Regional print management and cooperative infrastructure: maps and gaps


We are excited to be working with the Ohio State University (OSU) and the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) on a new project to explore the contours of a regional strategy for managing the print book resource in the CHI-PITTS mega-region. Regular readers of this blog will know that mega-regions are geographic areas that typically encompass multiple population centers, exhibit a high degree of economic integration, and are bound together by a rich network of transportation, logistics, and communications infrastructure, as well as mutual cultural interests and similarities. Mega-regions are an intriguing concept for thinking about collaborative activities that scale above small groups of institutions, or even existing library consortia. OCLC Research recently published a report that used a mega-regions framework to explore the characteristics and implications of a North American network of regionally consolidated print book collections.

Over the last few months, we have explored this issue further by working with several US regional library consortia to examine their collective print book holdings in the context of the print book resource and infrastructure available in the mega-region most closely aligned with the location of the consortial membership. We have produced profiles for the Statewide California Electronic Library Consortium (SCELC) in the context of the SO-CAL mega-region; the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) and the Washington Research Library Consortium (WRLC) in the context of the CHAR-LANTA mega-region; and the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE) membership in the context of the BOS-WASH mega-region. We plan to publish a series of case studies highlighting the findings from these consortial profiles in the near future.

Our new collaboration with OSU and the CIC is an extension of this consortial profiling work. In this project, we will examine print book holdings at multiple levels: an institution (OSU); a library consortium (CIC); and a mega-region (CHI-PITTS). The purpose of the work is to conduct a detailed analysis of the factors that an individual library might bring to bear in selecting books to contribute to a shared consortial collection, as well as to compare both the individual library collection and the consortial print book resource to the broader context of the print book resource available in the surrounding mega-region. The CHI-PITTS mega-region, which extends across the upper Midwest from Chicago to Pittsburgh, is the mega-region which aligns most closely with the locations of the CIC membership.

Some of the questions we will address include:

  • What part of the OSU print book collection represents a distinctive asset when compared to the aggregate print book holdings within the CIC membership, or the broader CHI-PITTS mega-regional print book resource? What are the characteristics of these distinctive resources with respect to subject, age, and system-wide work-level holdings?
  • What part of the OSU collection is widely held across the collections of the CIC membership, or institutions within the CHI-PITTS region? Can a “core” set of titles be identified, at the consortial or regional level, that represent duplicative investment? Are there opportunities to reduce local costs by managing these titles as a shared resource at the consortial or regional level?
  • What does the ILL demand profile for OSU tell us about consortial and regional demand for its print book collection? How much of this demand is centered around OSU’s distinctive print book titles? How can OSU cooperate with other CIC members to meet local, consortial, and regional demand for print books?

Carol Pitts Diedrichs, Director of OSU Libraries, has posted a nice summary of the thinking that led up to this joint effort.

OSU volunteered to serve as a test case for this project, with the understanding that findings from the analysis will be useful to all CIC member libraries considering shared print archiving arrangements. Of course, we hope the project will be useful to other libraries as well. There is growing interest in how (or if) the lessons learned in journal archiving projects like the Western Regional Storage Trust (WEST) or the CIC Shared Print Repository can be applied to cooperative efforts to preserve monographic collections. This project should provide some answers. We expect to post periodic updates on the project over the next several months here on Hanging Together, and will publish a synthesis of findings in a final report later this year.