Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Weeding Continues

Rather than reviewing the next Dewey section, I am putting up for your consideration a number of large sets we have throughout the reference collection. What should we get rid of and what should we keep. What is worth the space it takes up and what isn't. There are some I think should go, but others of these I'm very opposed to tossing (we are a library, after all). In the interest of not prejudicing your opinion one way or the other, I won't let you know at this point what my thoughts are. I want to know what you think.
Here they are:
Contemporary Authors
Contemporary Literary Criticism
Dictionary of Literary Biography
Short Story Index
American Writers/British Writers
Readers Guide
Book Review Digest
Book Review Index
Current Book Review Citations
NYT Index
Art Index
Thomas Register 2003
As always, this is not only a weeding exercise, it is also to let you know what we have and where it is. If you have forgotten all about a particular set, or never knew we had it in the first place, hm...... What does that say about it's current usefulness.


Cynthia said...

I see no need for the NY Times Index--everything can be found electronically either at or via our databases.

All others I need to think about first--some I have an emotional attachment to because we are, as you note, a library, but that is not the right way to vote.

Jane said...

LA says: When I was at The Pennington School, I stopped purchase of all the literature sets including Contemporary Authors, CLC and DLB. This information is online and I know that the students that most use these sets prefer and will use the online resources. I think we can discontinue all of these titles. But do not discard the older indexes of the Readers Guide. These are valuable for the student researching periodical and newspaper articles before the 1970's. I guess there is not much value in continuing to purchase the current indexes.

Catherine Harper said...

We stopped getting the New York Times Index a few years ago, deciding to go with the NYT Archive database instead. I don’t think any of us has regretted that decision. But getting rid of all that human indexing that we’ve already paid for? That’s a tougher one. There are some searches that can be done more easily and/or effectively in the NYTI than in ProQuest. For example, the results of the 1969 New York City mayoral election, editorials about the environment in 1969, articles reporting on combat deaths in Vietnam in 1969, a blow-by-blow report on the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1969, etc. I’d say keep it, at least for now.

I’d also vote to keep Reader’s Guide (the old volumes that are pre-database, not the subscription). They are invaluable for answering requests for older articles. It might make sense to keep pre-database volumes of Book Review Digest, Book Review Index, and Current Book Review Citations for the same reasons, but we have such short runs of all three that it hardly makes a difference.

It seems that the Gale literature sets are rarely getting used anymore. The high school kids—traditionally their primary users—are apparently finding enough in the online databases. It would not pain me if we were to get rid of all print volumes of Contemporary Authors, CLC, and TCLC. The American Writers and British Writers sets and the Dictionary of Literary Biography, on the other hand, have such good, long, in-depth articles about major writers. I’d like to see us keep those, even though we no longer have them on S/O. Having them circulate makes them more useful than they were when confined to the reference shelves.

Short Story Index still serves a purpose. Even though I often find short stories in collections using WorldCat, it’s not always reliable. I’d vote to keep it.

I never use Art Index. If the art biography books in our collection plus the periodical databases and the web don’t have enough information, I prefer sending the question on to the experts at Newark PL. What’s more, we only have a six-year run of it. It’s hardly worth looking at. What I would like to see us get, if it’s not prohibitively expensive, is an academic subscription to Judging from what Newark has sent us from AskArt, it looks like a great source of artist’s biographies as well as art values.

I thought Thomas Register was long gone. Let’s get rid of it already.

JiHae said...

LOL, CH re: Thomas Register, I've been telling patrons we don't have it anymore for quite a while now. (hmm, maybe I shouldn't have admitted that). Anyway, I agree with Catherine re: the Gale series. I would also love for us to subscribe to AskArt. One would think we could afford it with all the money we're saving on our discards. Jane?

Jane said...

GS says: I like the New York Times in print. I have found that it can sometimes be easier to use the print version to pinpoint an article (especially if it doesn’t come up readily in the database) and then go back to the database with more information to narrow the search. Also the idea that Catherine mentioned of following a topic for an entire year is much easier to do in print. The print version helps weed out non essential articles.

I have actually used the old Reader’s Guide recently for ILL purposes and to help someone with bibliographic references for a paper. So I would say keep these.

I personally like the Gale sets, CLC, TCLC, DLB, etc. And they are so easy to use with the online index. Whenever I have taken students over to the books themselves and explained how to use them, they are so happy with how easy the print version is to use and how quickly they can get the information they need. And not everything in the books is in the database. Unfortunately, I don’t think the students and other users particularly care about the finer techniques of research and are happy with whatever they find online, even if something else better exists elsewhere. I might go for getting rid of the criticism volumes but not the DLB. It’s thematic arrangement is impossible to duplicate in the online version. One note of interest about the Contemporary Authors series - if an author is in multiple volumes, and the entries differ as more information is added in subsequent volumes, the online version will not necessarily match the book version. Many times the online one is a compilation of the all previous entries.

I would keep the American and British Writers books.

I, like Catherine, often find the short story I want by either googling it, using OCLC, or guessing which book I think we own that might have it in it. However, I do like Short Story index for when all else fails. If we could have someone add the short story titles of our short story collections (and the plays) then we could truly toss the indexes. We don’t own many of the indexed collections anyway. But it helps name a collection is someone wants an ILL.

I never use the book review indexes and didn’t even use them much back in the day.

Thomas Register is online: Very easy to use.

I have never found anything I was looking for in Art Index.

Kristin said...

I'm sorry I am so very late on this one. I vote YES for Readers Guide. No to Art Index, but yes on possible subscription to askArt. Yes to Short Story Index. I like the American Writers/British Writers...Thomas Register, what's that? ;o) j/k With impending budget cuts, it makes me nervous to say out with the printed Gale, but it would clear a lot of space over there... and, we will keep online access somehow, won't we?