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Please, Sir, I Want Some More: A Review of the Literature of Acquisitions, 1990
The literature of acquisitions for 1990 is reviewed. A highlight is the large number of articles concerning vendor interaction and serial service fees. A resurgence of interest in education for acquisitions librarians on an international level is evident. The literature of acquisitions demonstrates a continued growth in definition in all aspects of the profession.
"Please, sir, I want some more."...
"Mr. Limbkins, I beg your pardon, sir! Oliver Twist has asked for more."
"That boy will be hung . . . I know that boy will be hung."
Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist, Chapter 2.
Acquisitions wants more. Stuck as it is between the crunch of the economy and the growth of collection development, it cannot help but want more: more education, more appreciation, and more professional responsibility. Long ago and far away, acquisitions meant buying trips to Latin America and stops at The Strand to send home some real finds for the collection - not that these jaunts would necessarily be made by the acquisitions librarian. Today acquisitions means looking critically at the deals made with vendors, scrutinizing publishers' promises, sharing as much information as possible about policies and procedures, and wishing for more of everything.
In 1980, scarcely more than ten years ago, there was no year's work in acquisitions article written for LRTS. Acquisitions, for all intents and purposes, did not exist. Two literature review articles, one on serials and one on collection development and preservation, contained some incidental references to acquisitions. Serials librarians throughout the United States seemed to be watching the elimination of serials departments and fearing that computerization would bring an end to their work. Acquisitions concerns then were centered on descriptive discussions of the steps one must go through to order a book. Fortunately, acquisitions librarians have asked for - and received - more, and the literature of 1990 reflects this.
A note about the literature of acquisitions in 1990: a good portion of the work represents summaries from conferences. Acquisitions is having itself some very fine conferences these days: the College of Charleston Conference is known throughout the profession for its stimulating and freewheeling discussions, and the North American Serials Interest Group meetings are not far behind in reputation. Sharing presentations from these conference is a useful and meaningful exercise. Not everyone can go to Charleston, and if we could, it simply would cease to be the same. Still, there is some opinion afoot that the literature of acquisitions could be strengthened by more scholarship and less reporting. The 1990s will surely find the right balance.
It should also be noted that the editorship of a core acquisitions journal, Library Acquisitions: Practice & Theory (LAPT), has changed hands after fifteen years. Scott Bullard, who really raised a baby to a fine young adult, has moved on to other pursuits, and acquisitions librarians now find LAPT ready for another spurt of growth under the guidance of Carol Hawks. It is tribute to acquisitions librarianship and literature that LAPT has developed and will continue to grow with such strength.
"Something of a mind-boggling experience," Alley calls it, describing the Baker & Taylor B&T Link system that allows a library to "see" the Baker & Taylor stock and guarantees delivery of any title in that stock. This system and others in various stages of development represent a major change in library acquisitions in this country. The ability to provide, with some high measure of confidence, a needed title in a remarkably short time is changing the way acquisitions has done business for the past decades. While the advent of the vendor-library electronic link will not change the relationships, it does alter the atmosphere in which we work. Pritchard describes the benefits of electronic systems and discusses the present capabilities and ways in w%wch these systems should develop. As these electronic communications systems develop further, new twists are being tried, as described by Kelly. Rather than having the library query the vendor database, Kelly presents a process in which the vendor dials into the library mainframe to communicate, with a resultant lowering in communication costs.
A description of a fully automated acquisitions system, including the levels of automation and the goals may be achieved, was given by McLaren at the Charleston Conference. Hawks describes how audit transactions might be affected by automation, using the installation of the Innovacq system at the Ohio State University Libraries as a backdrop. The North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) meeting in Claremont, California, provided an opportunity to discuss, among other items, serials automation from planning to implementation (Sommer) and the development of Interfaces between the library systems' vendor and the subscription agent (Foster). From the latter comes a review of the types of material a systems vendor and a serials agent might want to exchange and a discussion of the need for agreed-upon standards for exchange of electronic information. At the 1990 Conference on Acquisitions, Budgets, and Collections in St. Louis, Furi presented a guide to choosing automated acquisitions systems, Gardner discussed the decisions that went into the automation of a county library system, and Robson described the automation efforts in a multitype consortium (Genaway). Automating acquisitions is discussed by Phelps (A), who points out potential cost savings from more effective procedures, and by Le Guern, whose work in automating serials in a special library illustrates the cost benefits of work consolidation. The value of using an in-house program for automating acquisitions accounting is presented by Marshalek and Gottwald.
Organization of Acquisitions
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