Re: Library failures... -- 2 messages Stephen Clark 01 Oct 2002 13:38 UTC

2 messages:


-------- Original Message --------
From: "Rick Anderson" <>
Subject: RE: Library failures... -- 3 messages
Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2002 14:39:15 -0700

 > As we all know, a freshman may come in and want
 > something from an exotic journal for her five page English 101 paper
 > on abortion.  She wants it because it was in the first screen of
 > citations from her search in some database. Sure, she may be unhappy
 > if we don't have it, but I can hope that she is counseled by a
 > reference or ILL person to accept something equally appropriate from
 > one of hundreds of other sources. If we do it right, she doesn't even
 > think we failed, as we've helped her to get what she needed, not what
 > she thought she wanted.

You're right (and so are several others who have said roughly the same
thing).  There's a big difference between saying this to a patron:

"You think you need a copy of the Gutenberg Bible, but based on what
you've told me about your assignment you'll actually find that a copy of
the KJV works just fine.  Here it is."

... and this (presuming that the patron really does need a Gutenberg Bible):

"You need a copy of the Gutenberg Bible?  I'm sorry, we're just a
medium-sized academic library.  No library like ours is going have a
Gutenberg Bible."

The difference between these two answers is that the first one is based
on meeting the patron's needs; it is _not_ an example of failure because
the patron's needs are actually met.  In the second case, the failure is
real, but the librarian attempts to justify it based on library
standards ("You can't reasonably expect us to have a Gutenberg Bible
because we're not that type of library").  In that second case, the
problem is not that the library lacks a Gutenberg Bible; the problem is
that the library needs to think differently about the criteria by which
it judges success and failure.

Rick Anderson
Director of Resource Acquisition
The University Libraries
University of Nevada, Reno          "Beware any theory that
1664 No. Virginia St.                explains everything and
Reno, NV  89557                      predicts nothing."
PH  (775) 784-6500 x273              -- Richard C. Galbraith
FX  (775) 784-1328

Date: Tue, 1 Oct 2002 08:03:36 -0400
From: Albert Henderson <>
Subject: Re: Library failure (RE: NOT the "Serials Crisis" -- Dan
   Lester) -- Rick Anderson

on Thu, 26 Sep 2002 "Rick Anderson" <> wrote:


 > By no means am I saying that we should not hew to standards.  We
absolutely should.  But the standards to which we hew should be informed
by the needs of our patrons, not by professional benchmarks that were
set during a different information era.
 > That's the way I see it, anyway.  Like I said, I don't expect
everyone to agree.

        ACRL Standards were revised (actually, emasculated)
        -- but not 'informed by the needs of our patrons.'
        Skyrocketing interlibrary borrowings, complaints by
        students, faculty and faculty senates, use of grant
        funds by researchers to pay for private subscriptions
        (that are not available to other university members),
        etc. attest to that!

        Rather than admit to the deteriorating quality of
        collections and shortages of staff, standards were
        modified to retain accreditations while meeting
        financial goals handed down from on high. This action
        was possible only by setting 'libraries' outside of
        and in competition with 'R&D,' as if the essential role
        of dissemination ended when man set foot on the moon.

        Best wishes,

Albert Henderson