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December 20, 2014

JSC Subject Area Surveys: Background and Process

Subject Area Surveys


The UC system-wide Joint Steering Committee on Shared Collections is charged with identifying appropriate mechanisms for shared content development in the various domains (humanities, social sciences, sciences, etc.) to serve UC instructional and research programs. To further this objective, the JSCSC conducts surveys of UC subject selector (bibliographer) groups annually, and collaborates closely with the CDC to set each year's priorities. The JSC analyzes and filters the vast amount of information on dozens of potential resources of interest to the CDC.

Bibliographers from UC's nine campuses assist in the development of the California Digital Library's collections by identifying the rich variety of resources in each discipline that benefit faculty, students, and scholars throughout the system. The recommendations include abstracting and indexing data, textual and multimedia resources addressing all formats-metadata, full-text, images, numeric data, geospatial data, etc.-from all sources.

Survey Process

The CDL Joint Steering Committee on Shared Collections (JSC) reviews the results of the digital collection development surveys, distributed to bibliographers annually. The results of the surveys reflect the expertise, energy, and interest of over two hundred UC subject specialists who participate. The survey has been successful in increasing UC librarian and faculty awareness of the CDL's mission and purpose and in harnessing subject expertise to create lists of worthy candidates for inclusion in the CDL.

The survey is sent to about twenty bibliographer "consultants," each responsible for seeking input from librarian and faculty colleagues in their discipline across the campuses. A liaison from each subject selector group [RTF] works with their Collection Development Liaisons and reports priorities to the JSC. Their combined response includes recommendations and priorities on three kinds of digital content:

  • Those commercially available for purchase or licensing from external vendors, for example, via the world wide web.
  • Those freely available via the Internet that have enough value and stability to merit inclusion in CDL collections via shared cataloging and other bibliographic services (e.g., SFX).
  • Locally produced (UC textual or audiovisual resources), either already in digital form or appropriate for digitization.

Commercial Content

The process of refining the list of “commercial content” (which can be as many as 300 recommended titles) is challenging. The JSC defers titles still available only as CD-ROMs, until the feasibility of handling this format in a distributed fashion is more clearly understood. Other titles will not be considered immediately because they are already adequately accessible at campuses that need them.

Several questions can be applied to the long list of remaining items. Was the item requested for several different subjects? How highly was a title ranked within a given subject? Does its content have proven value? Does digital format offer significant added value? Is its estimated cost reasonable? Will its acquisition encourage progressive providers (e.g., not for profit publishers)? Were UC faculty involved in the creation of its content? Most importantly, is there a consortial advantage in pricing and licensing? In more general terms, the JSC requires for each acquisition a compelling rationale, based on CDL's broader collection policies, defined in Collection Development Framework. The JSC also applies additional collection development principles to these to assist the CDL in formulating a work plan for the fiscal year.

Since the descriptive detail and method of ranking varied greatly among the survey responses, not all of these questions can be answered immediately. However, the JSC expects to identify, in each of the disciplines, one or several items that satisfy enough of these selection criteria to recommend system-wide acquisition.

The JSC welcomes additional information about resources already recommended, especially as these become available in formats which are more manageable in the CDL context. Since the acquisition list is likely to remain dynamic and flexible for the foreseeable future, the CDL will continue to depend on and appreciate the invaluable advice of subject experts from throughout the UC system.

UC Content

The "UC Content" (locally produced UC textual or audiovisual resources) is reviewed by the JSC in consultation with the CDL Director of Built Content, charged with developing CDL primary content. "Open Access" UC content is reviewed in light of progress in CDL Web design and system-wide coordination of cataloging of digital resources.

Publicly Available Web Content

The JSC has begun to review content identified by UC subject selectors that is publicly available on the web (i.e., free or "open access" content created outside of the University of California). Among the selection criteria for recommendation are the value of the content to a subject discipline, the stability of the resource presenting the content, and system-wide coordination of cataloging of digital resources. CDL Shared Cataloging staff will create catalog records for the JSC-recommended resources and make them available for inclusion in the CDL web and local campus online catalogs. There is a policy and process for subject specialists to recommend open access titles.

Last updated: November 09, 2012
Document owner: Wendy Parfrey