Stewarding the Collective Collection


Collective collections are “the combined holdings of a group of libraries, analyzed and possibly managed as a unified resource.” 1 They are an important aspect of collection stewardship; they provide intelligence to inform decision-making about collections at both local and group scales.

OCLC Research has long been a leader in the study of collective collections, beginning with a study of the collective collection of the five original participants in the Google book digitization project. As the work has continued over an extended arc of studies, OCLC Research has developed concepts, frameworks, and innovative patterns of analysis for collective collections at group, regional, and global scales. This draws on the unique analytical opportunities afforded by WorldCat bibliographic and holdings data.

Two current projects represent OCLC’s continued interest in collective collections. 

Stewarding the Collective Collection: Exploratory Data Analysis
A collaborative project between OCLC and The Partnership for Shared Book Collections has examined the nature of retention commitments currently registered in WorldCat. This builds on the previous work of OCLC and the Center for Research Libraries, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, to support shared print. 

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Stewarding the Collective Collection: Data and Tools for Shared Print Workflows
Stewarding the Collective Collection: US & Canadian Perspectives on Data and Tools for Shared Print Workflows is investigating the data and tools used and needed to support stewardship of and access to monographic shared collections.

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These and other initiatives have helped OCLC build a strong conceptual and evidence-based foundation on which individual libraries and groups of libraries can collaboratively build, manage, and curate collective collections.




1 Lavoie, Brian, Lorcan Dempsey, and Constance Malpas. 2020. "Reflections on Collective Collections." College & Research Libraries 81, no. 6: 981.