Appraising Our Past, Charting Our Future

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COLLECTION AND ACQUISITION SERVICES

Supporting the Curriculum and Programs
The Changing Nature of the Collection
Acquisition Recommendations and Process
Gifts and Special Collections
Collection Services Facts and Figures for 2003-2004

 

The Collection Development and Acquisitions Department is staffed by 2.5 FTE who oversee the selection, purchase and payment of materials in all formats including print, microform and electronic. The Law Library's acquisition program strives to provide a collection which supports the instructional and research needs of the faculty and students in the School of Law. As a secondary objective, the Law Library selects materials for use by the university community as a whole, when feasible. The collection meets the standards set forth by the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools.

Supporting the Curriculum and Programs

Curricular and programmatic changes within the Law School have been significant in the last few years. An aggressive hiring program has attracted career and visiting faculty with varying research interests and curricular specialties which must be supported by the library collection. The upswing in faculty scholarship and other projects (speaking engagements, workshops, CLEs, pro bono work) has translated into additional requests for library material and resources. New curricular programs and initiatives like the Access to Justice Institute, the Seattle Journal of Social Justice, the LL.M. program, the Center on Corporations, Law & Society, the Study Law in Alaska Program, the CLE program, and the international initiatives are supported by library resources. The 1998 reorganization of the upper-division curriculum into focus areas has, on the one hand, helped prioritize curricular areas to be supported by the collection; on the other hand, it has also resulted in a proliferation of new courses, including specialized skills courses and capstone seminars, which require additional support. Many of these courses touch on international and interdisciplinary topics, reflecting the diverse interests of our faculty and the Law School. The Library must provide new resources and materials in these areas.

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The Changing Nature of the Collection

Academic law libraries maintain materials in a variety of formats (electronic, print and others) to meet the demands of a diverse patron-base and new curricular pedagogies. The print collection serves an important role in teaching, is the preferred format for many kinds of research (e.g., statutory) makes materials available to patrons who are unable to use certain databases due to licensing restrictions and provides access to materials that are not available in any electronic format. As a relatively new law school, a significant portion of our collection is in microformat. The Library also provides access to a variety of online resources.These online sources do not necessarily duplicate the print collection, nor are they cheaper than print. In contrast to print and microformats, the Liibrary does not own the content of online databases, but rather leases access. Content and access to certain online resources can change with little warning, forcing the Library to pay additional fees for these materials or do without. Academic law libraries cannot assume that materials on Westlaw, Lexis and other databases, especially resources with archival value, will be available in the future. For the foreseeable future, the Law Library will continue to collect materials in a variety of formats including paper, online, and microformat.

One example of the Library’s commitment to maintaining multiple formats is our growing video collection. In the past few years, there has been a marked increase in faculty requests for purchases of instructional videotapes. Videotapes, due to performance issues and restrictive licensing, can be very expensive, averaging $200 per tape. We currently have over 250 video and DVD titles, since 2001, the Library has spent almost $10,000 on purchases for the video collection. In response to student suggestions, the Library has also expanded our print study aid collection to almost 250 current titles (over 1,000 volumes) and has begun a trial program to purchase one copy of all required first year casebooks for use in emergencies.

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Acquisition Recommendations and Process

The Library welcomes recommendations for additions to the Library collection. Requests for purchases are directed to the Collection Development Librarian who consults with the librarian selector responsible for the applicable subject area. The Library Collection Development Committee and Executive Law Librarian review and consider special or major purchases.

Acquisitions and collection development require balancing financial resources, curriculum needs and long-term collection viability. Because financial resources are limited and the Library is faced with ongoing price increases in the legal publishing industry of 10% to 15%, acquisition decisions must be made with this balancing in mind. The Seattle University Law Library Collection Development Policy and the Seattle University Law Library Federal Depository Collection Policy provide guidance in developing and maintaining the law library collection and information resources.

You can learn about newly acquired resources in a variety of ways:

  • A list of recent acquisitions is located on the Law Library Web site and featured in the Library Newsletter
  • The online newsletter features a regular column called New and Notable with information and reviews on titles of particular interest
  • Select titles are displayed at the Reference Desk
  • Librarians flag materials of interest to faculty

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Gifts and Special Collections

The Library continues to process the personal collection of research materials donated by Leonard Schroeter, a local attorney with a national reputation for outstanding public interest service. The collection is comprised of 150 boxes of material measuring approximately 2,325 linear feet. It encompasses many areas of social justice advocacy, includes unique materials for public interest law scholarship, and complements Seattle University School of Law's commitment to social justice. Mr. Schroeter also loaned the Library original documents from the Brown v. Board of Education and other important desegregation cases, for display in the Library’s Brown exhibits. Mr. Schroeter is interested in donating other significant research materials collected throughout the course of his distinguished career and the Library is appreciative of his generosity and the opportunity to make the materials available to a wide audience.

This year, the Law Library received a seventy-two volume donation from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) containing works on public law and comparative law. This generous donation focusing on public and comparative law substantially expands our Spanish language collection. We look forward to continuing this collaboration between SU and UNAM.

Through an expanded partnership with the Law School CLE department, the Library now adds all SU CLE seminar materials to our collection. These materials, covering a broad range of topics, can be easily accessed through our online catalog.

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Collection Services Facts and Figures for 2003-2004

Titles
   
Book Titles 46,669  
Microform Titles 22,311  
Non-Book Titles 2,424  
Total Titles 71,404  
     
Serials
   
Active Serial Titles 3,087  
Active Serial Subscriptions 3,240  
     

Volumes

   
Non-Microform Volumes 153,817  
Microform Volume Equivalents 194,696  
Total Volumes and Volume Equivalents 348,513  
     
Selected Collections    
Treatise 36,997 titles 59,396 volumes
Reference 1,604 titles 12,301 volumes
Court Periodicals 1,426 titles 24,128 volumes
Open Reserve Unbound Periodicals 852 titles 2,404 issues
Open Reserve Course Material File Folders 497 titles 1,197 files
Open Reserve Books 1,516 titles 2,962 volumes
Closed Reserve Videos 288 titles 780 tapes
Closed Reserve Books 166 titles 576 volumes
Closed Reserve Current Exams 93 titles 488 folders
Walkover 120 titles/volumes  

Other Facts
The oldest book in the collection: La Graunde Abridgement, 1586
The most popular title in the collection: Gilbert's on Property (451 check outs since spring of 2002)
Over 400 new titles were ordered with an average 3 week delivery time
Approximately 4,000 payments were posted to the online catalog

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Aspirations/Challenges

Meeting the challenges of providing resources in all formats (online, print, audio-visual, etc.) to support increased curricular offerings, diverse faculty and student research interests, cocurricular programs and international initiatives while maintaining access to resources for all library patrons, including alumni and main campus constituents will require continued balancing of financial resources. As we move toward integrating more online and digital resources into the collection, digital licensing, management, access, technology, and archival issues become particularly complex and require additional staff time and expertise.