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FAS Collections and Content Council Priorities, FY15

Dear Colleagues,

The spanking new FAS Collections and Content Development Council held its inaugural meeting last week. (The Council’s charter, which outlines its sphere of activity, is attached to this message.) The group first spent some time organizing itself, and then turned to organizing its agenda for the current fiscal year. This exercise overlaps with the FAS Library Heads' and HCL Senior Managers' effort to define objectives for FY15 and beyond, and also anticipates alignment and some consolidation with the priorities that will emerge from the proposed Harvard-wide Collections and Content Development Standing Committee. This message is directed to the community as a whole in order to share the news and invite input as broadly as possible, particularly among Harvard Library staff members who might not see a posting directed only toward FAS.    

FAS Council members have brainstormed an initial list of possible objectives, just below. We’re eager for your additional suggestions, along with your comments on the topics that are already in play. The Council will review all these contributions and propose an action agenda that encompasses a manageable mix of medium-range initiatives and short-term projects to the FAS/HCL leadership group. We expect by mid-September to post a list of activities that the Council will pursue.   

Initial list:

  • Promulgate an FAS library policy for responses to faculty purchase requests. (Also, integrate the purchase request process with ILL/Resource Sharing in order to streamline responses and reduce duplication.)
  • Promulgate a formal policy concerning “sensitive” materials (e.g. hate literature, pornography, bizarre artifacts) in our collections. (This process requires participation beyond FAS, and it should consider measures to increase visibility for the library’s “take down” policy.)
  • Launch a series of open meetings, focused on collection development, for all selectors and interested staff. Meeting agendas will allow participants to share successes and challenges, describe and refine best practices, discuss and anticipate broad trends in the field, etc. These sessions could complement programs associated with the Harvard Library’s “strategic conversations.”
  • Work toward an FAS collections and content strategy.
  • Develop a common method (perhaps a survey?) to gauge user expectations relative to our collections and the associated services.
  • Look closely at how metrics can inform collection development decisions and assessments. What criteria resonate with our various constituencies? How can we most effectively draw from anecdotal, qualitative, quantitative, and other kinds of direct and indirect evidence?
  • Explore funding support for units (e.g. RTL) that generally lack materials budgets, for which some needs fall outside current collections categories.
  • Create an advisory group for the HCL collections budget.
  • Explore BorrowDirect and its role in cooperative collection development, in conjunction with other Harvard libraries and also units including Access Services and ITS.
  • Explore closer coordination with and additional roles for the Office for Scholarly Communication.
  • Develop more robust approaches to data, in conjunction with a host of other players.
  • Encourage shared approval plans. This could include developing common documentation and templates that would apply across different units, and to vendors with different capabilities.
  • Evaluate our vendors in terms of their services and performance, recommending consolidation wherever possible.
  • Explore patron-driven acquisitions and its potential role.
  • Explore print-on-demand and its potential role.
  • Systematize our scattered efforts to understand the interplay between print and electronic formats in order to inform the Library-wide goal of preferring digital to print wherever appropriate.
  • Develop a single, standard, straightforward workflow to deposit PDFs in the DRS.
  • Develop processing expectations and workflows for the “semi-rare” material and primary sources that we are acquiring outside of special collections units.
  • Review collections-related policies that have been promulgated within HCL and HUL, ratifying those that still apply and updating or discarding those that do not.
  • Create a shared site for Council work that makes meeting notes and finished reports readily available to all.   

Please send your suggestions and comments to Dan Hazen ( or Katie Leach (, or to the HLComms list, by Monday, August 25. Many thanks for your contributions!

Dan Hazen
Co-chair, FAS Collections and Content Development Council