5603: Introduction to Information Services


Part 1: Interview myself

  • What is the topic?

Collection development policies in digital libraries

  • Why are you interested in it? What would you do with the information you find?

I’m taking a class in collection development and I have to do a paper. I chose the topic of collection management in digital libraries because I’m interested in digital libraries. I wonder how people make decisions about what collections to digitize, about how they know what digital resources their community would like to access, how they prioritize the spending that is necessary to build digital collections, and other similar collection management questions.

Once I figure out some of this information I’ll write a paper about it. I’d like to incorporate some research, using primary material (collection policies from digital libraries that have them already). Maybe even do a quantitative analysis of elements of collection policies: see what they have in common, what are differences.

  • What do you already know about the topic?

I know a fair amount about digital library construction and techniques used to build them. I’ve studied some of the communications protocols they use to disseminate information. I’ve built a few collections and finding aids. I understand metadata, searching techniques, and user inferface conventions.

Collection management is a new topic for me and I’m learning more about it every week. So far we’ve discussed a lot of introductory topics like budgets, needs assessment, policies, and we recently talked about selection. So I guess I know some of the basic elements of collection development but I’ve never worked in the area so I don’t have that level of understanding.

  • What are the "unknowns" (and “knowns” )? What do you need to find out?


  • there are lots and lots of digital libraries being built these days
  • there have been several large research efforts aimed at developing tools and methodologies
  • collection development deals with organizational and management areas of information; whether digital libraries are talking about it or not, they are making collection management decisions all the time.

Unknowns? Need to find out:

  • Collect data (find examples of collection policies for digital libraries)
  • Best practices: are there any guidelines put out by IMLS or anyone like that to describe what and how digital library collection development should be done?
  • How many digital libraries actually have a stated collection policy?
  • How many libraries include digital collections in their standard collection policy?
  • What sources have you tried?

I’ve found some material already, mostly through Google. Digital libraries are built for web access, so information about them is generally going to be available on the web. I will need to do a literature search as well to see if this topic has been covered in the literature. I expect to find useful material in DLib, Ariadne, Journal of Digital Information, First Monday, Emerald publications, and publications of ACM and IEEE, among others.

Examples (actually, I already have a two three four page bibliography):

Rutgers : http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/~tefko/DL_collection.htm (This is an annotated bibliography of papers and websites.)

“Digital Collections, Digital Libraries, and the Digitization of Cultural Heritage Information” by Clifford Lynch. First Monday, May 2002

  • Do you know key terms? Authors?

Terms: Collection development; collection policies; collection budget process; literacy development in Hispanic populations; bibliographies; indexes; book lists; books in print; book reviews; accession lists; collection lists; DSpace; Open Archives Initiative; OAI-MHP; digital library; digital collection;

Authors – Peggy Johnson, Carl Lagoze, Clifford Lynch, Caroline Arms, William Arms, and there will be many more.

  • What are related topics? Sub-topics? (i.e., what are the various facets of the topic that might be worth exploring?)

Several types of material are probably out there waiting to be found:

  • Primary source material (specific policy statements for individual digital libraries)
  • Descriptive literature (Articles describing specific and concrete examples of CM in DL)
  • General literature (Articles describing best practices, recommended policies and procedures)

Another angle of attack may deal with the types of resources included in the DL: are collection management issues different for ejournals than digitized maps? Serials vs ebooks?

  • In what related information are you definitely not interested?

Not interested (for this paper :) ) in construction of digital libraries, metadata, digitization, handling of physical objects. I just want policies about their management. This is different than the usual show and tell literature.

  • How current (or old) do you want information to be?

Three years or so should be OK, but the more recent the better. As the number of digitization projects increases, issues surrounding collection development will increase in importance.

  • Do you have preferred formats?

For input, the information needs to be in English or French because I do not read any other languages. My French is pretty bad so English would be better!

For output I just would want a term paper!

  • What would be a good place/source to start? Why?

Lots of sources

    • Google has a lot of stuff (DLs are on the web; documentation for them is on the web)
    • Search directories: Yahoo, Open Directory Project, Google Directory (let someone else organize the information for me)
    • Collection development website ACQWEB (see if it is covered from the CD point of view)
    • LibLit, Wilson Scientific, ArticlesFirst (start literature search here)
  • What specific question would you start with?

There are really several questions that need answering:

    • What digital collections have collection policies?
    • What do the terms of the policies say?
  • What search terms would you use? Why?

I’d use the terms from above: Collection development; collection policies; collection budget process; literacy development in Hispanic populations; bibliographies; indexes; book lists; books in print; book reviews; accession lists; collection lists; collection management; digital libraries; digital policies; digital collection management; digital library collection management.

So, summing it up, you are looking for:

    • Data: existing collection policies for existing digital libraries
    • Literature: descriptions of collection policies for digital libraries

Part 2. Interview with Carrie

For my practice interview, I interviewed my wife. I asked her early in the week to think of a topic she’d like to know more about, and we had our research interview on a Tuesday morning. With her permission, the interview was recorded on a small voice recorder. This accounting is an annotated transcript; I didn't quote everything verbatim, but rather summarized as appropriate.

Upon starting, I gave her a brief explanation of the process. I stressed that it was a learning experience for me and was not about her, or her problem definition skills, or anything like that. If anyone was being tested, it was me, not her. I tried to make her feel comfortable. She’s been my guinea pig a few times before and she’s not anxious or nervous anymore so we proceeded.

Note: number annotation (n) is tape position.

  • “What is the topic? (0)

Pharmacist’s salaries.

  • “Ah, pharmacist’s salaries…. why are you interested in it?”

Because I’m a pharmacist.

  • “And how would you use the information that you get?” (17)

By changing location and/or job

This “location” was a new idea and we explored it:

  • “ok so you are looking for pharmacist’s salaries in different locations?

Different parts of the country

  • “Would you want different companies as well or just geographically?” (23)

She explained that she would want information about different companies, but that most companies were pretty competitive with each other so the ranges of salaries varied more by location than company by company in a given spot.

  • “OK, and how about different types of pharmacies? One particular type or are you interested in a variety of types of practice?” (29)

She expresses an interest in hospital pharmacy as well now, yet another new concept.

  • “So you’d be interested in retail and hospital pharmacist salaries for jobs in different locations around the country and for different companies?” (33)

She agreed, and then said she’d really want the top three geographically.

  • “Did I already ask you this, what would you do with the information you find?“ (42)

She said she just wanted to know what salaries are like around the country. She might want to change location if she could get paid a lot more for the same work.

  • “What do you already know about the topic? I don’t know very much about pharmacist salaries… what kind of background can you give me?“ (46)

She explained that she only knew South Florida . She had heard that California was paying very well: “Rumor has it that Southern California pays very well”

At this point I again reiterated the bounds on the question: (52)

  • “So you’re really looking for the top salaries… you don’t want a big range, a survey of the 50 states, or anything like that… you want the top three salaries for retail and hospital pharmacies for different locations around the country?”

She confirmed that this is what she wanted.

Then I reiterated the “what do you know part” and got more new information:

  • “So the rumors are that California is hot… are there any others that you know about?” (62)

She said Hawaii was also paying well, but she did not want to move to Hawaii so I should keep it off the list.

  • “ Alaska ?” (69)

that would be OK

  • “Outside US international, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, other territories? (75)”

She said that the problem with these locations is that licensing issues would come up.

  • So just USA because of licensing issues? (80)


  • So are there licensing issues within the United States ?

California and Hawaii are problems

“Other states reciprocate?” (85)


  • Once more I reiterated “What you need are the three states that have the top salaries?” (91)

And this was interesting, because now another new concept was introduced. She said “Not really states, but regions… like Southern California is different than Northern California ”. So we discussed how North Dakota and South Dakota were probably more alike than N. and S. California . She agreed she wanted regions, not states.

  • “OK, what sources have you tried? Have you tried to look this up yet?“ (95)


  • “Do you know key terms or any authors or any sources for this sort of information?” (101)

She said salaries.com is where she would start, but says it tends to give a really broad range. It gives an average figure, but she wants it broken down. She used a new term “I want to know what a chain pharmacist makes, say”. Another new term!

  • “So what would the key terms be then? Chain pharmacy? Retail pharmacy? (105)

We discussed a few terms and came up with a list: chain pharmacist, retail pharmacist, hospital pharmacist.

  • “Are there any professional organizations that might have salary information?“ (120)

Every state has a board; it would be a source to check. She didn't know if they would have salary information. With some encouragement, she also came up with a couple of magazines: Drugstore News, Pharmacy Times (130)

  • “Are there any specialties or subdivisions within retail pharmacy?” (140)

Not really, no.

At this point I was felt like I had nailed down the whole terms question, and had found a few sources that might be good as well.

  • In what related information are you definitely not interested? (144)

We together reiterated disinterest in international, Hawaii , American territories.

  • How current (or old) do you want information to be? (153)

Really current, like today!

  • Today? Like the price of tomatoes at the supermarket?

How about six months?

  • “If you could find information from 2003 would that be useful to you?”


We went back and forth on this a little and discovered that the relative levels between regions wouldn’t change but information older than 2 years would be of questionsable value. (172)

  • Do you have preferred formats? How could I send you the information? (176)

Document, email, whatever. She was very flexibile about how she got the information.

  • What would be a good place/source to start? (178)

Salaries.com comes up again, but that is limited. She’s got no other ideas.

  • “What specific question would you start with?” (182)

"How much could an average retail pharmacist expect to make in the top three markets in the country?"

  • “And, um, search terms. What search terms would you use?” (190)

Salary, chain pharmacist, community pharmacist (another new term!),

  • “And when do you need the information?” (200)

ASAP, of course. Two to three days would be fine. She'd just be glad to have it whenever.

  • “OK, great! So my understanding of the information request is that you are looking for salaries for retail and hospital pharmacists in the top 3 states.. oops, regions.”

We had another conversation clarifying the whole region/state distinction. A region in her mind is a smaller area: Southern California vs. California. We went over that again, and agreed that regions would work best: Pacific Northwest, MIdwest, major cities, etc.

“Retail and hospital in the top 3 regions in continental US plus Alaska ” (218)

  • “Can you think of anything else that would help clarify the search?”

“I’ll have that in 2 or 3 days”. (230)

And that was the end!

Part 3 Reflection

This exercise turned out to be quite interesting for a number of reasons.

The self-interview turned into a useful planning exercise for a paper that needs writing. The question set was comprehensive and made me think about organization and content with a clarity that certainly would have taken longer had I not followed the script. In another class I had to write a formal search plan; this exercise seemed reminiscent of that activity. As with most things, following a plan leads to a better end result.

I found it fascinating to listen to the taped interview with Carrie. It seems as though every time I tried summarizing what had been learned, new topics or points or issues popped up. We went through the cycle over and over: discussion, summary, more discussion, second summary, and then even more discussion, before a final summary could really be made that included all facets of the particular point at hand.

I did manage to figure out why I could interview myself in a nice linear fashion, but progressed haphazardly with Carrie: I cheated. A tape recorder just keeps rolling forward, but a word processor lets you scroll back up, make changes, fix your grammar, add a few more points to a list. When I finally realized that I had changed mode from conducting an interview with myself to working on a project plan, I just stopped. No fair!

I think I still have a lot to learn about reference interviewing! I understand the structure and intent but don't always find the words at the appropriate time. I would need a lot more practice before I would feel competent. I have a good analytical ability and communicate well with people, but I need to learn sources. I know many common databases and reference sources, but there are many more to learn. Specialized resources (law, medicine, engineering, and many more) are a total black hole.

The medium is the message in reference service as much as anywhere else. Every communications channel will have its own characteristics when used as a delivery path for reference services. The diversity of communication techniques means that in different channels, some styles and attributes will work better than others. Body language cues are lost in an email exchange, but emoticons may substitute. IM may be effective for a younger clientele used to chatting.

It seems like an important point to take away from this exercise is the need to keep questioning until clarity and precision are attained. Repeating back, asking open ended questions, restating; all these techniques are useful in face to face situation. You'd have to amend the process to fit the form with alternative communications channels, but the end result of clarity is still essential.

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