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Wednesday, March 27 • 1:30pm - 2:50pm
Assess Don't Assume: What Gets Considered When Choosing Print vs. Digital

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Note: This session will be video-recorded and uploaded to the ARLIS/NA Learning Portal.

This panel examines how library collections operate and exist to best serve users in an increasingly complex research landscape. Panelists from academic and museum libraries discuss strategies and assessments that support new directions in collection development practice and consider everything from reference to rare and print to digital. Topics discussed include how to determine if library collections are obtaining and holding the most relevant formats; how to best understand digital vs. print resources as they relate to research and pedagogy; and the tools that support researchers in their quest for valuable works, such as facsimiles.

While many libraries use approval plans to conduct the majority of their collection development, Virginia Commonwealth University closed their academic approval plan in 2014. Emily Winthrop discusses collection development without large approval plans. Collections are moving toward a bibliographic landscape where print and digital share almost equal footing and students are trained in digital production in greater measure than physical media. In order to balance the acquisition of digital resources with that of print and other physical resources and to best utilize digital and print in various teaching, research, and creative situations, librarians need to evaluate and understand acquisition options.

Using statistics and anecdotal feedback from faculty about the resources they request when both digital and print formats are available, along with current scholarship on cognition and retention of information gained from print vs. digital sources, Deborah Ultan and Alan Michelson shed light on future acquisition decision-making. Across libraries big and small, many libraries are deaccessioning or sending print reference materials offsite (and out of sight) with a shifted focus on digital resources.

Gwen Mayhew, in the Thomas J. Watson Library in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Annalise Welte, formerly at The Met, now Reference Librarian at The Getty Research Institute, have been re-examining print art reference materials in their collection with the goal of helping staff, and by extension, researchers, better utilize print resources that digital resources don't cover.

Medieval manuscript facsimiles are often difficult to find in library catalogs; cataloging involves bibliographic information that a printed book would have, but not necessarily information most sought after by those who wish to study medieval manuscripts—style of art, time period, place of origin, or genre are just a few nuggets of value to the scholar which are often not discoverable through a library catalog. Giovanni Scorcioni and Kiana Jones from the University of Pittsburgh will highlight an innovative new software system, Facsimile Finder for Libraries (FF4L), which uses both visual and textual descriptions to more easily enable researchers to discover these materials.

Learning Objectives
  • Gain a better understanding of digital vs print resources as it relates to collection development and to pedagogy.
  • Considerations of how to critically assessment of technology.
  • Methods of surveying and acquiring publications without approval plans.

avatar for Andi Back

Andi Back

Fine Arts and Humanities Librarian, University of Kansas


Annalise Welte

New York University
avatar for Deborah Ultan

Deborah Ultan

Art & Performing Arts Librarian, Curator of the Gorman Rare Art Books and Media Collection, Curator of the Performing Arts Archive, University of Minnesota Libraries

Alan Michelson

Head, Built Environments Library, University of Washington, University of Washington
avatar for Gwen Mayhew

Gwen Mayhew

Head of Collection Access, Canadian Centre for Architecture
avatar for Kiana Jones

Kiana Jones

Fine Arts Librarian, Frick Fine Arts Library - University of Pittsburgh

Emily Davis Winthrop

Arts Collections Librarian, Virginia Commonwealth University
avatar for Giovanni Scorcioni

Giovanni Scorcioni

Facsimile Finder
I'm the founder of FacsimileFinder.com, the largest distributor specializing in illuminated manuscript facsimile editions for the North American library market. I can help you with your collection development policies in art history and provide you with expensive items at competitive... Read More →

Wednesday March 27, 2019 1:30pm - 2:50pm MDT
Grand America Hotel: Savoy (1st Floor) 555 Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84111