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Shared print and the collective collection

OCLC’s continued leadership in shared print relies on our established infrastructure, network, and expertise. This foundation allows your library or group to collaboratively build, manage, and curate the collective collection.

Why shared print?

An effective shared print program empowers you to:

  • Protect the scholarly record
  • Share the costs of maintaining low-use titles
  • Reclaim prime library space through responsible deselection

Our shared print registration and discovery tools give you the data you need to support a comprehensive shared print program in your library.

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About a year ago, OCLC completed a two-year project (funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation) with the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) that, among other enhancements, added support for the registration of serial retention commitments in WorldCat. These enhancements not only help improve discovery of shared print data across all OCLC services, but bolster CRL's Print Archives Preservation Registry (PAPR) and other partner efforts.

At the time that project was completed, we estimated OCLC and its member institutions would register about 15 million commitments over the course of the year. As of today, the community has actually added over 23 million retention commitments.

While there are many, many institutions and partners contributing to the success of this program, I’d like to take a moment recognize our top contributors...


WorldCat's role in the collective collection

More than 18,000 libraries share data and collections through WorldCat

WorldCat offers a representation of the global scholarly and cultural record through the lens of library collections. By maintaining holdings in WorldCat, your library joins thousands of others to collaborate and share your collections at scale.

As you think about the future of your print collection, there are new pressures on the use of library space, growing comfort with electronic and digital resources, and more opportunities to share print items with other libraries. Participating in a collective collection through WorldCat removes your obligation to own every print resource your users may request. Instead, you only need to connect with other libraries to access what you need.

We’re already helping many libraries manage down their local print collections with a responsible approach that respects the scholarly and cultural record. There are approximately 16,000 libraries who share data and collections through WorldCat. The OCLC services built on this foundation give you the information you need to make essential decisions about what print resources to share and what you can count on others to provide.


Register your commitments

Through WorldShare® Collection Manager, you can easily register shared print retention commitments in WorldCat and contribute to the collective collection.

  • Register single- and multi-part monographs and serials in bulk
  • Eliminate the need for multiple profiles
  • Enable group or agent registration 
  • Submit and edit commitment metadata in MARC format, and output MARC records in multiple formats

This service is already included with your library’s full OCLC Cataloging and Metadata Subscription.

Open your commitments to discovery

When other libraries can find your shared print commitments, you can better share your resources. When you register your shared print commitments in WorldCat, other libraries can find your resources through a variety of services—and you can also find their resources.

Shared print retention commitments are discoverable in a variety of OCLC services, each ideal for different use cases. For example, query collections in Collection Manager allow for bulk download of retention data. The WorldCat Metadata API offers dynamic access to registered commitments. And FirstSearch, Connexion, and WorldShare Record Manager help you find shared print commitments in your regular workflows.

Analyze and visualize your collection

As you consider which print items you can commit to retain and share, you’ll need detailed information to support those choices. Our GreenGlass application combines your library’s data with data from WorldCat, such as title popularity, other libraries’ commitments, and open access availability. GreenGlass® pulls this information into dynamic visualizations that support evidence-based decisions about which print titles to retain, move out of regular circulation, or deselect.

  • Explore your collection in the context of the world’s collective collection
  • Quickly model deselection and print management scenarios
  • Generate custom reports and lists to support collection management and shared print activities

Connect with your shared print community

The OCLC Community Center hosts a GreenGlass and Shared Print community where users can read news, participate in discussions, share ideas, register for events, and more. This community is accessible to GreenGlass users and full cataloging subscribers.

If you haven’t already, request access to the OCLC Community Center to participate. If you already use the Community Center and your library has a full cataloging or GreenGlass subscription, you should see the GreenGlass and Shared Print community once you log in. 

Log in to the OCLC Community Center

Shared collections research

Your library exists in an increasingly complex network guided by resource supply and demand. Through deep and insightful research, we can help you organize your collections and services within this shifting network environment.

We continue to add to our substantial body of research exploring the trend toward shared collections management, especially in North America. In addition to the reports below, you can find resources in our Collective Collections research area.

    Reflections on Collective Collections

    16 January 2020

    Brian Lavoie, Lorcan Dempsey, Constance Malpas

    Collective collections are the combined holdings of a group of libraries, analyzed and possibly managed as a unified resource. Constructing, understanding, and operationalizing collective collections is an increasingly important aspect of collection management for many libraries. This article presents some general insights about collective collections, drawn from a series of studies conducted by OCLC.

    The US and Canadian Collective Print Book Collection: A 2019 Snapshot

    26 September 2019

    Brian Lavoie

    In this position paper, Lavoie traces the contours of the US and Canadian collective print book collection—the collective print book holdings of all libraries in the US and Canada whose collections are registered in WorldCat. The paper examines the US/Canadian collective print book collection for insight and trends and includes a new rendering of the mega-regional map of US/Canadian Collective Print Book Collections.

    Operationalizing the BIG Collective Collection: A Case Study of Consolidation vs Autonomy

    20 August 2019

    Lorcan Dempsey, Constance Malpas, Mark Sandler

    The proposed framework recommends strategies for advancing the Big Ten Academic Alliance’s (BTAA) collective collections toward a more purposeful coordination of their print collections. It defines four traits of a purposeful collective collection that can also apply broadly to other consortium settings.

View more shared collections research

Learn more

OCLC Shared Print Solutions

Download the shared print quick reference guide

Member stories

Entrance of Te Pātaka Kōrero, the library at Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington

Advance research through ongoing collection assessment

Learn how Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington keeps print collections updated and lean to support modern research needs.

The University of New Mexico's University Library

Select resources for off-site storage with confidence and transparency

Understand how The University of New Mexico's library staff gained support and enthusiasm from faculty when moving library resources to off-site storage.