The Library Uncovered: Behind the Scenes with Collections Services

Collections Services Leadership Team

Dracine Hodges, Associate University Librarian for Collections Services

Dracine Hodges, AUL for Collections Services

The Associate University Librarian for Collections Services provides leadership, vision, and strategic direction for the departments in Collections Services. This includes advocating for staff, managing budgets, and identifying and evaluating new methodologies that promote discovery and use of our collections.

From Dracine’s opening reception remarks

There is a lot of hidden labor in libraries and archives. We talk frequently in Collections Services about how we can best tell our stories because what we do is often invisible to users, donors, visitors and unfortunately not always understood by other staff in the libraries. A notion that has stuck with me since viewing an ACRL webinar about this a few years ago is that, “visibility is often correlated with value so invisibility is implicitly correlated with a lack of value.” Our day-to-day work isn’t glamorous and it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. There are a lot of moving parts and details. Frankly, we frolic in the weeds. We also take on big, sometimes existential questions relating to issues like inclusive metadata, accessibility advocacy in licensing, and diversity across the spectrum of collection development. We have the added task of bringing systems thinking, process, and sustainability to just about everything we do. Ever mindful of the scale at which DUL must operate and the impacts our decisions have on others. In fact, if I had been given the responsibility for subtitling this exhibition I would’ve suggested “it’s not magic and it ain’t sexy!

Collections Services staff care about this work because we understand it’s value and how much it powers the user experience. We share the inherent goal of creating pathways for discovery and access which feeds academic life – teaching, learning, and research. Our work supports the full resource lifecycle which enables a range of scholarly pursuits. The six departments in the division (Collection Strategy & Development, Conservation Services, Electronic Resources & Serials Acquisitions, Metadata & Discovery Strategy, Monograph Acquisitions, Resource Description) are responsible for overarching collections stewardship - strategy and analysis, licensing and acquisition, access and description, and preservation and conservation to extend the life and reach of DUL collections which include an eye-crossing number of formats and languages.

I would be remiss if I did not end by quoting my colleague, Beth Doyle, who so eloquently explains…
“The heroes should be the people behind the scenes working really hard every day to collect, describe, house, digitize, preserve, shelve, and retrieve collections so that when their user appears these collections can be pulled from the shelf and handed to them (hello Ranganathan!). The fact that you can walk into a library or archive, request something, and a few minutes later it shows up … feels like magic. I assure you it is not.”

Collections Services Leadership Team meet on Zoom

Collections Services Leadership Team meet on Zoom

The Associate University Librarian for Collections Services and each of the six department heads make up the Collections Services Leadership Team. This team meets regularly to exchange information and address cross-departmental challenges. We also share book and snack recommendations when time allows.

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