Grant Progress Report

Colby, Bates and Bowdoin Mellon Grant Progress Report—2008

The Mellon Foundation granted the CBB consortium an award to develop a joint library collection development plan. In our 2006 proposal, the Colby, Bates and Bowdoin College Libraries established the following goals:

  1. Expand the collection of materials available to the CBB academic communities;
  2. Build a faculty culture at each of the three colleges that embraces a shared collection model based on a greatly expanded and diverse collection of print and digital materials relevant to the curriculum and faculty interests; and
  3. Facilitate the sharing of budgetary and space resources, so that all three libraries operate more cost effectively.

Below you will find progress made toward these goals.

Goal 1. Expand the collection of materials available to the CBB academic communities.

CBB began its new joint approval plan on May 1, 2008. Working closely with Yankee Book Peddler (YBP), librarians developed an innovative approach to sharing our collections. During the course of our assessment work last year, we discovered that the similarities in our curricula and therefore our desired areas of collection building far outweighed the differences. While each college curriculum reflects unique strengths, we did perceive similar core curricula. To support them, each library was interested in purchasing materials in the same subject areas from a similar list of publishers. This discovery caused the librarians to move away from a shared plan based on distributing collections responsibility to each college by subject strength or publisher, to a plan that acknowledged our desire to have collection coverage in all core subjects. To accomplish this, we merged our approval plans to a single plan (which immediately eliminated duplication) and asked YBP to rotate the delivery of weekly book shipments among the three schools. This meant random distribution of both publishers and subjects so each school does get a little bit of everything. It also solved the problem of how to equitably divide up the expenditure for each school. Although weekly shipments vary in size and expense, we expect by the end of the year that the annual totals will even out.

We now have almost 800 publishers on our joint list. We anticipate two consequences of eliminating duplication:

  • Greater demand on our resource-sharing systems among the colleges, and with other libraries in MaineCat and NExpress. (MaineCat is an online system that supports direct user requests to borrow books from other Maine libraries; NExpress is a similar system that facilitates sharing among an informal consortium of eight New England liberal arts college libraries). We expect an increased demand for delivering materials among the libraries.
  • An unexpected outcome relates to space. Libraries project growth in subject areas to manage their collection shelving plans. The new joint plan and the random distribution of purchases means that libraries are receiving materials in new subject areas, or at different rates, and therefore, we must consider new models for projecting growth.

Use of Collection Analysis Software Tools

CBB has taken advantage of three online products to help with data collection and analysis for these activities. The libraries implemented two software products, OCLC
WorldCat Collection Analysis and Library Dynamics Spectra, and gained access to raw data and three library collection analysis reports from Yankee Book Peddler (YBP), our most heavily used book vendor.

  • World Cat Collection Analysis loads holdings information contributed by the three libraries in the normal course of cataloging on OCLC. Collection Analysis gives comparable collection comparison data on printed monographs. We have the ability to create an historical look at publication date for materials acquired, along with subject analysis. WCA offers views of overlap and uniqueness by subject, language, and format. Although not specifically targeted to an academic library’s use of Library of Congress classification, we are able to deduce this information through classifications imbedded in the assigned subjects. We found the product to be useful and easily understood by the librarians and bibliographers who tried it.
  • Library Dynamics Spectra, provided limited functionality. Each library was required to load title and circulation data. Our interest in this product was specifically targeted to its ability to provide circulation comparisons. However, the consensus was that the product was still in a developmental stage and needed additional work to be of use to bibliographers
  • Yankee Book Peddler provided information regarding sales of monographs to each school and for comparisons of duplicate title shipments. YBP also gives us a comprehensive view of the publishing world’s output by subject and classification, narrowing this output down to those profiled for academic collections.

Investigating the feasibility and desirability of forming a legal CBB entity for purchasing and licensing materials or for establishing joint ownership of some portions of the collections.

Based on experience with collaborative buying and licensing of electronic databases, indexes, journal packages and full-text content over the past two years, CBB believes that this activity is unnecessary. The CBB consortium is recognized by the vast majority of publishers and content vendors and the consortium has been able to successfully negotiate substantial discounts through collaborative purchasing.

Extending the model approval plan developed in Phase I to all subject areas that can be addressed with monographic approval plans.

Once librarians determined that a discipline-by-discipline sequential assessment of collaborative collection needs was too time-consuming and would not render the desired results, they redirected their energy to identifying a strategy to address all subject areas at the same time.

  • Librarians had YBP set up a ‘virtual’ shared approval plan on which they ran statistical reports to check predictions of its efficacy.
  • They investigated a variety of ways to distribute individual titles across the three libraries ultimately deciding on implementing a random distribution in which each library will be responsible for receiving and adding to their collection all the titles sent from YBP through the CBB joint approval plan for a specific amount of time each year on a rotating schedule. [This amount of time turned out to be weekly.]

CBB Group Communication

In preparation for all portions of our collaborative work, especially the creation of a joint approval plan, librarians needed to develop effective means of communication and expand our understanding of each other’s existing collection development and acquisitions policies and procedures.

  • To address internal communication among the three college libraries, we set up a commercial communication/process sharing tool called BaseCamp to keep the work we need to do in front of us and to track our progress and our decisions.
  • We expect to create a new CBB Libraries site―a shared Web site where we can continue to test our ideas and practices among the members of the consortium, and can make our decisions and policies available to our constituencies and the larger academic community.


Two baseline assessments became crucial in proceeding toward the goal of avoiding duplication of acquisition efforts and giving each school an idea of what we will face in the future.

  • WorldCat Collection Analysis (WCA:). Collection analysis was done across all areas of the collection from 1995 through 2006. The report gave us intercollegiate subject area comparison of total titles, unique titles, and duplicated titles with detail on whether titles were duplicated by two schools, or by all three schools. In 2006, the duplication rate for monographic purchases by two libraries was between 33% and 46% of our current purchases, while duplication of a title by three libraries accounted for 4% of our total purchases. The report also identified subject areas where our combined and individual monograph purchasing was heaviest.
  • Yankee Book Publisher: Unique titles shipped by YBP in FY07 account for 71% of the total titles with 29% duplicated by either two or three libraries. Seventy-six percent of the duplicates went to two schools and 24% went to all three schools. Looking at the numbers by school, duplicates were between 42% and 56% of the total sent.

Goal # 2. Build a faculty culture, at each of the three colleges, that embraces a shared collection model based on a greatly expanded and diverse collection of print and digital materials relevant to the curriculum and faculty interests.

  • Our work is promoted to faculty by making available customized lists of cataloged materials on the three campuses. CBB titles can be accessed in 1) email; 2) through a Web report or; 3) via RSS feeds. These feeds can be tailored to include all materials or just those in subject areas of interest. Although individuals will be able to select their own library as a baseline, we will encourage faculty users to examine titles acquired by all three libraries.
  • The absence of a shared catalog makes it difficult for faculty to think of the CBB collections as one. Librarians are investigating the possibility of using proprietary and open source search applications, such as Encore and AquaBrowser, to develop a unified search to the three catalogs. [We settled on AquaBrowser.]
  • CBB librarians are developing a new library and information services Web site to launch in the first quarter of 2008. It will include descriptions of collaborative projects and the rationale behind our collaborative decisions.

Goal #3. Facilitate the sharing of budgetary and space resources, so that all three libraries operate more cost-effectively.

We have worked through an established CBB Electronic Collections group exploring consortial arrangements with publishers and vendors. Already mentioned is our collaboration with YBP. Along with this, we have entered into a contractual agreement with an e-book platform to recognize the three schools as a consortium.

Shared de-accessioning and storage decisions

  • Discussions on these decisions are ongoing.
  • The CBB libraries are participating in planning for a State of Maine last copy retention facility to be located in Bangor, Maine.

Evaluate progress toward achieving project goals

Bowdoin will address the following issues and will share results with the IR Offices at Bates and Colby. They will edit our list and work with the Bowdoin IR Office to ensure a thorough summative assessment.

  • Comparing statistics on title duplication, number of titles purchased, the rate of borrowing across campuses, and level of spending with our benchmark figures to evaluate the success of our joint approval plan;
  • Evaluating the success of new digital tools (CBB New Materials List, AquaBrowser) that encourage faculty and students to use the libraries collection as one;
  • Assessing the effect of the project on collection building, by discipline, and at each college, including tracing liaison decisions for adding and dropping materials;
  • Evaluating the success of expanding the breadth of collections to encompass more subject areas, such as regional and interdisciplinary studies.

Develop a Collection Management document explaining the strategic vision for a shared plan which will allow the libraries to continue their work at the end of the grant.

  • Our Collection Management document will be comprised of our philosophy, vision, and practical measures that need to be implemented to ensure the successful continuation of the program. It will be collaboratively developed by the CBB working and steering groups. In addition to general policies and statement of practice, the plan will include the collaborative agreements reached by our subject liaisons on shared collections.

In conjunction with the revision of the CBB public web site, we are developing an interactive web site for staff using Drupal software, which will provide subject liaisons with shared digital space for threaded discussions, file sharing and collaborative work. This site will also provide space for storing and sharing all of our CBB policies.


CBB librarians, from the head librarians to the other project librarians, have worked well together toward accomplishing the project goals. Different project groups, including the Steering Committee, Working Group, E-Resources Group, and Special Group working on the Approval Plan, met approximately five times each month, including conference calls. The subject-area liaisons have begun to meet and will continue meeting monthly. From their discussions with other consortia, our project team has found that their history
of collaboration and longstanding agreement on goals provides an ideal environment in which to take on difficult questions of making collaborative decisions that supersede local policies and culture. The working groups have also embraced this consortial work as being as valuable as their own institutional work.

In terms of the faculty culture, librarians sense an acceptance of sharing resources on the part of the faculty at the three colleges, through discussions with their library committees, conversations at new faculty orientations and in individual conversations with subject liaisons on each campus. Faculty have adopted this consortial model because of their confidence in the libraries’ leadership and in the shared infrastructure we have put into place that allows the faculty to see the libraries’ holdings as one and to borrow those resources across campuses.

The CBB consortium is finding ways to contain costs while making more materials available. For example, CBB has been able to negotiate good discounts with vendors for collaborative purchases, especially for electronic databases, journal packages and e-books. In addition, the approval plan agreed to by the colleges is eliminating a large percentage of duplicate book purchasing, allowing the colleges to spend budgets to expand the breadth of the collection.