Moving the Center in Library Collections: Principles and actions for IUB Libraries

 

Approved by Collection Development Committee, 21 October 2021

Reviewed by Collection Development Committee, 18 February 2021

 

Why did we write this?

This statement is intended to remind us of some foundational principles of librarianship, especially as they apply to our work to develop and manage library collections in support of the teaching and research mission of Indiana University Bloomington. This statement is based upon the work of many others, some of whom are listed in the Further Reading section. The statement of principles is followed by some specific activities that flow from them. These are the values that drive our choices from top to bottom of the organization, from individual librarians to the Libraries as an organization.

Who are “we”?

The statement was written by the Collection Development Committee and is written from the point of view of collection development librarians. However, since we collection managers can do nothing without the collaboration and support of other librarians and professionals, both within the IU Libraries and beyond, the activities below include some where other librarians and library departments are central.

 

Principles

 

In collaboration with the communities we serve, we build, care for, and preserve collections of materials that support intellectual, cultural, education, and research interests. Our collection development practices are based on principles and concepts of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice, and on our commitment to supporting an open and equitable scholarly communication system.

Who are the communities we serve?

Our primary communities are the faculty, staff, and students of Indiana University as well as the residents of Indiana. In addition, because of our unique position as one of the largest libraries in the country, our community also includes researchers from outside our geographically-bound communities who need access to our rare and highly specialized materials.

What do we mean by collaboration?

We are guided by the principle “nothing about us, without us,” meaning that no policy should be decided without the full and direct participation of members of the group(s) that it affects.

What are intellectual, cultural, education and research interests?

The research and teaching materials needed by the IU Bloomington faculty, staff, and students to complete their academic work are primary among these interests, but we view materials contributing to the broader intellectual and cultural interests of the community for both leisure and self-edification as being part of a well-rounded collection as well.

What do we mean by diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice?

Diversity is at its simplest the presence of difference in a particular context but we are especially focused on the differences that bring richness to our collections such as a variety of voices, perspectives, and backgrounds. Achieving equity requires more than just the removal of barriers. Sometimes it requires a re-centering of collections, of priorities, of people and cultures who have been excluded. Libraries must recognize impediments to information access and actively work to overcome them. Inclusion means making every effort to create a collection where all of our community in its diversity can see themselves represented and their contributions valued. Social justice is the systematic fair treatment of all members of society and, in relation to collections, can be considered in how we expend both our financial, time, and space resources on the acquisition, maintenance, and preservation of the collections in our care.

 

Practices

 

Our values, as outlined above, are expressed by the decisions we make in the following areas.

Acquisitions

We will make the inclusion of traditionally marginalized and/or non-canonical voices and cultures one of our priorities. We will consider how our choice of formats impacts our ability to share our collections with certain populations. We will remember that format of information and culture are sometimes inextricably intertwined. We will build and support print collections as well as other formats. We will rely on a diverse collection development sources, including small presses, independent publishers, and regional vendors. We will continue to compel vendors to ensure that the digital products we purchase do not exclude some members of our community. We will support open access to information that can ameliorate the exclusion of some communities as a result of paywalls.

Digitization

Digitization is labor- and resource-intensive. We will prioritize the digitization of collections that highlight the breadth and depth of human diversity and that serve to showcase the contributions of cultures and voices that may have historically been oppressed or overlooked.

Discoverability

Collections are not useful unless they can be found. We will endeavor to make all our collections discoverable. We recognize that computer algorithms are not neutral. We will endeavor to remove or avoid outdated, inaccurate, or offensive metadata where possible. We will endeavor where possible to describe non-English collections with high-quality metadata that correctly represent the language and culture of the source communities that created them.

Preservation

Traditional modes of preservation selection have tended to prioritize materials based on factors such as monetary or artistic value, and cultural biases may have left out materials produced by those who have been marginalized historically. Treatment decision-making from a purely technical perspective focusing on chemical and physical makeup, without an understanding of the cultural value of an item, risks losing important contextual information. We will work to ensure that the cultural context in which collections were produced informs both our selection priorities and treatment decisions.

Scholarly publishing

We will strive to foster an open and equitable scholarly communication system.

Storage and availability

Where and how things are stored can negatively impact members of our community. Although off-site storage is increasingly necessary, we will ensure that it does not prevent any members of our community from accessing the information material they need. We will consider factors other than usage in determining what information sources need to be closest at hand. We will ensure that help information on multiple means of access is readily available to all users.

Visibility

We will strive to accurately and respectfully highlight and promote collections that feature marginalized voices on our web pages as well as through meaningful exhibits and programming. We will strive to partner with instructors to incorporate materials featuring marginalized voices into teaching and learning.

Web archiving

We will work to preserve selected content on the open web with the express input of the communities from which that content originates.

 

Further Reading

Annie E. Casey Foundation. (2021, April 14, 2021). Equity vs. Equality and Other Racial Justice Definitions. Retrieved 8/16/2021 from https://www.aecf.org/blog/racial-justice-definitions?gclid=CjwKCAjwi9-HBhACEiwAPzUhHC3DKF5lIXBtelvJyGL_PjJM70XLHNsI7MUS3Wob-zGIZiPJR5ijqxoC_yoQAvD_BwE)

 

Baron, J. E., & Broadley, S. (2019). Change the subject [Streaming Video]. The Trustees of Dartmouth College; https://purl.dlib.indiana.edu/iudl/media/910j82rg7q

 

Collections Strategic Steering Committee. (2021). Values for Collections. University of Minnesota Libraries; https://www.lib.umn.edu/about/our-collections/collection-values

 

Joint Area Studies Task Force. (2020). Equity and Access in Higher Education and Academic Libraries Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. https://www.eastasianlib.org/newsite/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Equity-and-Access-in-Higher-Education-and-Academic-Libraries-Final-August-17.pdf

 

Noble, S. U. (2018). Algorithms of oppression: how search engines reinforce racism. New York University Press.

 

Paris, J. (2000). Conservation and the Politics of Use and Value in Research Libraries. The Book and Paper Group Annual, 19. https://cool.culturalheritage.org/coolaic/sg/bpg/annual/v19/bp19-16.html