Securing the Collective Print Books Collection: Progress to Date

In 2012, Sustainable Collection Services (SCS) and the Michigan Shared Print Initiative (MI-SPI) undertook one of the first shared print monographs projects in the US. Seven libraries came together under the auspices of Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS) to identify and retain 736,000 monograph holdings for an initial period of 15 years. This work laid the cornerstone of a secure North American (and ultimately international) collective print book collection.

Since then, ten other groups have quietly continued this important work, with the help of SCS (part of OCLC since 2015) and the GreenGlass Model Builder. The results speak for themselves:

  • 11 Shared Print Programs (some with multiple projects)
  • 143 Institutions participating (almost all below the research level)
  • 7.6 million distinct editions identified for long-term retention
  • 19.7 million title-holdings now under long term retention commitment

Models and retention criteria vary according to local and regional priorities, but most of the committed titles are secured under formal Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) for 15 years, often with review every five years. In some respects, these are grass-roots activities, designed to address local needs, but it seems clear that these programs can contribute significantly to a federated national or international solution, such as that envisioned by the MLA’s Working Group on The Future of the Print Record.

Organizations at the forefront of shared print monographs retention to date include:

In addition, the HathiTrust Shared Print Program has made excellent progress, with 50 libraries proposing 16 million monograph volumes for 25-year retention. That work continues, and will ultimately secure multiple holdings of all 7.8 million distinct monograph titles in the HathiTrust digital archive. OCLC/SCS has additional group projects underway in Maryland and Nova Scotia, and both EAST and SCELC are about to bring additional libraries into their shared print programs. As shown in the maps below, construction of the secure collective monographs collection is well underway.

US Print Monograph Retentions by State (June 2017) OCLC Sustainable Collection Services


Canadian Print Monograph Retentions by Province (June 2017) OCLC SCS

In subsequent posts, I’ll examine patterns of overlap and geographic distribution of retention commitments, as well as registration of those commitments in WorldCat. I’ll also share some thoughts about managing the collective collection holistically. For now, congratulations and thanks to the many librarians and consortial staff whose hard work has brought the community so far so quickly.

[Special thanks to my SCS colleague Andy Breeding, who compiled the data and maps.]