Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shaping Liberal Arts College Library Collections

I am at the FDR Presidential Library at this conference, hosted by Vassar College.

I spend the morning touring the FDR Museum with friends. It is well worth a visit, particularly the special exhibit on FDR's first 100 days and the Eleanor Roosevelt exhibit. Such an impressive woman.

In her welcoming remarks to the Conference, the Director of the Presidential Library quoted FDR when he opened the Library in 1941. To build and maintain libraries and archives FDR said a, "nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people so to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future." Words to live by.

I have come away from this conference more convinced than ever that, as I concluded in a recent post, our future is in consortia. What distinguishes us as a liberal arts college library for our users is our close relationship with them and our focus on student learning. Some of our collections, and how they are built and shaped, are related to that those liberal artsy distinguishing features. But mostly, in terms of information resources, our users want it all. Therefore we need to embed ourselves in large scale consortia that provide convenient unmediated borrowing and also join purchase licensing opportunities. Then we can concentrate on what we do well -- individual service to students and faculty.

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