Chris Sugnet’s extensive experience with library collection development made him the right person for the job of updating a guide to acquiring information in electronic formats. Thus, the American Library Association asked the director of UNLV Libraries’ Collection Management to lead the project.
Originally published in 1994 and updated in 2005 after a “sea change in the information market,” the Guide to Licensing and Acquiring Electronic Information will aid library staff members as they seek the many and varied types of electronic material available today: journals, books, DVDs, videotapes, video games (instructional and recreational), CDROM, software, and locally and remotely loaded full-text content.
Sugnet (pronounced Soon-yā) says the guide is intended to “empower colleagues and help them compete in the new information marketplace.”
“I especially hope it helps institutions in states where limited funding has most seriously impacted accessibility to scholarly information,” says Sugnet, who is responsible for obtaining such materials with the UNLV Libraries’ acquisitions budget of $5 million – an amount that he acknowledges doesn’t go far these days in stocking library shelves.
The guide opens with a discussion of different kinds of electronic material and offers advice on selection, examining the issues associated with such questions as, “What hardware will you need to use the material?” Discussion is offered on major issues to be considered during the acquisition process and the many factors involved in licensing.
“We are now immersed in an environment in which academic library budgets have been battered by the increasing commercialization of the scholarly communication process,” Sugnet says. “This has led to extravagant annual pricing increases for journals and other resources. Unlike most European and all other English-speaking countries, the U.S. does not have a national licensing agency to negotiate the fairest deals. This guide is an attempt to help librarians level the playing field.”
Sugnet’s collaborators on the guide, Stephen Bosch and Patricia Promis, are librarians at the University of Arizona Library. The guide also contains contributions by Trisha Davis of Ohio State University.
“The electronic information environment is changing so rapidly that a year of change in the new millennium equals a decade or more back in the ’80s,” Sugnet says. “A guide like this should be very useful in today’s market.”