Issues of Book Acquisition in University Libraries: A Case Study of Pakistan

Article excerpt

Introduction

Acquiring information resources is a core activity of libraries. University libraries all over the world still acquire and maintain massive book collections while managing other formats. Despite prophecies of vanishing print collections and emergence of the digital paradigm, printed books still have a central role in library collections and publishing industry (Kanwal 2005; Carr 2007)

Until 2005, collections in Pakistan's university libraries (UL) mainly consisted of books (foreign), when the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan provided access to thousands of digital databases (Government of Pakistan. Higher Education Commission). A doctoral study found that in Pakistan, university libraries annual collection funds are mostly spent on new books and serial publications (Ameen 2005a). These funds have increased each year under the present regime; however, the book market has never been capable of efficiently supplying the imported current and research material for libraries. This researcher's experience as university librarian, as faculty member, and a review of literature establishes that university libraries face serious problems in the acquisition of books and journals. Despite the gradual adoption of information and communication technologies, libraries still find it hard to acquire current books through vendors or direct purchase, which makes it difficult to meet clients' needs quickly, efficiently, and economically.

Statement of the problem

There is a need to explore the basic issues in the acquisition of books through purchase in the emerging paradigm. The study explores these issues with reference to major university libraries in Pakistan.

Research Questions

* What are the prevailing strategies of book acquisition in the university libraries of Pakistan?

* What are the major problems in acquisitions?

* What kind of interaction prevails among vendors and acquisitions librarians?

Research Methodology

The study uses a multi-method approach. The data was collected in 2003 and 2004 as part of the author's doctoral research. Questionnaires and interview guide were developed to collect quantitative and qualitative data. The questionnaire was sent to the central libraries of 40 major accredited universities in Pakistan. Thirty responses were ultimately received. After initial analysis of that data, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 librarians using the interview-guide. Interviews were then transcribed by the researcher and the text was analyzed and categorized using a thematic approach.

Review of Literature

The literature on acquisition, access, and management of library collections continues to grow. Most of the discussion revolves around access verses acquisition and other issues related to electronic collection management (e.g., Cassell 2004; Horava 2005). Acquisition of print materials is also still of interest. For example, Paulos and Holley (2006) explore the relationship between African studies programs and the acquisition of African imprints in four selected American academic libraries. Dali and Dilevko (2005) portray the ways that collection development specialists in North American libraries acquire books from Slavic/Eastern Europe countries.

A review of local literature reveals the situation after the creation of Pakistan in 1947, when libraries suffered from a lack of human and material resources including collections. The slow rate of book production in the country has also created a problem in acquiring quality books at a competitive price. Razzaque (1971) states that the local market cannot supply 25% of the needs of the libraries and acquiring foreign materials is also difficult. Haider (1975, 1986) addresses the issue of insufficient collections in university libraries and suggests ways of improving cooperation. …