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UCLA's Folklore Monographs: An Examination of How to Handle the Multitude of Scarcity


The primary purpose of this study is to examine the condition and treatment of the mounting number of scarce materials in member libraries of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). The role of access to materials in libraries is shifting due to changes in digitization technology and so preservation guidelines must reflect this fact, to protect the old and new formats. Although ARLs are trusted as stewards to preserve their collections, the logistics involved in caring for these scarce materials are compromised when the need for physical intervention outweighs what is currently feasible for most preservation departments. This study is comprised of a random sample survey of 465 English language monographs in the GR subject category "Folklore" (out of a total population of 5,752 English language Folklore monographs). This study examines the condition and holdings of the surveyed monographs at the University of California, Los Angeles' Young Research Library (YRL) focusing on materials scarcely held. In this study "scarce" refers to the population of monographs (12 or fewer copies) that make up the last remaining copy or copies collectively held, as reflected by libraries that report to OCLC's Worldcat, the world's largest and most comprehensive bibliographic database. The examination of these monographs identifies some of the inherent challenges ARL member libraries face in moving these large collections forward. Monographs are currently distinguished between "Special" and "Circulating" Collections, but this is an outdated model that does not account for the masses of circulating materials that fall somewhere between these accepted constructs and are sometimes informally known as "Medium-Rare" Collections. A significant finding of this study is that a large percentage of materials in UCLA's Folklore collection has damage procured as a result of previously attempted conservation interventions. Integrating shared information among ARLs about collective holdings and the condition of individual materials would aid decision-making regarding: conservation treatment, retention/deaccession of print monographs, and access to these materials for future scholarship.

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