Library acquisition system

Helen Exner

New books and periodicals in the Seeley G. Mudd Library enter the system in several ways, as Corrine Wocelka, the library’s director of technical services, and Susan Richards, director of the library, explained in a recent interview.
The process starts with the budget allocated by the university, which is divided between the library and university departments. When a professor thinks the library is lacking important books, he or she sends a wish-list to Wocelka, who manages the budget. She usually orders books from vendors, like Bookhouse and Blackwells North America, since, she said, “we can get better deals” through vendors. If a professor needs a book immediately, Wocelka orders directly from the publisher, contacting companies like Amazon.com. Richards said that the library prefers going through vendors, even though an order can take up to eight weeks to arrive. The latter option forces them to “pay top dollar” in shipping costs.
Ordering periodicals is a more complicated process. Many science journals are very expensive, Richards said, costing between $5,000 and $8,000 a year. She continued, “A journal is a longtime investment,” so department heads must approve the purchase of journals, which become more expensive every year.
Students who use the interlibrary loan system also play a role in the acquisition process. The loan system allows students to borrow books and journals from university libraries throughout the Midwest. Students doing research on obscure topics rely on this system, which, Richards emphasized, “is not cheap.” The expense comes from processing requests, photocopying articles, and shipping documents. Still, interlibrary loan is often a good resource for students unable to convince the library to buy a book they want.
Richards and Wocelka both stressed their commitment to helping professors and students locate the resources they need. They often hold new books for individuals, allowing them to do research more quickly. Richards said, “Anyway we can [help], we’re willing to work on it.”

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