Sharing Special Collections: Get Information, Get Engaged

Working group releases written report on the current state of sharing special collections through interlibrary loan across the SHARES partnership.

Sharing special collections through interlibrary loan (ILL) is increasingly becoming a common and accepted practice. SHARES, the resource sharing consortium for members of the OCLC Research Library Partnership, is proud to support and join this community-wide conversation of promoting greater access to special collection items. 

Earlier this year, members of the SHARES consortium formed the OCLC SHARES Sharing Special Collections Working Group. This group conducted a survey to gather information on the current state of sharing special collections through interlibrary loan across the SHARES partnership. The working group presented its initial findings from the survey in a July Works-In-Progress webinar and has prepared a comprehensive written report concerning the survey results. 

The working group invites the broader library community to review this interim report. Many libraries are already sharing special collections through article/chapter scans, digitization of whole works in the public domain, or physical loans of selective materials with appropriate usage and shipping restrictions. The SHARES survey demonstrates that there is still opportunity for additional collaboration across library units and across institutions to meet the continuing research needs of our communities.

We urge ILL practitioners and special collections librarians to engage with each other about the possibilities at your institution. (This 2013 OCLC Research report contains some tools for planning and informing such conversations.) We also encourage you to have consortial conversations on how best to optimize access to special collections materials while balancing stewardship and preservation with a collaborative mindset.   

The next step for the SHARES Sharing Special Collections Working Group is to recommend a framework of protocols and practices for sharing selective special collections materials among members of the SHARES consortium. We hope that this initial report sparks continuing interest in the subject, adds to momentum begun by the Ivy Plus, Big Ten Academic Alliance, Association of Southeastern Research Libraries, Washington Research Library Consortium, and Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries groups, and starts broader discussions in the ILL community that are vital to enhancing access to special collections materials through interlibrary loan in appropriate and responsible ways.

For questions/comments, please get in touch with Senior Program Officer Dennis Massie or any member of the working group.

For More Information

For more information about this work, please contact OCLC Research.

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