Sunday, April 6, 2014

Syllabi comparison: Collection Management

I chose three syllabi on the topic of Collection Management, which is the course I will teach in this incoming summer semester. The syllabi compared here are 1) LBSC 708G Special Topics in InformationStudies:Collection Development by Mary Edsall Choquette in Spring 2013, College of Information Studies, Maryland’s iSchool; 2) LIS 659:Collection Development by Dennis Carrigan (online class), in Summer 2012, School of Library & Information Science, University of Kentucky; and 3) SI 620: Collection Development and Management by Karen Markey in Winter 2014, School of Information, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

As one of the most important parts of a syllabus, detailed learning objectives are provided in the very beginning of all three syllabi. Several overlaps can be found across the syllabi, including: being familiar with the terminology/concept of collection development; developing skills to evaluate users’ needs/behaviors; and understanding current challenges of collection management in libraries. Besides the similarities, variations among these syllabi are also interesting. For instance, both LBSC 708G and SI 620 list the skills to develop a collection management policy as a learning objective; LBSC 708G requires the students to be able to “explain the value and necessity of cooperative and collaborative collection development” after the course; and SI 620 particularly addresses the importance to understand how the collection development activities could vary across different types of institutions.

Due to the similarities existed in learning objectives, majority of the content/topics covered by these courses are overlapped. Specifically, all three courses are organized by the life-cycle of collection management: selection, acquiring, evaluation, preservation, and weeding. In addition, each of these courses also provide some special topics that are not covered by other two courses: LBSC 708G also includes topics on licenses and contracts; LIS 659 covers legal issues related to collection management, such as copyright, ILL, and document delivery; and SI 620 contains topics on budgets and allocation. Further, both LBSC 708G and SI 620 invite multiple guest-speakers to the class, and most of them are experienced librarians who have expertise on a particular area in collection management. No guest speaker is mentioned in LIS 659, probably due to its online format.         

For the reading list of these courses, LBSC 708G and LIS 659 use the same textbook (but different editions) and additional articles; while the syllabus of SI 620 does not include information about the readings. The textbook mentioned here is Collection Management Basics by G. Edward Evans and Margaret Z. Saponaro. I also noticed that one of the recommended books (not required one) in LBSC 708G is Fundamentalsof Collection Development and Management by Peggy Johnson, which is the textbook required by the Collection Management course in my department here in SLIS.

 Another interesting finding when comparing these three syllabi is about the assignment design. LIS 659, as an introductory course, requires students to take mid-term and final exams (in short-answer format), and submit an essay on the topic provided by the instructor. Differently, LBSC 708G, as a seminar course, asks students to complete the following assignments that are more practice-oriented in some way: write critical analysis paper (3-5 pages) on one of the weekly readings and lead the in-class discussions based on their papers; and work in groups to create a Collection Development Portfolio, which is comprised of “a series of documents that can become part of a guide for collecting in a model agency”.