Science researchers to locate the research materials they need, the Library will use a combination of local collections, licensed electronic products, current awareness services, and document delivery and interlibrary loan.

    1. Acquisitions strategies: Indexes, Abstracts, Library Catalogs and Bibliographic Utilities

      In 2002, the Library added CABDirect to its database offerings. This, in combination with Agricola, BIOSIS Previews, Medline, and the Web of Science provide comprehensive coverage of the field. In fact, this represents the best of the available resources. With a few exceptions, print coverage of years not covered by electronic resources is adequate and should be retained.

      The Library uses Ingenta as a current awareness resource. However, increasingly publishers of online journal products are providing this service as well. Current awareness services from publishers is the preferred method currently used by faculty. The Library is monitoring use of Ingenta to determine if it is necessary or advisable to retain.

      The current complement of general print and electronic indexing, abstracting, full-text services, and freely available current awareness services, as well as those specific to Plant Science provided by the Library, seems adequate to meet the above objective.

    2. Acquisitions strategies: Electronic Journals, Books and Data <<P> 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. Document Delivery/Interlibrary Loan

      Because of unsustainable inflation rates for life science journals, DD/ILL must be seen as an increasingly significant - and ultimately sufficient - method of information delivery for the Plant Science faculty. Indeed, the availability of a title from either our preferred DD vendors or ILL suppliers is a determining factor in a decision to retain or cancel titles in tight budgetary times. With the possibility for Rapid Retrieval and high quality imaging for content with graphics, DD/ILL has been proven to be a viable alternative, although the problems of timeliness, reproduction quality, and file size still remain. For the most part, Plant Science faculty have been pleased with the efficiency and quality of this service.

    4. Significant campus or external resources

      With UConn joining the Boston Library Consortium in 2002, the possibility now exists for faculty and students to use the resources and facilities of a number of impressive research libraries in the area. See for a complete list.

IV. Emerging Choices

"[The UConn Libraries] will use their collections budget to encourage market competition and to support new and ongoing projects that seek sustainable and innovative models for pricing, delivering, or organizing information resources; and similarly will support copyright models that permit free use of information for academic purposes."

The Library and University have made a commitment to resist the efforts of some commercial publishers to monopolize scholarly publishing and gouge academic institutions for access to research - see /about/services/policies/collections/clac.pdf for a full exposition of this commitment.

How to fulfill this commitment without seriously reducing the access to commercially-produced journals is the most difficult dilemma confronting the libraries. Unsustainable business models and the bundling of titles by such publishers have aroused a remarkable reaction of innovation and independence among any number of players in the field: libraries, faculty and other researchers, information specialists, computer programmers, etc. (See /about/publications/scholarlycommunication.html for links to some of these efforts and the underlying issues behind them). DD/ILL (see above) is part of the answer; moving to electronic-only journals provides short-term relief; longer term, innovative, university-wide efforts will be necessary to address the crisis in scholarly communication. More immediately, resources are available for faculty to make an impact in this area, and the liaison is ready to work with them to identify and execute the plans most appropriate for them, their students, and the university community.

Because of the trends of increasing expenditures for journals, fewer and fewer books will be purchased in the field of plant science. Faculty must help to evaluate the appropriateness of this decision, and contribute their insider’s knowledge as to what titles are essential for the library to own, or alternatively, when ILL is adequate. Tighter budgets require even more communication between librarians and faculty and students.

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 such as circulation by classification and patron affiliation, database use, and ILL/document delivery activity will play a role in budget decision-making.

Ongoing dialogue will help ensure that the best decisions are made and that users are aware of the emerging issues and trends that are influencing these decisions. The Liaison Program will continue to be the primary vehicle for this contact and interchange.

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