Research Collections and Support

Libraries are increasingly leveraging the raw materials of scholarship and knowledge formation by emphasizing the creation and curation of institutional research assets and outputs, including digitized special collections, research data, and researcher profiles. Our work informs current thinking about research collections and the emerging services that libraries are offering to support contemporary modes of scholarship. We are encouraging the development of new ways for libraries to build and provide these types of collections and deliver distinctive services.

Research Information Management: Defining RIM and the Library’s Role


Research information management (RIM) is the aggregation, curation, and utilization of information about research and is emerging as an area of increasing interest and relevance in many university libraries. RIM intersects with many aspects of traditional library services in discovery, acquisition, dissemination, and analysis of scholarly activities, and does so through the nexus with institutional data systems, faculty workflows, and institutional partners. RIM adoption offers libraries new opportunities to support institutional and researcher goals. In this paper prepared by Rebecca Bryant, OCLC Research Senior Program Officer, and a working group of librarians representing OCLC Research Library Partnership institutions, learn more about what RIM is, what is driving RIM adoption, and the library’s role in RIM.

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(US Letter .pdf)

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(.pdf)

The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting: A Synthesis of the Harvard Library's Hazen Memorial Symposium


Drawing from presentations and audience discussions at The Transformation of Academic Library Collecting: A Symposium Inspired by Dan C. Hazen, this publication examines of some central themes important to a broader conversation about the future of academic library collections, in particular, collective collections and the reimagination of what have traditionally been called "special" and archival collections (now referred to as unique and distinctive collections).

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(US Letter .pdf)

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(.pdf)

Shifting Gears: Gearing Up to Get into the Flow, Second Edition


The report Shifting Gears: Gearing Up to Get into the Flow reflected the ideas and discussion at the forum around the growing expectation that library materials (especially special collections) would be available online, the importance of prioritizing this work as an essential service of libraries and archives, and ideas for how to scale up the digitization of special collections. Shifting Gears is being republished on its tenth anniversary as OCLC Research and the OCLC Research Library Partnership reconsider their work agenda around unique and distinctive materials, and this report, along with additional work, will provide a framework for community action.

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(US Letter .pdf)

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(.pdf)

The Realities of Research Data Management Part 1: A Tour of the Research Data Management (RDM) Service Space


The Realities of Research Data Management is a four-part series that explores how research universities are addressing the challenge of managing research data throughout the research lifecycle. In this introductory report, we provide some brief background on the emergence of RDM as a focus for research support services within higher education, and present a simple framework describing three major components of the RDM service space.

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(US Letter .pdf)

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(.pdf)

Addressing the Challenges with Organizational Identifiers and ISNI


This report focusses on organizational identifiers from the perspective of academic institutions and outlines a number of scenarios where the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) can be used to disambiguate organizations.

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(US Letter .pdf)

Building Blocks: Laying the Foundation for a Research Data Management Program


This report suggests very low-overhead ways for university libraries to begin supporting the research data management needs of their researchers and includes ways to add subsequent services as need and opportunity arise.

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(US Letter .pdf)

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(.pdf)

The Archival Advantage: Integrating Archival Expertise into Management of Born-digital Library Materials


This essay by Program Officer Jackie Dooley argues for involving archivists in the management of born-digital library materials (i.e., created and managed in digital form), and focuses on ten areas of archival expertise and their relevance to the digital context.

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(US Letter .pdf)

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(.pdf)

Making Archival and Special Collections More Accessible


Making Archival and Special Collections More Accessible represents the efforts of OCLC Research over the last seven years to support change in the end-to-end process that results in archival and special collections materials being delivered to interested users.

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(US Letter .pdf)

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(.pdf)

Stewardship of the Evolving Scholarly Record: From the Invisible Hand to Conscious Coordination


Written by Brian Lavoie and Constance Malpas, this report presents a view of future stewardship models of the evolving scholarly record and their practical implications.

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(US Letter .pdf)

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(.pdf)

Registering Researchers in Authority Files


Written by OCLC Research Program Officer Karen Smith-Yoshimura and the 13 members of the Registering Researchers in Authority Files Task Group comprised of specialists from the US, UK and the Netherlands, this report summarizes their research into approaches to providing authoritative researcher identifiers.

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(US Letter .pdf)

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(.pdf)


The Evolving Scholarly Record


This report presents a framework to help organize and drive discussions about the evolving scholarly record. The framework provides a high-level view of the categories of material the scholarly record potentially encompasses, as well as the key stakeholder roles associated with the creation, management, and use of the scholarly record.

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(US Letter .pdf)

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(.pdf)


Preservation Health Check: Monitoring Threats to Digital Repository Content


This report presents the preliminary findings of Phase 1 of our Preservation Health Check investigation of preservation monitoring and suggests that there is an opportunity to use PREMIS preservation metadata as an evidence base to support a threat assessment exercise based on the Simple Property-Oriented Threat (SPOT) model.

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(US Letter .pdf)

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(.pdf)


Does Every Research Library Need a Digital Humanities Center?


The digital humanities (DH) are attracting considerable attention and funding at the same time that this nascent field strives for an identity. Some research libraries are committing significant resources to creating DH centers. But questions about whether such an investment is warranted persist across the cultural heritage community. In this essay, Jennifer Schaffner and Ricky Erway suggest many ways to respond to the needs of digital humanists, and creating a DH center is appropriate in relatively few circumstances. They also share examples of successful collaborations with DH, but caution that one size does not fit all.

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(US Letter .pdf)


Starting the Conversation: University-wide Research Data Management Policy


This report is a call for action that summarizes the benefits of systemic data management planning and identifies the stakeholders and their concerns. It also suggests that the library director proactively initiate a conversation among these stakeholders to get buy-in for a high-level, responsible data planning and management policy that is proactive, rather than reactive.

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(US Letter .pdf)


Social Media and Archives: A Survey of Archive Users


This report details findings from a survey of users of archives to learn more about how researchers find out about systems like ArchiveGrid, and the role that social media, recommendations, reviews, and other forms of user-contributed annotation play in archival research. It will be of interest to those working with archival discovery services, or those investigating the utility of social media in discovery environments.

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(US Letter .pdf)


Tiers for Fears: Sensible, Streamlined Sharing of Special Collections


This report presents strategies for providing efficient and affordable interlending of actual physical items from special collections for research purposes, as well as advice on determining if a loan is the most appropriate way to fulfill a particular request.

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(US Letter .pdf)


Demystifying Born Digital Reports

You've Got to Walk Before You Can Run: First Steps for Managing Born-Digital Content Received on Physical Media


The first report is intended for anyone who doesn’t know where to begin in managing born-digital materials. It errs on the side of simplicity and describes what is truly necessary to start managing born-digital content on physical media, and it presents a list of the basic steps without expanding on archival theory or the use of particular software tools. It does not assume that policies are in place or that those performing the tasks are familiar with traditional archival practices, nor does it assume that significant IT support is available.

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(US Letter .pdf)


Demystifying Born Digital Reports

Swatting the Long Tail of Digital Media: A Call for Collaboration


The second report urges a collaborative approach for conversion of content on various types of digital media. As with First Steps, the document refers only to born-digital material on physical media. This essay is intended for managers who are making decisions on where to invest their born-digital time and money. It should help them understand that any expectations that local staff will be able to handle everything are probably impractical. We hope it’ll also help archivists (and others) in the trenches breathe a sigh of relief to think that perhaps they won’t have to deal with an array of obsolete media all on their own.

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(US Letter .pdf)


Demystifying Born Digital Reports

Walk This Way: Detailed Steps for Transferring Born-Digital Content from Media You Can Read In-house


The third report, collects the assembled wisdom of experienced practitioners to help those with less experience make appropriate choices in gaining control of born-digital content. It contains discrete steps with objectives, links to available tools and software, references and resources for further research and paths to engagement with the digital archives community.

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(US Letter .pdf)

Survey of Special Collections and Archives in the United Kingdom and Ireland


This report, produced in collaboration by OCLC Research and RLUK, builds on the foundation established by Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives [pdf], a report published in 2010 that provides a rigorous, evidence-based appraisal of the state of special collections in the US and Canada. The survey provides both evidence and a basis for action as part of the RLUK's Unique and Distinctive Collections workstrand and OCLC Research's Mobilizing Unique Materials theme.

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(US Letter .pdf)


Lasting Impact: Sustainability of Disciplinary Repositories


This report offers a quick environmental scan of the repository landscape and then focuses on disciplinary repositories—those subject-based, often researcher-initiated loci for research information. Seven of these repositories are profiled, with a focus on their varied business models. The report concludes with a discussion of sustainability, including funding models, factors that contribute to a repository's success, and ways to bring in additional revenue. It is intended to help librarians support researchers in accessing and disseminating research information.

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(US Letter .pdf)


Taking Stock and Making Hay: Archival Collections Assessment


This report identifies projects and methodologies that can be used as-is or serve as models for librarians, archivists and others who are considering collections assessment to meet one or several institutional needs. The goal of the report is to encourage a community of practice and to make it easier for institutions of all types to undertake collections assessment.

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(US Letter .pdf)


Single Search: The Quest for the Holy Grail


This report summarizes the discussions from an OCLC Research Library Partnership working group of nine single search implementers and highlights the emerging practices in providing single search access to library, archive and museum collections. The goal of the report is to foster successful single search implementations by sharing the experience of the working group with those who want to create single search but don't know where to start.

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(US Letter .pdf)


Supporting Research: Environments, Administration and Libraries


This report highlights the findings from two parallel studies of research support services in US and UK universities that OCLC Research and the UK's Research Information Network (RIN) undertook last year. It is the latest in a series of OCLC Research reports resulting from our Research Information Management thematic focus of work, the goal of which is to help reach a collective understanding of the responsibilities of, and opportunities for, libraries in a changed research environment.

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(US Letter .pdf)


Rapid Capture


This report provides examples of how to simplify and streamline digital capture of non-book collections. Nine case studies illustrate processes and procedures institutions have adopted to speed up digitization of special collections. The intent in sharing these vignettes is to enable others to consider whether or not any of the approaches could be applied to their own initiatives to increase the scale of their digitization efforts.

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(US Letter .pdf)


Taking our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives


This report provides the detailed findings from a 2009 OCLC Research survey of 275 institutions across the U.S. and Canada to determine norms across the community and to provide data to support decision making and priority setting. This survey updated and expanded a similar survey administered by the Association of Research Libraries in 1998, the outcomes of which catalyzed the special collections community and led directly to numerous high-profile initiatives to "expose hidden collections." Since then, recognition of the distinction that unique special collections bring to our institutions has greatly increased. Some key data points discovered in the 2009 survey include: far too many rare and unique materials remain "hidden"; the size of collections is growing rapidly; most institutions report increased numbers of onsite users; staffing generally remains stable; and digitization and born-digital archival records emerged as two of the three most challenging issues.

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(US Letter .pdf)