Monday, January 10, 2011

OCLC report on managing print collections in mass-digitized library world

Malpas, Constance. 2011. Cloud-sourcing Research Collections: Managing Print in the Mass-digitized Library Environment. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research.

Cloud-sourcing Research Collections is a 76 p. (pdf) analysis of the feasibility of outsourcing management of low-use print books held in academic libraries to shared service providers, including large-scale print and digital repositories.

Mass digitization projects like Google Books and shared online collections like the HathiTrust have given substance to the visions of a transformation of library use from paper to online resources. This "flip" and related demands for physical space and care of paper resources has resulted in renewed attention to print collections in academic libraries. This is the time for discussion within and among research libraries on how to construct new systems of services based on aggregations of digital resources, local paper resource collections and shared storage repositories for online and paper resources.

The report's main conclusion is:

"Based on a year-long study of data from the HathiTrust, ReCAP, and WorldCat, we concluded that our central hypothesis was successfully confirmed: there is sufficient material in the mass-digitized library collection managed by the HathiTrust to duplicate a sizeable (and growing) portion of virtually any academic library in the United States, and there is adequate duplication between the shared digital repository and large-scale print storage facilities to enable a great number of academic libraries to reconsider their local print management operations. Significantly, we also found that the combination of a relatively small number of potential shared print providers, including the Library of Congress, was sufficient to achieve more than 70% coverage of the digitized book collection, suggesting that shared service may not require a very large network of providers."

This points a way forward for academic libraries. The report might be an interesting frame for a discussion at Yale of how we think of our collections in this environment and how we move to use the environment to create services for readers. It is one of the few reports that integrates questions of online resources with paper resources. That kind of integrated approach to collections, preservation, user/reader services makes a lot more sense than digital only or print only approaches.

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