Access to Special Materials

Access to restricted, noncirculating, and special collections materials that partners would not normally lend.

As a SHARES participant, your access to other SHARES partners' collections means you can get unique or hard-to-find materials for your users through priority interlibrary loans. In a recent poll, SHARES libraries reported borrowing an astonishing array of rare, old, valuable, non-traditional format, and otherwise normally noncirculating materials. One library noted that they have borrowed a privately printed novel from NYPL, a set of Egyptian maps from 1872 from Stanford, an oversized French art book from University of Glasgow, and an 1896 Spanish imprint from the Latin American collection of the University of Texas at Austin. Another library noted a similar litany of recently-borrowed treasures: an 1874 Turkish imprint in French from NYPL, a DVD and a South African government document from Stanford, a reference book on early children's literature from Trinity College Dublin, and a 1930 Russian imprint from the Getty. The examples go on and on. Within SHARES, the remarkable becomes routine.

"SHARES libraries are of immeasurable help in filling requests for older, rare and/or otherwise hard-to-obtain items that are regularly requested by our researchers...Without the generosity of SHARES libraries with stronger retrospective collections than ours, including NYPL & the museums, we would experience MUCH greater challenges meeting these needs and would not be able to obtain some items, at all. The increasing number of overseas libraries in SHARES is also a big plus for us."
—Emory University

"My users very often tell me that they can't believe the kinds of things we are able to get on interlibrary loan. Articles from 19th century periodicals, obscure foreign publications, dissertations and even masters theses. The collections of SHARES libraries are collectively so rich that I can get the vast majority of what I need from them, even though my users often request pretty arcane stuff."
—Metropolitan Museum of Art

"We have been astounded by the sorts of materials which some of our US colleagues are prepared to send winging on their way. In such cases, we are usually going through the motions to prove to our readers that we are at least trying, never expecting to succeed."
—University of Edinburgh

"SHARES helps us get those hard to find items. It is good to know we can really, really, rely on SHARES institutions; everyone goes all out and provides items we would normally not be able to obtain."
—Stony Brook University

"Recently, we received a microfilm reel of Italian books 1601-1700 from the National Library of Australia - AUT was the only holding location on OCLC. The consortium is rich because of its library diversity. The art and museum libraries are willing to supply non-circulating material to SHARES partners. We make this special material in-library-use only and our researchers are grateful to get to use it."
—Pennsylvania State University

"Some things we have right now include an 1844 Indian publication (in Persian) from the University of Chicago; a 3-CD sound "sound documentary" by Glenn Gould from Emory University; multiple dissertations from places such as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Princeton; microfilm from an early 20th century Parisian daily newspaper from Yale; and multiple auction catalogs from places like the Getty, Clark Institute, Cleveland Museum, and the National Gallery; and the list goes on."
—Metropolitan Museum of Art

"The willingness of SHARES partners to lend their rare and valuable resources is a source of regular amazement and a truly valuable resource for our institution. We attempt to reciprocate for SHARES institutions at every turn."
—Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

"Tarlton has been incredibly helpful with older materials that others would not loan (assuming they even had them) for our legal history scholars. We do not need this kind of material often, but when we do, the consortium is a Godsend."
—SMU Law

"We take seriously the SHARES policy to assess each item requested regardless of location or status. Because of this we may loan rare items, reference area (non-circulating) items, etc., if possible to our SHARES partners."
—University of Washington School of Law

Share Special Collections

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

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Policy Rethink

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

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SHARES Project Team

SHARES is managed by the SHARES Executive Group


Dennis Massie

Contact Us

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.