Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Collection Development Secret

Some years ago when I began ordering science books for my library, I asked a colleague of mine for some advice on what I should be selecting. He gave me some suggestions and he also told me a story.

My colleague was visiting a friend of his who was a senior researcher in one of the sciences at a prestigious university and while they were talking in his friend's office, the phone rang. After the researcher and the other person on the line exchanged short pleasantries, the researcher told the person, who was evidently returning a previous call, that he had been made editor of a forthcoming book on ___ and he asked whether the caller had a paper to submit. The answer was affirmative, quick arrangements were made and the call was shortly finished.

So while some scholarly monographs reflect years and years of sweat and toil, you too should be aware that there also exists a set of scholarly books that are merely collections of recently published or never-published articles.

In a possibly related aside, I have noticed when I have reviewed the circulation counts for the science books that I am responsible for, that there is a tendency for books with very vague titles not to be borrowed as many times as books with very specific titles.

Take these two points together and now you know why I very rarely order books that have titles like these:
  • key topics in ____
  • frontiers in ___ research
  • ___ research advances
  • ___ research trends
  • new aspects of ___
  • perspectives on ___
  • new research on ___
  • focus on ___ research
  • new topics in ___ research
  • new frontiers in ___
  • ___ research frontiers

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