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What’s a collection anyway? 167.32 KB

In 1953, Kenneth J. Braugh stated that the mission of Harvard’s library was to collect and preserve everything. Those days are long gone. For the last couple of decades, given the rapid expansion of scholarly content sources and types, even the best-funded research libraries have become cognizant that a comprehensive collection is an unattainable vision. Nevertheless, many research library mission statements continue to give prominence to their role in making the world’s knowledge accessible to a wide range of user groups by acquiring, organizing, preserving, and delivering resources and assisting users in their effective use. Beyond the libraries at large research-intensive institutions, the mission statements of academic libraries of all sizes and budgets also often emphasize their role in collecting and making accessible information in a variety of formats in anticipation of users’ current and future needs. In the face of pressure to offer additional services aligned with current and emergent research and teaching goals, it is becoming harder and harder to increase funding for collections. According to a 2018 report, almost two-thirds of academic libraries report flat budgets that fund numerous activities beyond the collection, including new services in web development, repositories, research data services, learning systems, digital humanities, research workflow support, open access, and digital media production.

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