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Shared Collections Survey by Alan Ritch, UCSC

The CDL Joint Steering Committee on Shared Collections (JSC) met on December 8 to review the results of the digital collection development survey distributed during the summer and fall to bibliographers in the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Area Studies.  The results of the survey reflect the expertise, energy, and interest of the two hundred UC subject specialists who participated.

The survey was sent to about twenty bibliographer “consultants,” each responsible for seeking from librarian and faculty colleagues in their discipline suggestions on three kinds of digital content: resources available for purchase or licensing from external vendors (commercial content); valuable and stable resources freely available via the world wide web (open access content); and University of California resources, textual, visual, or recorded, which ought to be converted into digital form (UC content).  The survey results will soon be posted on the CDL Web page at

The survey was successful in increasing UC librarian and faculty awareness of the CDL’s mission and purpose and in harnessing subject expertise to create lists of worthy candidates for inclusion in the CDL.

The survey was the first step in this selection process.  Each of its three parts will be handled differently.

The “UC content” will be reviewed at the JSC’s January meeting, in consultation with Brian Schottlaender in his role as Senior Associate for the Development of Primary Content in association with the Online Archive of California.  The “open access content” will be discussed at the JSC’s February meeting, in the light of progress in CDL Web design and expected progress in systemwide coordination of cataloging of digital resources.

The challenging process of refining the list of “commercial content” (300 recommended titles) has already begun.  Several of these resources have already been licensed for the CDL (e.g., JSTOR, Web of Science, Project Muse, Bibliography of the History of Art, and Bibliography of Asian Studies).  The group plans to defer several titles that are still available only as CD-ROMs.  It seems likely that some will soon move to the web access, which has clear economic, technical, and access advantages.  Other titles will not be considered immediately because they are already adequately accessible at campuses that need them.  Several questions can be applied to the long list of remaining items.  Was the item requested for several different subjects? How highly was a title ranked within a given subject? Does its content have proven value? Does digital format offer significant added value? Is its estimated cost reasonable? Will its acquisition encourage progressive providers (e.g., not for profit publishers)? Were UC faculty involved in the creation of its content? In more general terms, the JSC will try to maintain a balance between reference tools and full text content, and will require for each acquisition a compelling rationale based on CDL’s broader collection policies.

Since the descriptive detail and method of ranking varied greatly among the survey responses, not all of these questions could be answered immediately.  However, the JSC expects to identify in each of the disciplines one or several items that satisfy enough of these selection criteria to recommend systemwide acquisition.

A preliminary list of over twenty titles mentioned in two or more responses has already been developed.  The final list of items recommended for a first phase of CDL collection development in the social sciences and humanities will be compiled following further advice from the bibliographer consultants.  Titles on this list will be assessed in terms of possible consortial discounts, license language, and verifiable performance.

The JSC welcomes additional information about resources already recommended, especially as these become available in formats that are more manageable in the CDL context, and will seek further guidance on how these and other newly recommended titles should be ranked.  Since the acquisition list is likely to remain dynamic and flexible for the forseeable future, the CDL will continue to depend on and appreciate the invaluable advice of subject experts from throughout the UC system.