Report of the Transforming Collections Task Force

The Transforming Collections Task force was formed in March 2011. The task force’s membership includes representation from all ALCTS sections, all library types as well as the vendor community.

The Transforming Collections Task force members are:

Xan Arch, Bleue Benton, Christopher Cronin, James Dooley, Kady Ferris, Lisa German, Derrik Hiatt, Stephanie Lamson, Meghan Manahan, Ashley Parker, Sarah Simpson, Reeta Sinha, and Mary Beth Thomson, Chair.

The Transforming Collections TF was asked to consider how ALCTS can best address ALA's goal of "providing leadership in the transformation of libraries and library services in a dynamic and increasing global digital information environment." The task force was charged with taking ownership of the transforming libraries goal for ALCTS and with providing the ALCTS Board with a list of ideas, proposed projects, tasks and actions. The task force’s report is to both highlight current activities and to suggest innovative ideas to support the membership in transforming collections.

The task force began their online discussions with a review of ALA’s Transforming Libraries goal and objectives:

Goal statement: ALA provides leadership in the transformation of libraries and library services in a dynamic and increasing global digital information environment.

Objective (1): Increase opportunities to share innovative practices and concepts across the profession, nationally and internationally, and among all libraries.

Objective (2): Increase recognition of and support for experimentation with innovative and transformational ideas.

Objective (3) Help libraries make use of new and emerging technologies by promoting and supporting technological experimentation and innovation.

Objective (4): Increase leadership development and training opportunities designed to support the ongoing transformation of libraries.

Through the online discussions the following preliminary listing of possible project ideas, topics for further investigation and other activities for consideration was developed.


  • Centralized sandbox to test technologies
  • Gap analysis of the training of future collection development librarians (what is needed for the next generation; how does ALCTS provide)
  • Identify research areas and measurement tools
  • Micro grants to promote and support technological experimentation and innovation
  • Participate in the development of relevant ALA Policy statements (TF on Equitable Access to Electronic Information)
  • Partner or host a virtual lab
  • Promote, support, and update current "ALCTS Fundamentals" courses; propose new courses
  • Survey the membership to identify current projects - actions transforming collections


  • Challenges associated with balancing collection ownership and access
  • Collaboration: collection development; cataloging; preservation
  • Data curation services; GIS
  • Definition of “collection” and organizational structures
  • Digital preservation
  • E-books and streaming media
  • Life cycle of scholarly communication
  • Metadata and bibliographic infrastructure
  • Open access publishing
  • Patron initiated or demand-driven purchasing and the change in concept of a library collection; challenges – disappointments
  • Perspectives from collections & technical services leaders on how they manage operational change
  • Questions to ask or the issues to think about when looking at adding a new format to your collection
  • Research data services
  • Shared repositories (print & digital)
  • Standards: preservation, licensing, e-books, streaming media

Other activities to consider:

  • Identify known activities requiring a higher profile and provide suggestions for promotion/marketing (Conference programs or pre-conferences; webinars; current research activities; collaborative efforts)
  • Identify known activities warranting follow-up, additional support or research
  • Propose a pre-conference or specific conference program
  • Propose this as the year of “Transforming Collections”

Task force members are scheduled to meet during ALA Annual 2011 and to present an initial report to the ALCTS Board for their review and discussion.

Submitted by Mary Beth Thomson, Chair
ALCTS Transforming Collections Task force
June 25, 2011