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Convegno internazionale sullo sviluppo delle raccolte
International conference on collection development

Current issues in collection development: Italian and global perspectives

Bologna, February 18, 2005

Maurizio Vivarelli
Beyond the records.
Projects and collection management experiences at the Forteguerriana Library, Pistoia

1. Introduction

The main object of this contribution is to illustrate the criteria, methods and procedures adopted in the management of bibliographic collections at the Forteguerriana Library of Pistoia, at this present stage strongly influenced at cultural, bibliographical and library economics level by the new public library project, an enormous structure of around 4,000 sq. m. due to open in the spring of 2007. [1]

The reasons for addressing the complex problems involved in the management of bibliographic collections are correlated to this project, which has offered the conditions for a reappraisal of the library's documentary core, with the primary objective of having the culture of preservation and the culture of service coexist under a single roof, in a tendentially harmonious way, thus giving rise to the concept of a library clearly expressed many years ago by Emanuele Casamassima. [2]

The proposed harmonization is certainly not easy to achieve, due to the diachronically defined complexity of the library's bibliographic physiognomy and the variegated cultural options that have characterized its activity. [3]

The collection management activities described below have therefore been planned and initiated in accordance with the progressive delineation of the new library's bibliographical and organizational physiognomy and the simultaneous redefinition of the methods of use of historical collections.

In the background the idea that has been present in library economics thinking for many years remains: that of the library as a system. An approach that clearly favours the connection and integration of the criteria and techniques of selection, management, and use of available documentary items, with strong emphasis on the cultural and informational environment of which the library is part. [4]

If the library is a system and therefore can be represented through a network, it is not clear what is the centre, a concept which is indeed in some way antinomic in respect to the model structure. For the sake of simplicity, let us establish that, from our point of view, the bibliographic collections, or rather, their cultural and information contents made available to a community of users through the bibliographic collections, are at the centre of the library.

These initial considerations imply a further assumption, already inferred from the title of this work. If the contents of the collections are at the centre of the system, then their quality automatically becomes one of the essentially basic elements of the overall quality of the system. It follows therefore that the quality of the information retrieval and representation tools correlated to those information contents, depends on and is subordinated to binding respect of the pre-condition expressed here in brief. The complex theme of content management is, in turn, one of the main arguments of current scientific and professional thinking and is closely interlinked with the new methods of organising the information structure of documentary items and the consequent role of mediation that the library is obliged to redefine in the digital universe. [5]

2. The quality of bibliographic collections and the need for review

An appraisal of the bibliographic components of collections, their quality and the concrete method of use by patrons, as stated above, can only be conceived organically, according to an interpretation which, insofar as regards Italian professional literature, is best expressed by the observations put forward by Giovanni Solimine [6]. Taking this into account, one must necessarily share Solimine's assertion that "a review is one of the phases of collection management activities" [7] In this perspective, implying the adoption of precise options in library economics model-producing terms, and with a sharp awareness of the complexity of the problems involved [8], the following briefly-described review activities have been delineated and implemented over recent years at the Biblioteca Forteguerriana of Pistoia and are deeply entrenched in the gradual introduction of management policies. The central importance of bibliographic collections (both historical and current), their textual content and use connote library strategies and services, particularly in regard to the overall redefinition of the role, functions and services of the new library, whose very general inspirational criteria are briefly described in chapter III.

In this sense (of the various tools used in the technical management of products) the Collection Development Policy Statement drawn up in 1999, should be recalled first since it sets out the general criteria from which the library draws inspiration for the development of its documentary resources; this general planning document is linked to annual collection development plans through which the public are made aware of the bibliographic and documentary guidelines that form the basis for acquisitions for the current year.

All planning documents are available for reference at the following website: <http://www.comune.pistoia.it/museibiblioteche/Forteguerriana/index.htm>.

3. Knowledge items on the bibliographic structure of resources

Basic information on the bibliographic components of library resources was elaborated during a period of training undertaken by Katiuscia Dormi under the direction of Piero Innocenti, financed by the Tuscan Regional Authorities, within the overall framework of a close collaboration with the Department of the history and culture of texts and documents of Tuscia University in Viterbo. Dormi's work, aimed at analysing the characteristics and functions of the present library reference apparatus [9], has been integrated with a report submitted by Piero Innocenti to the Convention: Costruire la conoscenza. Nuove biblioteche pubbliche dal progetto al servizio. The report and material submitted during the training period, further elaborated by the authors, later became a contribution entitled Le vie della Storia, come quelle del Signore, sono infinite. La consultazione in biblioteca: dalla "socialdemocrazia imperfetta" alla Internet, available on line at: <http://www.unitus.it/dipartimenti/discutedo/kati.htm>, and, finally, part of a further contribution to the volume of convention papers, currently in print. [10]

Within the general framework of these activities, data were firstly acquired on the functional organisation of the Biblioteca Forteguerriana collections, with the aim of getting a general idea of their components and how many of them are in fact available to the community. The collection and evaluation of these data serve to improve planning of the present physiognomy of the service and its general reorganization based on the project in hand.

The following table shows the components of the library's electronic catalogue (which contains some 150,000 records overall) with data referring to the records that include the Dewey Decimal Classification index.

Table 1

Components of Library catalogue, broken down by class

Classes

Total

%

000

6544

8,463

100

3514

4,544

200

1807

2,336

300

11286

14,596

400

1447

1,871

500

3212

4,154

600

3426

4,43

700

8558

11,068

800

29734

38,454

900

7794

10,079

General total

77322

99,995

The work, which begins from these basic knowledge item, is still in its early stages. On the basis of these items and from initial evaluations, the decreasing succession of the following values when ordered by components appears evident: 800, 300, 700, 900, 000, 100, 600, 500, 200, 400. This significant lack of composite uniformity needed such an in-depth analytical survey to ascertain the real composition of classified book resources, that it has been broken down to the point of ascertaining components based firstly on the 100 DDC divisions and then in respect of the 1000 sections. The survey data are set out in Tables 3 12. This research has proved to be an excellent means for achieving a simultaneous analytical-synthetic vision of real book resources and has underlined the need to aim at a more rational acquisition policy in order to satisfy the library's institutional ends and also, in more general terms, to suit the information needs of actual and potential patrons.

Additional knowledge items on the functional structure of resources available at this stage are shown in the following tables.

Table 2 [11]

Resources available for loan, broken down by Dewey classes and divisions [12]

Classes

Divisions

Total

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

0

354

288

417

16

0

25

43

157

62

77

1439

1

88

128

155

131

150

801

53

157

195

694

2552

2

69

21

86

139

85

22

140

182

140

238

1122

3

1304

34

1272

2040

707

259

578

1292

130

303

7919

4

113

132

46

21

57

228

7

59

25

41

729

5

322

363

128

298

96

146

27

352

64

269

2065

6

47

821

272

211

134

158

44

25

36

23

1771

7

623

207

533

119

666

597

58

121

638

946

4508

8

811

1311

2027

1213

1529

6713

534

379

317

700

15534

9

364

470

116

473

2690

235

59

170

67

9

4653

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

42292

Table 3

Number of monthly loans / CDD classes and divisions (monthly average) [13]

Classes

Divisions

Total

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

0

29,00

3,33

9,17

0,17

0,00

0,83

0,67

2,33

2,17

0,83

48,50

1

3,33

6,33

7,83

6,67

5,00

37,50

2,17

6,33

11,50

29,33

116,00

2

3,50

0,17

2,17

2,00

2,00

1,00

3,00

9,00

4,17

10,83

37,83

3

41,67

1,33

36,17

39,50

33,67

5,83

19,67

55,00

3,50

11,83

248,17

4

2,33

4,67

0,67

0,17

1,33

5,83

1,67

1,67

0,67

0,50

19,50

5

4,67

19,00

3,83

13,67

4,83

3,17

0,67

12,67

1,50

0,67

64,67

6

1,50

29,33

25,67

5,33

2,33

8,67

0,83

0,83

1,17

2,17

77,83

7

25,50

9,00

35,17

4,67

3,17

15,67

1,17

3,50

13,83

18,50

130,17

8

31,50

37,33

67,17

48,67

47,67

195,17

27,50

20,17

15,67

25,50

516,33

9

11,50

16,67

1,67

13,17

86,17

6,33

1,50

4,67

1,50

0,00

143,17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1402,17

Table 4

Average monthly circulation index for the first six months of 2000

(Ratio between the number of loans per subject per number of works owned, broken down by subject)

Classes

Divisions

 

0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

0

8,19

1,16

2,20

1,04

0,00

3,33

1,55

1,49

3,49

1,08

1

3,79

4,95

5,05

5,09

3,33

4,68

4,09

4,03

5,90

4,23

2

5,07

0,79

2,52

1,44

2,35

4,55

2,14

4,95

2,98

4,55

3

3,20

3,92

2,84

1,94

4,76

2,25

3,40

4,26

2,69

3,91

4

2,06

3,54

1,45

0,79

2,34

2,56

23,81

2,82

2,67

1,22

5

1,45

5,23

2,99

4,59

5,03

2,17

2,47

3,60

2,34

0,25

6

3,19

3,57

9,44

2,53

1,74

5,49

1,89

3,33

3,24

9,42

7

4,09

4,35

6,60

3,92

0,48

2,62

2,01

2,89

2,17

1,96

8

3,88

2,85

3,31

4,01

3,12

2,91

5,15

5,32

4,94

3,64

9

3,16

3,55

1,44

2,78

3,20

2,70

2,54

2,75

2,24

0,00

Average monthly index 3,32

 

4. Review of division 340

Collection review activities began in 2000, the year in which the previously mentioned collaboration with the Department of the history and culture of texts and documents began. Based on this collaboration, two training periods were undertaken by Maria Cristina Mencato and Katiuscia Dormi, whose scientific advisers were Giovanni Solimine and Piero Innocenti. Mencato's work, further re-elaborated and developed, formed part of her degree thesis entitled Gestione e revisione delle raccolte. Un caso di studio: la Biblioteca Forteguerriana di Pistoia; discussed in 2001, under the supervision of Giovanni Solimine.

The various review stages, from the specification of bibliographic criteria to the succession of steps taken, are described at length in Mencato's thesis referred to above. Firstly, we give below details of the criteria which led to delimiting the review sphere to the works included in division 340 of the Dewey Decimal Classification [14].

Subsequently, through various stages of methodological elaboration, it was necessary to identify a date which was significant for the life of the institute and in some way also conventional, from which to begin the review, considering all volumes prior to that date as part of the institute's historical collection. Based on various significant elements in the history and organization of the library, the date was established as 1960. It should be pointed out that, at this stage, it is impossible to examine the usage index of individual books, since they cannot be elaborated with the software currently used for book loan management.

Briefly, the following were not reviewed:

Various other elements were, however, individuated, succinctly specified below, on the basis of which the review methodology was formulated:

Lastly, a grid scheme was devised, shown in Table 5, in which the following data were reported:

Table 5 [15]

Publication

M/S

Reasons

Replacements

Luhmann Niklas, Sociologia del diritto, Bari, Laterza, 1977.

Biblioteca di cultura moderna. 796. CDD: 340.115. COLL.: B. 14581. Inv no. 107200

M

Updated

Bettini Romano, Sociologia del diritto positivo, Franco Angeli, 1999, L. 22.000

Carbonnier Jean, Flessibile diritto. Per una sociologia del diritto senza rigore, edited by De Vita A., Giuffrè, 1997, L. 46.000

The work involved examining 1,031 books. Re-utilization options were as follows:

5. Review of reference material

The survey also determined reference material, broken down according to presently available space, as follows:

As shown in Table 1, all publications preserved in the storeroom, ordered according to size, included in the electronic catalogue, complete with Dewey classification number and not part of nucleuses 1 - 3 were taken into consideration. This enabled the relations between reference material accessible on open shelving and the rest of documentary stock to be assessed.

Table 6

Reading Room. Distribution in absolute values and by class

Classes

Total

%

000

61

3,603

100

53

3,13

200

33

1,949

300

385

22,74

400

135

7,974

500

201

11,872

600

375

22,15

700

262

15,475

800

78

4,607

900

110

6,497

General total 1693

99,997

Table 7

Reference Room. General scheme

Symbol

Subject

Quantity

%

ART =

Art

30

1,71

BIB =

Bibliography

623

35,68

BIO =

Biography

5

0,28

DIZ =

Dictionaries

12

0,68

ENC =

Encyclopaedias

2

0,11

FS =

Historical sources

208

11,91

LC =

Classic

literature

446

25,54

LI =

Italian literature

263

15,06

ST =

Tuscan section

157

8,99

General total 1746

99,96

 

The so-called Information Service consists of 297 items, organised according to the Dewey Decimal Classification, but classified in accordance with their first three letters. This nucleus of books has been arranged to provide a prompt response to basic information needs. For roughly three months between May and July 2002, this service was monitored, using an appropriate system, to ascertain the main needs of patrons.

6. Unsolved problems

The briefly described initiatives clearly show the complexity of achieving a correct methodological approach to book collection management, especially in a library like the Biblioteca Forteguerriana which has a stratified bibliographic physiognomy and in which, based only on very preliminary considerations, the bibliographic nature of the concept of "obsolescence" is clearly evident.

Similarly complex is the undoubtedly inconstant relationship between how the collections are and how they should be or, if you prefer, between the actual library and the ideal library. This echoes the discussions which are developed, albeit problematically, in the work of Innocenti and Dormi referred to earlier, and which endeavour to recover the importance, by placing them in present-day context, of the discussions which accompanied the publication of Guida alla formazione di una biblioteca pubblica e privata [16].

Hypothesizing the availability of instruments to monitor the level of collection use does little to shift the problem which, basically, remains that of selecting and evaluating the quality of collections, and, also, of interpreting their use, carefully avoiding irrational adhesion and systems supporting deterministic decisions of a purely quantitative nature. It is therefore a matter of carefully weighing up the use of usage indexes, by discussing their complex relationship with the concrete information needs of library patrons.

Lastly, and perhaps the most central of all the issues dealt with, is the need for the clear conviction that even more important than mediation tools are the contents made available through those tools. Precisely for this reason, therefore, all components of the library should be seen as a communication-oriented organic structure which differentiates its strategies according to its tools: the contents of its collections, catalogue, organization of space, conceptual and physical ordering of collections, structure of web space with which the library is present on the network.

Complex problems which are certainly not new, the main one being the cultural and professional competence necessary to carry out these activities in real libraries. To conclude, and precisely to honour that historic dimension, I should like to quote an meaningful passage from Gabriel Naudé's celebrated Advis [17]:

He who is worthy of undertaking this assignment makes no artful or reckless judgement, acts without extravagance and is not preoccupied with childish opinions which incite many people promptly to reject all that is not to their liking, as though everyone should act according to the whims of their fantasy or though it were not the duty of every wise and prudent man to speak of things impartially, never judging according to the opinions of others, but rather giving judgement in relation to their use and nature.

References

[1] The project, co-ordinated by architect Massimo Pica Ciamarra, has been realized by Pica Ciamarra Associati of Naples. For a general framework of the project characteristics, reference should be made to Costruire la conoscenza. Nuove biblioteche pubbliche dal progetto al servizio. Atti del convegno, Pistoia, 6-7 December 2001, edited by Alessandra Giovannini, Florence, Tuscany Regional authorities - Pagnini e Martinelli editori, 2002.

[2] Toscana, Department of Education and Culture, La legge toscana per le biblioteche, edited by Francesco Gravina, Florence, Tuscany Regional Authorities, 1977, p. 41. The reference is taken from a document entitled Osservazioni sullo schema di decreto delegato concernente il trasferimento alle Regioni a statuto ordinario delle funzioni amministrative statali in materia di "assistenza scolastica e musei e biblioteche di enti locali". Biblioteche. Edited by the Department of Education and Culture, in collaboration with Prof. Emanuele Casamassima. Florence, August 1971.

[3] The Biblioteca Forteguerriana foundation, one of the oldest in Italy, traditionally dates back to 1473, when the Pia Casa di Sapienza and the adjoining Forteguerri College was set up following a donation made by Cardinal Niccolò Forteguerri (1419-1473). For an initial historic-bibliographic framing cf. Maurizio Vivarelli, La Biblioteca Forteguerriana di Pistoia, "Wuz. La rivista del collezionista di libri" 2, 2003, 3, p. 35-41; Id., Anton Maria Rosati (1732-1810), erudito e bibliotecario, currently in print by Brigata del Leoncino Editions of Pistoia.

[4] For an initial framing of these topics, reference should be made to Giovanni Solimine, La biblioteca. Scenari, culture, pratiche di servizio, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2004, p. 67 et seq.

[5] Cf. John M. Budd - Bart M. Harloe, Collection development and scholarly communication in the 21st century: from collection management to content management, in Collection management for the 21st century. A handbook for librarians, edited by G.E. Gorman and Ruth H. Miller, Westport, Connecticut-London, Grenwood Press, 1997, p. 3-25. For an initial approach to these themes, reference should belmade to Le patrimoine: histoire, pratiques et perspective, edited by J.P. Oddos, Paris, Editions du cercle de la libraire, 1997; Bertrand Calenge, Les politiques d'acquisition. Constituer une collection dans une bibliothèque, Paris, Editions du cercle de la libraire, 1994. Italian production consists basically of the classic Rinaldo Lunati, La scelta del libro per la formazione e lo sviluppo delle raccolte, Florence, L.S. Olschki, 1972 ; Madel Crasta, La costruzione delle raccolte, in Lineamenti di biblioteconomia, edited by Paola Geretto, Roma, La Nuova Italia Scientifica, 1991, p. 43-78; Carlo Carotti, Costruzione e sviluppo delle raccolte, Roma, Aib, 1997. Lastly, the following work by Kenneth Whittaker has recently been translated into Italian Systematic evaluation. Methods and sources for assessing books (Metodi e fonti per la valutazione sistematica dei documenti, Italian edition by Patrizia Lucchini and Rossana Morriello, Manziana (Rome), Vecchiarelli, 2002).

[6] Cf. in particular G. Solimine, Le raccolte delle biblioteche. Progetto e gestione, Milan, Editrice Bibliografica, 1999.

[7] Ivi, p. 209.

[8] "The choice of acquisitions is, as will be realized, of paramount importance and difficulty, since it is responsible for interpreting the combination of the bibliographic reality of past and present-day requirements and the hypothetical needs of the future": Alfredo Serrai in Guida alla biblioteconomia, Florence, Sansoni, 1981, p. 47.

[9] The final version of the work analyzes the overall structure of the electronic catalogue, limited to the sub-set of records classified by the Dewey Index.

[10] Costruire la conoscenza.... p. 19-73.

[11] The tables have been prepared by the following librarians: Angela Bargellini, Alessandra Giovannini, Luciano Vannucci.

[12] This table takes into account bibliographic records, with Dewey indexes, which describe editions published post 1960.

[13] The table shows the average number of works loaned monthly, broken down by Dewey classes and divisions. The average monthly figure is calculated on the first six months of 2000.

[14] Division 340 concerns law and includes works on law. The sections refer to: international law (341); constitutional and administrative law (342); military, defence, public property, financial, tax, trade and industrial laws (343); Social, labour, welfare, education and culture laws (344); criminal law (345); private law (346); civil procedure and court laws (347); Law (Statutes), regulations, jurisprudence (348); Law of specific jurisdictions & socio-economic areas (349). The areas specifically covered by the division are set out in Classificazione decimale Dewey devised by Melvil Dewey. Ed. 21. The Italian edition is edited by the Bibliografia nazionale italiana Work Group, under the guidance of Luigi Crocetti. Rome, Associazione italiana biblioteche, 2000

[15] The example is taken from Mencato's degree thesis, p. 169

[16] Guida alla formazione di una biblioteca pubblica e privata, edited by P. Innocenti, Ida and Paolo Terni, Turin, Einaudi, 2. ed. 1981, p. xxxix, 655; first edition with the same title and as complement to title : Catalogo sistematico e discografia, with comment by Delio Cantimori.

[17] Gabriel Naudé, Consigli per la formazione di una biblioteca, edited by Massimo Bray, Presentation by Jacques Ravel, Naples, Liguori editore, 1992, p. 70.


N.B.: disponibile anche la versione italiana.


Copyright AIB 2005-06-15, ultimo aggiornamento 2005-11-04 a cura di Serafina Spinelli
URL: http://www.aib.it/aib/commiss/cnur/boevivar.htm3


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