Collection policy in a changing library environment

The Helsinki University Library is drafting a new policy for library materials which elicits the essential strategies for providing library material. In the future, the policy will be revised annually.

The purpose of the strategies documented in the materials policy is to disclose to library patrons the grounds for the conclusions we come to in making decisions and choices concerning materials when the resources we have are limited. For example, we are only able to heed our patrons’ wishes pertaining to acquisitions to a certain extent. The strategies in the materials policy also construe the library’s internal activities and help us support the staff in their work. 

The mission of the Helsinki University Library is to offer university teachers, students, researchers and other members of staff access to the information they need in their work. This defines the library’s primary patronage for which the services pertaining to materials are developed. The library is open to all, but the information the library offers must be directed towards supporting the activities and aims of the university especially.

A changing library environment

We would like to take advantage of different opportunities in providing our patrons access to information. The only alternatives are no longer (and have not been for a long time) purchasing printed books or subscribing to periodicals and accumulating volumes for the library’s collections or organizing remote services to supplement them. At the moment, periodicals are available electronically for the most part, and the same change is taking place with books.

Open Access publications began with periodicals and articles, and they are now becoming more common with books.

Selecting books may also involve forms of patron driven acquisition, and it may be necessary to provide access to material for a short time only and to a small group of users. It is not possible to acquire all of the material to be used and stored forever.

For this reason, library experts must be aware of the primary needs of the patrons and be able to distinguish between core material for long-term use and material needed for a short time.

We want to promote open science

In our materials policy, we also take a stand in favour of open science. We want to do our part in promoting the worldwide visibility, availability and dispersion of publications and research data produced at the University of Helsinki by supporting open publication in the university.

Analyzing and utilizing reliable statistics pertaining to usage are an important part of the work in collection development. Changes increase the need to engage in diverse collaboration with various stakeholders for the benefit of our patrons.

Head of Collections Helsinki University Library