Frequently Asked Questions
In the MU Libraries, subject areas have assigned librarians or specialists, part of whose jobs are to monitor and coordinate selection of books for those areas with Acquisitions personnel. Faculty should work closely with subject librarians to help keep them aware of the needs of academic departments. Find your subject librarian here.
Book Acquisition Process
1) How does the library decide which books to acquire?
Libraries select books and other materials based on many different factors. (This is one of the oldest areas of study and work within librarianship. Notes survive from a twelfth century librarian in which he expresses concerns about what to allow in his library!) Factors influencing collection policies include what audience the library is serving, what level of coverage the library is committed to providing in various subject areas, and what levels of use are for various library materials. Specifically in the MU Libraries, subject areas have assigned librarians, part of whose jobs are to monitor and coordinate selection of books for those areas with Acquisitions personnel. MU Libraries are working continually to update our collection development policy to align with degree programs offered, enrollment in those programs, and the libraries' overall commitment to sustaining our role as a research library in a large research institution with many aspects to its mission.
2) What is the approval plan?
The approval plan is a program by which the libraries essentially pre-order books based on subject area, level of subject treatment and other non-subject factors that influence quality and usefulness. Based on guidelines incorporated into a formal, computerized format document called a profile, book vendors selected through a formal bid process ship us books automatically each week that the libraries are almost certainly going to need to purchase. We receive discounts off the publishers' list prices for these as part of the approval contract. The books are available for review by faculty and librarians for a week in the library technical services area. Reviewers can indicate if a book is unsuitable and needs to be returned. Currently our return rate on books send to us on approval is less than 4%. Approval plans save significant time and money for large libraries such as ours. In addition to the approval books, the approval plan provides GobiAlerts, an email service designed to notify teaching faculty or subject librarians of newly published titles that are not part of the pre-ordered shipments. These books may be purchased as firm orders, a process which is described in question 3.
3) What other procedures do we have for acquiring books?
In addition to books received on approval, the libraries order individual books or series of books (firm orders). A faculty member wishing to purchase a book or other item to be placed in the library can contact his or her subject librarian or member of the department identified as library liaison; procedures can vary by department. If the book or other item is intended for reserve for a class, the faculty member can contact the Reserves Desk at Ellis, Engineering, Geology. Math, Health Sciences or Veterinary Medical Libraries directly if time is short.
4) What happens when our book-buying funds fall short in a given fiscal year?
Books funds inevitably are inadequate to cover the number of items the library could acquire in any given subject area. Faculty members are often asked by librarians to assist in prioritizing requests. Subject librarians are responsible for working on approval profiles to decrease the number of titles received when budget cuts are required.
5) How can faculty be involved in minimizing the academic impact of budget cuts?
Faculty members can help by supporting the libraries in their requests for increased funding from the University administration and in prioritizing requests for selection. Departments can partner with the library to fund important resources, and to work with possible donors to mention the libraries as desirable places where financial and other gifts can be very meaningful. They can also help by promoting the libraries and their use to students and colleagues.
6) How can faculty help to make sure that book acquisition funds are spent effectively?
Working with subject librarians to help keep them aware of the needs of academic departments is the best way to do this.
General Library Budget Questions
1) Is an account of the library budget available on line?
See MU Libraries Operating Expenditures - FY09-11 Aug11.
2) What is the library's annual budget, where does it come from, and how is this money allocated?
The MU Libraries annual budget, as shown at the link above, is approximately $14 million dollars. That comes from general operating dollars allocated annually from the University. Budget creation process is dictated primarily by the University Budget Office, with salary and benefits forming the majority of the budget (pie chart). Other internal budget decisions are made by the Libraries' Management Team, which consists of James Cogswell, Director of Libraries; Ann Campion Riley, Associate Director of Access, Collections, and Technical Services; Deborah Ward, Interim Associate Director of Research & Information Services, and Director of the Health Sciences Library; and Michael Holland, University Archivist and Director of Special Collections, Archives, and Rare Books. Materials budget expenditures are largely devoted to maintaining journal subscriptions, as is typical of research libraries for the past forty years (ARL Statistics). Some library endowments exist to supplement University funding, and these are growing, but they are not large. We continue to pursue outside grant funding but with decreasing overall staff in the current increasingly competitive funding environment, success is difficult.
3) How can faculty become involved in library budget decisions and other library policies?
4) What are the basic challenges and constraints impinging on the library's budget process?
As mentioned above, maintaining journal subscriptions has been an ongoing challenge for many years for all research libraries. The trend toward electronic online sources has brought increased demands for expensive new resources, generally without sufficient increased funding to meet the new demands. Other constraints have been the budget shortfalls faced by all of higher education, increased in the last few years, and conflicting institutional demands that challenge the ongoing needs of central existing basics such as libraries.
5) Why are serials such a central budget issue?
Practical Library Use
Classes, Tours and Reference
1) How do I arrange a class visit with a librarian?
From the Information for Faculty & Staff page, under "Request a Library Instruction Session", follow links to "Basic Instruction" or "Course Specific Instruction."
Additional information is under the link to "Classes and Tours" under "Request a Library Instruction Session."
2) How do I arrange a class session in the Special and Rare Books Collection?
There are two ways to arrange a class session or presentation in Special Collections:
a. On our departmental web page there is General Information for Instructors, which includes the "Request a Class Session" link:
By completing and submitting Request an instructor will secure a class (or group, or individual) visit to Special Collections.
b. Give us a call (882-0076), or send an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) indicating preferred time and topic, as well as visitors' category and special interests (professors from Tokyo University curious about American comic strips, or a homeschooling class from Boonville interested in Babylonian clay tablets, etc.)
3) How do I arrange a class session in the University Archives?
a. On our departmental web site there is information for Instruction in University Archives at this link:
b. To schedule a class session contact the Reference Archivist directly, please phone or email Gary Cox at 882-3727 or email@example.com. We welcome the opportunity to help introduce your students to original and primary source research.
4) Where can I send a student for additional help with a research project?
Research Assistance Program
Request a RAP (Research Assistance Program)
Access Services: Circulation, Reserve and Interlibrary Loan (MERLIN, MOBIUS)
1) How can I help to make sure that library materials are not misplaced, damaged, or lost?
You can announce in your classes that persons should not write in, highlight or tear out portions of any library owned materials. You can encourage people to not check out materials for friends or acquaintances. You can encourage them not to spill liquids or food of any kind on any books.
2) What is the procedure for putting materials on reserve?
There are two types of Reserve. Electronic Reserves (ERes) is a system that handles urls from electronic resources, such as articles from databases, chapters of eBooks, and faculty notes, exams, etc that can be uploaded into the system for 24/7 access by students. Books and videos are placed at the Ellis Library Reserve Desk and in branch libraries for students to check out. For books or videos, not owned by the Libraries, please include those on your Reserve lists so that they may be ordered as a part of the Reserve process. Please submit your reserve lists a few weeks before the beginning of any semester in order to give us time to pull items from the stacks, recall items that may be checked out, and order any items not owned. Generally, we are able to obtain books and videos quickly but we do notify faculty if items are unavailable in order to give you time to plan accordingly.
Information, including the form for submitting Reserve lists, about paper and video reserves may be found here: http://mulibraries.missouri.edu/guides/reserves/facultyprintreserves.htm
Information about how to place items on ERes may be found here: http://mulibraries.missouri.edu/guides/reserves/eres-guide.htm
3) How can I see a list of items that I have on reserve for a course? (Reserve)
Print Reserves. For items that are at the Reserve Desk in Ellis or in a branch library.
- There is a tab on the top of the MERLIN search page called Course Reserves.
From the MU Libraries' Gateway page:
- Go to Books and More Tab in the center of the screen
- Choose MERLIN and there it is at the top of the first screen.
Electronic reserves (ERes). Find out what I have on ERES.
- You may search by course or by your name.