Does your academic library rival the ancient library of Alexandria, or are you just starting to build up your collections? No matter what kind of academic library you work at, there’s probably a resource out there that some student on campus needs desperately—and you just don’t have available. Whether it’s a comic book from 1982 or the recently-found footage from Laurel and Hardy’s “Battle of the Century,” sometimes you have to go beyond your library’s walls to help students find what they need.
Today, we’re taking a look at smart ways to expand your library’s offerings. Read on for our ideas.
Find out exactly what you need
At the end of every school year, consider conducting a survey that asks students and faculty what kinds of resources they need. You may find that your school’s music department is looking for some more recordings of 20th century chamber music or that students are jonesing for more Habermas in your modern philosophy selection. This data will give you a strong foundation on which to build your collection.
Rely on other libraries
If you’re not part of an interlibrary loan system, you’re behind the times. Interlibrary loan programs allow you to request material from another library, allowing students to easily access materials you don’t have available. It’s not limited to books, either: you can share special collections and multimedia as well.
If you’re part of an interlibrary loan program, don’t be a mooch. Try to help other libraries out as much as possible. You may be in desperate need of Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, but there may be another library out there willing to send you their copy—and there’s probably another one out there looking for the back issues of Journal of Law and Economics currently gathering dust on your library shelves.
Expand on your collections (smartly!)
Developing your collections doesn’t have to be difficult or costly. Instead, you can find great books that your students actually want to read simply and cheaply. Search online to find great resources at valuable prices. Amazon.com and isbn.nu are great ways to find used books from independent sellers on the cheap, allowing you to bolster your offerings piece by piece.
If students are clamoring for rarer resources, don’t fret. While you may not be able to find Shakespeare’s first folio online, there’s still a wealth of rare books, resources and folios available for your library. Check out this list of resources from ACRL for a full list of places to find those hard-to-find library books and more.
Looking for more ways to get students access to great resources? Download our whitepaper, “Branding Your Library: Insights from Today's Top Academic Librarians” for tips and tricks from the leaders in the academic library field.