University of Toronto Library. Library Council

Report of the Task Force on Policies and Procedures for Replacements in the UTL Collections
Submitted to University of Toronto Library Council, April 2000

~ Terms of Reference ~ Summary of Recommendations ~ Introduction ~ Recommendations ~ Best Practices for all Library Locations ~ Membership

Terms of Reference

This Task Force was initiated as a result of Library Council Memorandum #27, September 1999.

The terms of reference are:

1. To review current replacement polices and procedures and related collection maintenance practices in the central library system.
2. To examine problems related to current policies and procedures.
3. To consult, as appropriate, campus libraries and recent literature regarding effective replacement and maintenance policies and procedures.
4. To make recommendations to Library Council in January 2000.

Task Force members determined that Serials were not part of its mandate.

Summary of Recommendations

1. That stocktaking is done routinely in all library collections in the Central System.

2. That this Task Force strongly supports the Status Report of the Advisory Committee on Library Space with regard to the need for off-site collection storage facilities.

3. That a library technician position be created in the Collection Development Department to assist in the timely ordering of replacements.

4. That funding be made available to support a digital replacements programme based upon an expanded mandate for the Preservation Services Department.

That the feasibility of extending the digital replacements service to the campus libraries, and to external organizations such as OCUL, be investigated.

5. That adequate funding for replacements always be made available.

6. That where the missing item is from a unique record, the item record be cancelled and the 090 field changed by adding a $r with the message "Last copy cancelled". The record from UTCat would be suppressed but left in Netcat.

That where the missing item is not from a unique record, the item record be eliminated and the 090 field changed by adding a $r with a short clear statement to the effect that the copy at this location is missing. This record would not be suppressed.

7. That the Access and Information Services Department, on behalf of all central libraries, improve the methods by which patrons are enabled and encouraged to report missing items. Methods could include the development of electronic and print "missing book" forms.

8. That the DRA and resource sharing systems be utilized in part as tools for electronically forwarding appropriate Interlibrary Loan/Document Delivery requests to the Collection Development Department.

~ Top of Page ~

Introduction

Questions regarding replacement policies have been asked at various meetings throughout the Central Library system over the past several years. To put the size of the problem into perspective, it should be noted that from Robarts Library and the Gerstein Science Information Centre alone 1500-1600 requests for replacements go forward to the Collection Development Department each year. This figure is based on material marked as missing as a result of a patron initiated search request and where the material has stayed in missing status for a considerable period of time (the actual time period currently varies from library to library).

Confusing DRA item record status messages gives many patrons and staff the impression that the number of books from the UTL collection which are stolen, or borrowed and never returned, and which are never replaced is larger than the Task Force believes it to be.

A review was conducted of the current replacement policies and procedures and related collection maintenance practices of Robarts, Gerstein and OISE/UT. Other campus libraries were consulted, and a review of the literature was conducted. As a result of this review it was clear that practices and procedures did indeed vary from place to place and that a drawing together of best practices from the various participant libraries would be beneficial.

The report is divided into two parts. Part I is a list of all the problems discussed, each followed by a recommendation to alleviate the problem. Part II is a list of "Best Practices" which the Task Force is asking individual locations throughout the U of T Library System to examine and consider adopting.

~ Top of Page ~

Part I Recommendations

1. The Library does not know how many books are actually missing.
The best way to determine whether or not patron perceptions about the large number of missing items is correct is to do a systematic inventory of all the Central Library's collections. The members of the Task Force recognize that completing a systematic inventory is a difficult goal to attain. Nevertheless, we want to make it clear that we feel strongly about the importance of stocktaking of entire collections. To be practical, we recommend that to begin the process libraries target the most heavily used parts of the collection. The Gerstein Science Information Centre adopted this approach. Subclasses of heavily used call number ranges were selected, of which printed lists were produced by ITS in call number order. These lists included the barcode number(s) associated with a call number and the date of last transaction. After the shelves were checked, the relatively small number of items not found would be checked on the computer to see if they could be accounted for there. Items not found were searched a second time, at a later date, both on the shelves and in the computer. Items that were found but had dummy barcode records were properly barcoded as part of the same process.

The benefits of this approach include the return of misshelved items, the identification of missing books so that they may be replaced, and the generation of data on the number of books actually missing from the collection. In the case of Gerstein, data drawn from the three sub-classes checked has revealed a loss rate much lower than expected: from 1.33% to 2.39% missing. Extrapolating from the three subclasses that Gerstein has completed they believe it would be possible to check all new class monographs in their collection in a period of about five years.

The members of the Task Force believe that project funding will be required to carry out our first recommendation, at least with regard to the Robarts collection.

Recommendation 1
That stocktaking is done routinely in all library collections in the Central System.

2. Crowding of the collection in the Robarts Library has meant that searching is not very effective.
Another lesson that the Task Force felt could be learned from the Gerstein experience had to do with the spacing out of the collection. At one point all the monographs in the collection were jammed on to B level. Crowding was so severe that shelving became a serious challenge. Books could not be shelved properly but were placed sideways on top of the shelf of books where they belonged. The benefits in properly spacing out the collection became clear once the collection could be spread to the 2nd floor, A level and B level. Both shelving and searching became more efficient tasks.

The ARL standard regarding maximum workable capacity for regular library stacks is 75%-80% capacity. Given this standard it is evident that the Robarts Library and others have reached a level that can best be described as severe overcrowding.

Recommendation 2
That this Task Force strongly supports the Status Report of the Advisory Committee on Library Space with regard to the need for off-site collection storage facilities.

3. Understaffing in the Collection Development Department has meant that requests for replacements cannot always be handled in a timely fashion.
The Task Force learned that requests for all replacements in the humanities and social sciences are channeled through the Collection Development Department head. Collection Development will investigate alternative procedures involving selectors. However, this does not obviate the need for additional staff time to place the actual replacement orders and adopt other routines for the large number of titles which are either out of print or simply not readily available. For example, certain Internet sites such as Advanced Book Exchange, Alibris and Bibliofind are proving to be good sources for out of print titles and should be searched regularly.

Recommendation 3
That a library technician position be created in the Collection Development Department to assist in the timely ordering of replacements.

4. Many missing books are difficult to replace.
Another potential solution to find replacements for out of print material would be to utilize the services of the Preservation Services Department. Until now the Department has confined its operations primarily to commercial ventures such as UT Back in Print. However, the "Maintenance and Management of Collections" provisions in both the Canadian Copyright Act and the new University of Toronto/Cancopy Licensing Agreement indicate that the Library is free, within certain limitations, to make replacement copies of works which are either out of print or not commercially available. Such a possibility would mean that most missing material could, in fact, be replaced if the Library so chose. This, in turn, suggests that a much larger number of replacement requests would be identified and forwarded to the Collection Development Department than the 1500 - 1600 requests currently submitted annually. It is impossible to predict with any reliability what the increased magnitude of requests might be, or whether annual quotas, for example, might have to be instituted to help manage the increased demand. At the very least, however, an expanded "digital" replacements programme would unquestionably have a significant impact on staffing in the Preservation Services and Collection Development departments, as well as a lesser impact on binding and cataloguing budgets. There would also be an impact on the equipment budget if additional scanners were required to support an expanded Preservation Services mandate. It is important to note here that the Head of Preservation Services indicates that one FTE at the LT4 level can produce about 300 books per year. It is very likely that the annual increase in demand for replacement copies would equal or surpass this number.

Over the years, the Preservation Services Department has developed a unique repository of specialized skills and equipment relating to the digitization of library materials for which nothing comparable exists either commercially or at other universities in the province. The Library has an opportunity to capitalize on this investment by extending the proposed digital replacements programme even farther. The External Review of the University of Toronto Libraries recommended both "increased formal cooperation among all of the libraries within the University" and "greater collaborative arrangements…provincially…". The Library could progress towards the realization of these goals if it were to offer the proposed "digital replacements service" to the campus libraries in the first instance and to the OCUL libraries, for example, in the second instance. Such initiatives would, of course, highlight the Library's leading position as a centre of expertise in scanning and digitizing technologies. These initiatives would also represent concrete examples of the more formal interdependent relationships recommended in the External Review.

Recommendation 4
That funding be made available to support a digital replacements programme based upon an expanded mandate for the Preservation Services Department.

That the feasibility of extending the digital replacements service to the campus libraries, and to external organizations such as OCUL, be investigated.

5. There is not always enough money available to purchase replacements.
The Task Force heard that a lack of funds may be an impediment to purchasing replacements, depending on the budgetary situation at the time the request for replacements is made. This will become a serious problem when inventories are taken and the replacement programme expanded.

Recommendation 5
That adequate funding for replacements always be made available.

6. Status messages in UTCat cause confusion, as do the presence of records for missing items that have not been replaced.
The Task Force recognizes that the wording of item record status messages is confusing for both patrons and staff. Specifically, "Assumed Lost", "Claims Returned", and "Missing", are misleading patrons into thinking that more books are unaccounted for than is actually the case. In the past the Library has asked DRA to change the wording on status messages, but without success. Thus, the best route to take at this point would be to better educate staff and students as to the meaning of the status messages.

Further confusion in UTCat is caused by the existence of records for items that are missing and have never been replaced. Some locations, like Gerstein, automatically delete the record if the selector has determined not to replace the book. Others, like Robarts, have decided to keep the record in UTCat as a historical record of what was once in the collection. The best argument for keeping these records in the collection is to allow selectors to easily generate a list of missing books as it becomes possible to find digital replacements. The solution arrived at involves suppressing unique records for missing books from UTCat, but allowing them to remain in Netcat; and for records with multiple copies, deleting the item record and placing a clear statement in the 090 field to the effect that the location's copy of that particular item is missing.

Recommendation 6
That where the missing item is from a unique record, the item record be cancelled and the 090 field changed by adding a $r with the message "Last copy cancelled". The record from UTCat would be suppressed but left in Netcat.

That where the missing item is not from a unique record, the item record be eliminated and the 090 field changed by adding a $r with a short clear statement to the effect that the copy at this location is missing. This record would not be suppressed.

7. Patrons may have difficulty in knowing how to report missing material.
The "search" services of the libraries are an effective and mutually beneficial method for identifying missing material. The Task Force members agreed that improvements should be made in the methods by which the libraries inform users about the search service and how to use it. In addition, if the users were encouraged to report materials which they could not locate, regardless of their wish to have the materials searched and held for them, even more information about what replacements are needed would be gathered. Information about search services and a form for reporting missing books could be prominently placed on the library's web-site. Consideration should also be given to having similar information printed on a bookmark or in other printed brochures and also posted on the stack floors in the Robarts Library. Printed "missing book" forms and boxes in which to deposit them could be made available on the Robarts stack floors (and in other libraries) to make reporting even more convenient. Only those who want to have material held for them, if found, would need to visit the Loan Services or Check-out Desks to initiate a search.

Recommendation 7
That the Access and Information Services Department, on behalf of all central system libraries, improve the methods by which patrons are enabled and encouraged to report missing items. Methods could include the development of electronic and print "missing book" forms.

8. There is no easy way to utilize Resource Sharing requests to determine which missing items are in high demand.
One way of determining which missing material is in high demand by patrons would be to monitor interlibrary loan/document delivery requests. Unfortunately there is currently no way to generate such information in the existing resource sharing computing environment, nor is manual photocopying/forwarding of all requests submitted practicable. The recent purchase of an automated resource sharing management system, however, provides an opportunity for the Library to take a proactive approach in utilizing interlibrary loan/document delivery data for collection development purposes.

Recommendation 8
That the DRA and resource sharing systems be utilized in part as tools for electronically forwarding appropriate interlibrary loan/document delivery requests to the Collection Development Department.

~ Top of Page ~

Part II Best Practices for all Library Locations

During the Report drafting process it became clear that a number of the issues that were being formulated as recommendations, reflected differing practices and procedures that had been developed in different locations to deal with the same sort of problems. The Committee has taken the view that rather than try and "legislate" such things we would outline what we felt were the "best practices" gathered from all the participating libraries and encourage staff to adopt them voluntarily.

Best Practices for all Library Locations

1. That patrons be encouraged to place search requests for material they cannot find.
2. That all locations mark the items they search, "missing", no later than one week after they have been searched and not found.
3. That requests to replace missing items be forwarded to the appropriate book selector or department for replacement consideration no later than one year after they are marked missing.
4. That the format for advising selectors as to what material is in need of replacement be computer generated lists that include call number, author, title, circulation information and date that the item status of missing was applied.
5. That, where appropriate, Internet sites such as Advanced Book Exchange, Alibris and Bibliofind be used to search for out of print material that selectors want to replace.

~ Top of Page ~

Membership

Graham Bradshaw
Jane Clark
Dan D'Agostino (co-chair)
Valerie Downs
Bonnie Horne (co-chair)
Lari Langford
Michael Rosenstock

~ Top of Page ~

Back to: Reports and Draft Documents