My blog post on Wednesday talked about using Zipf's law as a way of deciding what to digitize. According to Walt Crawford, he has argued using the Pareto Principle for determining what is popular vs. the exceptional items. While the Pareto Principle and Zipf's law are very different, you can see how each could be used in creating selection criteria.
Custer - using Zipf's law - focused on trying to satisfy 70% of user needs. Crawford, however, argues that the obscure items are "exactly what needs to be digitized...It's the oddball stuff that will disappear otherwise..." This is very different than trying to satisfy a large number of user requests.
What's your take on this? Do you want to satisfy the most user requests or provide access to important obscure items in your collection? Which would benefit your institution more?
BTW Crawford's article on this appeared in American Libraries, June/July 2001, p. 72. (v. 32, n. 6).
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