Eating the frog first: ending the status quo of print and online collection development in academic libraries

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Australian Library and Information Association


Library Services Centre




Ward, A., & Wykes, R. (2016). Eating the frog first: ending the status quo of print and online collection development in academic libraries. Paper presented at the ALIA WA Symposium, Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

Available here.


There is a serious danger of stagnant collection development practices becoming a noose around the neck of academic libraries. In the experience of Edith Cowan University, we have large print and obsolete technology collections spread across our three campus locations. Converting our collection practices to acquire predominantly electronic content presents yet another dilemma for us. The cost of databases and online journals can be exorbitant, especially now the Australian Dollar has dropped in value against the US Dollar. In 2015, through a series of discrete projects we elevated our Procurement Team staff skills base and shifted work processes that positioned the Library to make the most of two unexpected situations: The first was the imminent implementation of a long-anticipated Library Management System, and the provision of increased access points into the ECU Joondalup library to enhance our student and staff experience when on Campus. Our Library Services Centre used those situations to initiate major reform to the management of the collections, to ensure our library service was agile, and relevant to the new University Academic structure. This reform took the shape of two projects: Mostly Automated De-Selection (MAD), and Annual Review List (ARL). The MAD project resulted in the reduction in size of the Joondalup campus collection by one third. We achieved this in six months due to strong planning and organisation of the procurement team, and the aim to transform the collection into a smaller, more up-to-date, relevant collection. MAD is now run across three campuses, coordinated from the Joondalup Campus Library. With the adoption of a new LMS in the near future it is highly likely that further automation will be possible. The ARL project created a holistic view of all subscribed journals. We presented the subject librarians with a unified view of print and online subscriptions, where we identified serials that could be cancelled due to low cost-per-use, or were duplicated through package deals or aggregator access. The result of the ARL was more effective, targeted serials spending. Our paper will discuss the challenges we encountered implementing the MAD and ARL. Problems we encountered with the process will be presented, along with potential solutions, and further ways forward, including increasing the automation of the projects with the implementation of a new LMS.

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