Monday, August 01, 2005

Start-Up Guides

Sometimes, a library is improved by what it removes, rather than what it adds.

Since 1992, the Research Network has been buying, cataloging, and lending Business Start-Up Guides, as published by Entrpreneur magazine. These are guides that are regularly borrowed by you on behalf of our clients. At the beginning of 2005, we had exactly 200 guides in the collection.

However, a recent review of our holdings shows that 75% are more than 10 years old. I knew we had some dated guides on the shelves - however, I didn't realize it was that prevalent. In traditional public & academic library settings, items that are this old are kept as a matter of historical record. We don't have that luxury here - there's simply not enough space, nor are these guides of any practical value to the clients we serve.

(In fact, they can do more harm than good. A recent evaluation came back to the Central office, specifically noting a client's disappointment with "very old" information. A start-up guide from 1988 was borrowed from our collection on his behalf. I'd be disappointed, too.)

Given this, we've embarked on a massive clean-up effort. Any start-up guide with a copyright date of 1994 or earlier will be removed from the collection. An updated list will be created (with a copyright date listed for each guide) and distributed to every advisor in the New York SBDC. (This should be available by the end of this week.) I will be contacting Entrepreneur to see if any of these titles have been updated (many have not). If funding permits, I'll purchase additional titles published since 1995 that we don't currently have.

In addition, we'll be adding text to the upcoming revised SBDC Standard Operations Procedures (SOP) Manual. From here on out, policy will state that these guides will be in our collection for no more than 10 years.

This project is long overdue. Provision of accurate & timely information is our reason for existing. Removing these guides is done with that mission in mind.

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