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New OCLC Research report provides evidence base for shift to shared print management approach


OCLC Research has released a new report, “Understanding the Collective Collection: Towards a System-wide Perspective on Library Print Collections,” which establishes evidence that has allowed and encouraged libraries to begin the shift from local provisioning of library collections and services to increased reliance on cooperative infrastructure, collective collections, shared technology platforms, and “above-the-institution” management strategies.

“Understanding the Collective Collection” collects important work OCLC Research has done for the community in recent years in providing a quantitative, analytic, system-wide view of library collections. It provides critical context for the policy, service and strategy questions raised by shared print discussions in the library community.

These discussions are driven by several factors:

  • Interest in shared print strategies has had several drivers: Google Books; the digital turn: changing patterns of research and learning; the opportunity costs of current use of space; efficient access to materials; and a general move to collaboration.
  • The network turn is leading to changes in the focus, boundaries and value of library collections.
  • Libraries and the organisations that provide services to them are devoting more attention to system-wide organisation of collections—whether the “system” is a consortium, a region or a country.
  • Libraries are beginning to evolve arrangements that facilitate long-term shared management of the print literature as individual libraries begin to manage down their local capacity.
  • A system-wide perspective signals a real shift in emphasis.

Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC Vice President, Research, and Chief Strategistc, co-authored the report and described OCLC Research’s three broad interests around better understanding the existing collective collection and supporting the optimal evolution of reconfigured collections:

  1. Understanding the characteristics of the collective print collection
  2. Supporting policy and service decision-making with good intelligence based on WorldCat and other data resources
  3. Understanding patterns or trends within the scholarly and cultural record.

View and download the report