Yem Fong, University of Colorado, Boulder, and Michael Levine-Clark, University of Denver, provided an overview of a cooperative approval plan for eight university libraries in Colorado and Wyoming.
Background: There's a shared catalog and 23 million titles in a shared collection among the eight. There's a fast interlibrary delivery system in place.
Goals for the shared approval plan: Control duplication, improve collection depth and quality, save time and money, purchase more unique materials to create deeper, richer collections by minimizing duplication.
The project began as a 2.5 year pilot of a shared purchase plan (i.e., no returns). Two vendors, YBP and Blackwell's were used. The focus was on undergraduate materials in four subject areas: economics, mathematics, political science, and religion. YBP covered economics and poli/sci, and Blackwell's covered religion and math.
Profiling based on institutional priorities (by discipline). The number of copies allowed was based on anticipated use. Using data from the shared catalog, they looked at the percentage within classification ranges that circulated. Low circulation LC ranges were limited to one copy. Higher circulation ranges were allowed three copies.
Concerns: were they getting "good" titles? Were they missing titles?
Assessment of the project based on vendor reports and ILS data, along with selector and acquisitions staff feedback.
In mathematics, they received 300 titles through the pilot project out of 2,800 titles purchased overall in math. Conclusion: math is not a good discipline for this project, with its focus on undergraduate titles, because most mathematics titles are aimed at the graduate/researcher level.
In political science, they received 2,100 titles through the pilot project out of 2,400 overall. Economics: 900 out of 1,200. Religion: 600 out of 3,000. Political science and economics are disciplines that lend themselves to this method of collection development.
Other findings: titles acquired through the pilot project were used at a higher rate than other titles. Only 21 titles were duplicated between the two vendors (and in all cases, they were without CIP and with vendor-assigned class numbers).
Survey of selectors revealed mixed results. Generally, selectors were pleased with the quality of the titles received but were concerned about titles missed. Selectors in all subject areas found additional titles that they would have expected to be received through the pilot project. The initial time commitment to get the project going was significant.
Acquisitions staff were generally negative about the pilot project. Mainly, they did not like working with a second vendor.
Next steps: refine the project and use a single vendor. Target different subjects, incorporate graduate and research level titles, and begin working on e-book packages.