Year in Review: Expanding Our E-Resources

As we close out 2023, we want to share some of our biggest achievements from the past academic year. The following is part of a series of highlights from our 2022-23 Library Year in Review. You can read the full report at LMU Digital Commons.

We seek to support our community in many ways, including through the development of robust library collections across formats and across academic disciplines. How do we build these collections?

Collection development is about choices. Which individual books do we buy? If we cannot afford to subscribe to both a scholarly journal in the sciences and a marketing database, how do we choose between the two? We make these choices based upon our knowledge of the curriculum and the research needs and interests of our faculty and students. Additionally, LMU faculty make requests and their deep subject expertise shapes the collection. All those individual choices over many years build the base of our collection, which we can then supplement and modify to meet current needs as scholarship and the LMU curriculum develop.

We strive to match the format of materials to the use case and to user preferences. The gradual move towards more electronic resources has been underway for decades with interplay between increased e-resource offerings in the market and increased demand for these materials from our users. When COVID-19 hit in March 2020 and we closed our physical doors, we moved quickly to provide the highest level of services we could. However, we were already in a strong position to offer access to materials in digital format because we had been building those collections for a long time.

This past year we made our largest e-resource acquisition ever, upgrading to provide the complete collections of Sage and its AM subsidiary (previously Adam Matthew). Sage is a major publisher in the social sciences, education, and business, areas of strength for LMU. Their AM division is focused on primary source collections across the humanities. Until recent years, collections held in specialized libraries and archives were accessible only to scholars who traveled to them, which almost never included undergraduates. AM collections are specialized collections, but designed for non-experts, and since LMU places such a premium on undergraduate research, they are well-suited to our students. LMU faculty have already integrated AM collections into courses, including their Popular Medicine in America, 1800–1900 and American Indian Newspapers collections. We anticipate with expanded access, these collections will rapidly make their way into course syllabi.

As essential as e-resources are, we know that the notion that “everything is online” is a myth. Many of the materials that make our collections special are simply not accessible in electronic format. Sometimes the best and preferred format by readers for a particular item is print and we still purchase over 10,000 print books a year. Truly robust collections are those that fully meet the needs and preferences of the LMU community.