A significant percentage of the Libraries’ collections budget is now devoted to electronic resources, including electronic journals, databases and streaming content. Even so, about 150,000 new print titles are added to the shelves each year. Bringing these resources to students and faculty involves the work of a large, interdisciplinary team of librarians and technicians who apply their scholarly, technical, copyright and other specialized expertise to behind-the-scenes processes which facilitate acquisitions, discovery and access.
Photo description: Houman Behzadi (left) with Ksenya Kiebuzinski, Slavic Studies Librarian, Collection Development Department. Kiebuzinski selects Central-East European monographs for the Music Library.
Music Collection Development Librarian Houman Behzadi, who splits his time between the Faculty of Music Library and the 44-library system’s central Collection Development department, is one player on this interdisciplinary team. Using the deep subject knowledge he gained through graduate degrees and diplomas in music and information science, he selects sound recordings, music scores and scholarly publications—in the areas of musicology and music education, for example—for the library.
Behzadi conducts this work using both new and long-standing techniques. For example, when UTL acquired Medici.tv this year—a collection of concerts, operas, ballets, documentaries, master classes, educational films and artist profiles—he began by studying the resource to determine the research value for U of T. He negotiated the cost with the publisher, which hinges on a variety of factors including the number of students at an institution and how many can simultaneously use the resource. The Libraries’ Digital Collections Librarian, Weijing Yuan, negotiated the licensing terms to assure the maximum use rights for our community of scholars. Behzadi then worked with the Information Technology Services department to make the resource available for streaming via our servers. As with all e-resources, ongoing maintenance is required after the initial purchase, as new items are added to databases by publishers, for example.
For print collections, a significant component of the work Behzadi and his colleagues conduct on a day-to-day basis involves working with vendors who, based on criteria developed by the UTL selectors, send hundreds of thousands of books to the library each year from mainstream publishers, where they are individually evaluated by librarians before they are added to the collection. Streamlining the collection process from major publishers allows librarians to spend more time carefully researching and collecting niche titles from small publishers, even travelling internationally to purchase rare, local material that would otherwise not be available to U of T researchers. This attention to detail is part of what makes UTL’s collections truly world class.
Photo description: Inside the University of Toronto Libraries’ Data Centre.