How to Map Collections to Academic Departments

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Why?     What?    How?

Part 1: Why Map Library Collections to Academic Departments?

When library resources are matched to academic departments, you can:

  1. Analyze collections in a consistent and systematic manner.
  2. Calculate the amount of support the library provides to academic units—not in the old terms of funds spent, but in new terms of resources purchased.
  3. Align resources to the needs of the community.
  4. Discover what is not being systematically collected.
  5. Fully account for interdisciplinary subjects and resources if the map contains overlap, with the same call number appearing under more than one subject, which guarantees that interdisciplinary subjects and resources are completely represented.
  6. Assist selectors by providing the widest range possible of call numbers to use to search vendor databases such as GOBI and OttoEditions.
  7. Quickly advance the process of familiarizing selectors, who have new subject responsibilities, with a field of study.
  8. Create services based on call numbers such as Browse Online or On Foot.
  9. Enhance outreach and resource usage by offering canned searches such as those based on subject-headings identified via call numbers, e.g., Cyber Terrorism.

Part 2: What does it mean to Map a Collection?

To map a collection means asking: Which coded characteristics in the cataloging record will find the greatest number and most relevant resources that support the research and teaching of a given subject field? It also means ignoring overlap. Unlike budget analysis, wherein one cannot count and allocate more funds than are available, collection analysis can allow for double counting. We can say that we subscribe to the journal of Gender and Development to support the work of scholars in Gender Studies, Political Science, and Economics. (Just don't aggregate it all together.)

Interdisciplinarity, multidisciplinarity, electronic resources, and outdated but in-use classification systems all make collection assessment a tremendously more complex and difficult task. There is a great need to cast a wider net to measure Library support for contemporary fields of study. The act of mapping collections to academic departments is the best first step to making this endeavor possible.

Part 3: Tools for Mapping Collections

There is not always—if there ever was—a straight line between the interests of academic departments and a range of Dewey or LC classification numbers. This is true even in the case of traditional fields; some English departments now emphasize film as well as written literature. For less traditional fields, the move from academic interest to library classification system is even more difficult; the needs and interests of Cognitive Sciences cannot be captured within a single classification range. Hence, if you want to assess your collection via call numbers, it may be desirable re-map classifications to match the needs of departments rather than rely on the broad ranges set out by LC and Dewey.

All endeavors to map call numbers to collections must be local, reflecting the local interests of the academic departments involved. On the other hand, why reinvent the wheel? These sources can assist you in getting a good start on identifying call numbers for specific collections. Depending on the situation at your library, you might also have an interest in mapping Dewey to LC or vice versa; these resources can assist you in that work, too.

  • Northwestern University Library: Map of NU Collections to NU Academic Departments For each academic department or program, includes Dewey, LC and other coded characteristics in the cataloging records of library resources.
  • University of Michigan Library This is a very helpful site that maps UM academic subjects to LC call numbers.
  • YBP Approval Plan Profiles and Harrassowitz and Casalini Many domestic and foreign approval plan profiles are constructed with call numbers (as well as other criteria, in some cases). Some profiles include both Dewey and LC matched to the subjects for which the library has automatic receipt.
  • Conversion Tables This multi-volume work, by Mona Scott, provides conversions from LC to Dewey, vice versa, and from LC Subject Headings to LC and Dewey.
  • Worldcast Collection Analysis If you subscribe to the WCA, you should have access to the WCA conspectus which assigns call numbers (Dewey and LC) to subjects.
  • Dewey Summaries online This is useful as a quick online reference, but covers only the broad summaries. You'll have to go to the latest Dewey Decimal Classification and Relative Index publication for details.
  • LC Classification online This is an outline, but nonetheless does go deeper than the Dewey summaries above. Alternatives include a subscription to Classification Web or LC Classification Schedules, A-Z.