CFP: “Imagining the future academic library collection” – Special Issue of Collection Management

Though primarily about library collections, the call specifically asks about the role of special collections.


Collection Management will be publishing a special issue of the journal dedicated to “Imagining the Future Academic Library Collection” together with guest editor Michael Levine-Clark, Dean of Libraries, University of Denver.

For most of our history, academic librarians have built collections. We’ve acquired the resources that we felt would serve our students and faculty, and by so doing, we’ve created collections meant to last. That terminology – “collection building” – implies permanence, and perhaps inflexibility. But the way we think about collections is changing: we often rely on access rather than ownership, we are deaccessioning large portions of our legacy print collections to make way for service points and study spaces, and we recognize that we must develop far more inclusive collections than we did in the past.

Almost twenty years into the twenty-first century, the bulk of most materials budgets is dedicated to electronic resources, and through negotiation of big deals and use of models such as demand-driven acquisition, most of us have access to far more content than was ever possible at the end of the last century. Most of us have come to rely on consortial partners when we negotiate with vendors, and we work collaboratively through partnerships like the Western Regional Storage Trust (WEST) or the Eastern Academic Scholars Trust (EAST) to plan for the future of our print collections. We have resources and strategies available to us that allow us to think differently, but our collection development models are not radically different than they were in the past.

Thinking about the future of academic libraries, what will our collections look like? Will academic libraries continue to build collections, or will we simply provide access to content? Will collections reside within the library or will they be retrieved from some other location? Will collection management be replaced by metadata management? In a world with greater homogeneity of collections (because we all have access to so much more), what is the role of special collections? Will open access change the way we manage library collections and library budgets? How do we work together to ensure the broadest range of material is preserved into the future while also making sure we have the best collections possible at our local institutions? How do we collect the ephemera of the digital age – digital objects, websites, emails, etc? If we continue to emphasize collecting published scholarly resources, how do we add things such as data sets, streaming media, and as-yet unimagined new resources? And how do we make sure that we don’t perpetuate the mistakes of the past by mainly collecting dominant voices?

Based on existing developments in librarianship, higher education, or elsewhere, what do you see as key trends in the future of academic library collections? What do you think will happen? What do you hope will happen? We are soliciting peer-reviewed articles, commentaries and case studies for a special issue of Collection Management to be published in 2019 on “Imagining the Future Academic Library Collection.”

Please submit an abstract (200-500 words) by May 15, 2018 to and  that describes your vision for the future and outlines how you will approach the topic. Indicate whether you are interested in writing a commentary, peer-reviewed article or a case study.

Susanne Clement and Judy Nixon

Co-editors, Collection Management

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s