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Lee, Stuart D. Building an electronic resource collection: a practical guide. London: LA Publishing, 2002. 147 p. ISBN 1-85604-422-X. 24.95.

We live in a world where digital information resources are multiplying with increasing speed and the amount of traditional printed material, contrary to all expectations and predictions, is not diminishing but growing. The selection and acquisition of this wealth of data is related to the scope of problems that would be difficult to imagine. Recently I have been involved in several projects related to legal issues of electronic documents in libraries and the process of building a library consortium in Lithuania. One of the students helping with the arrangement of the seminars for librarians and lost among the variety of the topics that we had to address said:

"I know it never works like that, but it would be so good if we could have four or five pages telling librarians: DO THIS".

It never works like that, but sometimes, not too often, it almost happens. Within a small paperback (125, not 5, pages) Stuart D. Lee provides a highly structured guide for:

  • any librarian involved in the development of access to hybrid library collections,
  • a publisher wishing to understand developments in a changing market for information products,
  • a "knowledge officer" managing corporate information resources in a company, or
  • a person who might feel a need for orientation among the overwhelming range of modern documentation.

The algorythmic step-by-step representation of the collection building and management process is not only useful but conveys the beauty of logic and constructive reduction of most complicated problems into a clear-cut instruction for action. In five chapters the author deals with:

  • basic terms and definitions,
  • relations and differences between digital and traditional collection development,
  • variety of information in digital format on the market,
  • assessment of the datasets,
  • life-cycle of digital collection development,
  • financial issues of collection development,
  • delivering the datasets to the users,
  • introduction to some legal aspects,
  • outline of technology related issues.

Some case studies are provided to illustrate the recommendations or practical issues. One will find examples of the best practice as well as of the dangers involved in the work with digital collections. The models of the stages of the dataset acquisition and delivery would help the professional working in any organisational or cultural context.

The requirements of the genre (a guide is only a guide) do not allow any deeper analysis of the problems or provision of wider picture, let alone the context. A selected bibliography at the end of the book offers the guidance for further exploration of the topic.

A very valuable and convenient feature is a glossary of selected terms at the end of the book. For emerging areas of practice it is increasingly important to understand the meanings of the newly coined words that may be used in several different contexts and cover a range of different concepts.

The area of e-information is not only rapidly growing, it is also changing very fast. No doubt many provisions of the guide will be out of date quite soon, but the basic principles will be of help for a longer period. The structure of the guide allows revise it whenever the need arises. Meanwhile, I would suggest that acquisition librarians should put it to good use.

Dr. Elena Macevičiūtė
Swedish School of Information and Library Science
Högskolan i Borås
June 2002