SHARES Policy Rethink

Throughout calendar year 2018 and into early 2019, the SHARES Executive Group (SEG) has engaged with all SHARES participants, and with staff at OCLC Research Library Partnership institutions who are considering joining SHARES, in rethinking SHARES policies and values. This Rethink has been organized around five themes, taken up and explored in sequence as the months unfold. Coming soon: outcomes of each discussion, and follow-up work being taken up by the SHARES Best Practices Working Group.

SEG members believe that this conversation is an essential step toward positioning SHARES to play a vibrant role in a resource sharing future where the emphasis is always on the patron, and where consortia will increasingly be the venue for the advancement of library collections and services.

Join the Discussion

The SHARES Policy Rethink discussions are happening now.  The conversation is taking place primarily on the SHARES-L discussion listserv and is open to everyone in the Research Library Partnership; you are not required to be a SHARES member to be part of the discussion.

Join the Discussion

Themes and Timeline:

Encourage Evidence-based Processes
February-March 2018
Encourage an evidenced-based streamlining of processes that will unburden staff, enhance fulfillment, and bring the library user experience closer to that of Amazon and Google.

  1. Data suggests that longer (12- to 16-week) loan periods result in fewer renewal requests and recalls, which leads to greater patron satisfaction.

  2. Data also suggests that very few books are out on loan via ILL when needed at home, and a miniscule proportion of those cannot easily be borrowed from another consortial partner.

  3. Anecdotal evidence shows that, aside from special cases involving the retrieval of distant material or having to get special permission to make an exception, lenders do not need the time allotted by the current SHARES turnaround time guidelines in order to fulfill requests.

SHARES Executive Group Proposal: Encourage SHARES-wide adoption of 12- to 16-week loan periods and modernize the SHARES turnaround time expectations.

Build in Flexibility
April-May 2018
Build some flexibility into selected SHARES policies and guidelines, allowing members to behave according to their own values and priorities, focusing on the aspects of collection-sharing that are most important for their institutions.

  1. Some institutions care more about speed, privileged access, or generous terms of use over cost and choose to enter into reciprocal non-charging relationships where quick fulfillment, frequent exceptions, and extended loan periods take precedence.

  2. Some institutions must be self-funding and need to manage their relationships in such a way that they can pay for their own costs.

  3. Some institutions, because of deep collections and exceptional lending prowess, are big net lenders and need to recover some costs if they are to continue to lend.

SHARES Executive Group Proposal: Manage a reciprocal non-charging SHARES subgroup so that those who don’t want to charge don’t have to, and those who must, can.

Enhance Access
June-November 2018

Enhance access to materials according to patron preferences, both for items obtained for them through interlibrary loan and by improving the SHARES reciprocal onsite access experience.  

  1. Patron preferences for e-format or hard copy should be honored.

  2. Reciprocal onsite access (and, when viable, onsite borrowing) should be an option for most classes of patrons.

  3. The sharing of special collections should be promoted.

  4. The patron experience with requesting ILL materials and placing holds should be streamlined and simplified.

  5. Best practices in delivering from storage facilities should be identified and shared.

  6. Affinity groups within SHARES should be explored as another means of sharing resources, expertise, and common challenges with birds-of-a-feather partners

SHARES Executive Group Proposal: Enhance the reciprocal onsite access user experience by providing better directory information, following up with patrons about their experiences, expanding the procedural language to include non-academic users, and, where possible as part of the upcoming SHARES Reciprocal Onsite Borrowing pilot project, offer reciprocal onsite borrowing.

Embrace Local Procedures that Add Value
December 2018
Achieve greater administrative efficiencies locally by emphasizing actions that add value to the user experience and enhance the relationship between the patron and the library, while striving to let go of actions that add no value for patrons.

  1. Data suggests that the loss rate for ILL books is so low that automatically charging borrowing libraries replacement costs may not be worth the administrative costs.

  2. Many SHARES libraries report discontinuing local policy that returns ILL requests to patrons who ask for items already owned by the library, with an explanation of how to access such items; instead these libraries are moving to a new policy of simply providing these items to the requesting patrons.

SHARES Executive Group Proposal: Encourage libraries to charge for ILL replacement costs on a case-by-case basis, depending on characteristics of the material and the relationship with the partner; encourage libraries to consider providing materials to local ILL patrons who request items already owned by the library, rather than returning such requests to the patrons with instructions on how to access the items.

Mitigate International Sharing Costs
January 2019
Explore the feasibility of processes designed to mitigate the financial impact of sharing returnable items across borders and overseas.  

  1. Materials available for purchase more cheaply than the cost of shipping both ways should be purchased.

  2. Materials should be resourced within a country before being sought outside the country.

  3. Borrowers will increasingly be expected to pay full shipping costs. (Note: Item C is mentioned as an apparent emerging trend, not as a proposed SHARES policy change.)

SHARES Executive Group Proposal: Encourage borrowing libraries, with new guidelines, to exhaust cheaper and closer alternatives before asking to borrow a returnable item from overseas.

Post your comments on the OCLCRLP-SHARES-L discussion list.

Share Special Collections

The SHARES Sharing Special Collections Working Group has the tools you need to sensibly borrow and lend special collections materials.

Learn More

Policy Rethink

In 2018 and 2019, the SHARES Executive Group engaged with all SHARES participants in rethinking SHARES policies and values.

Learn More

SHARES Project Team

SHARES is managed by the SHARES Executive Group


Dennis Massie

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Please use this form for all your SHARES questions, including inquiring about SHARES, reaching out to a SHARES admin, updating contact details, seeking guidance from an ILL expert, or requesting to be paired with a SHARES buddy.