Stewardship of the Evolving Scholarly Record: From the Invisible Hand to Conscious Coordination
by Brian Lavoie and Constance Malpas
The scholarly record is increasingly digital and networked, while at the same time expanding in both the volume and diversity of the material it contains. This report describes the key features of future stewardship models adapted to the characteristics of a digital, networked scholarly record, and discusses some practical implications of implementing them.
- As the scholarly record continues to evolve, conscious coordination will become an important organizing principle for stewardship models.
- Past stewardship models were built on an "invisible hand" approach that relied on the uncoordinated, institution-scale efforts of individual academic libraries acting autonomously to maintain local collections.
- Future stewardship of the evolving scholarly record requires conscious coordination of context, commitments, specialization, and reciprocity.
- With conscious coordination, local stewardship efforts leverage scale by collecting more of less.
- Keys to conscious coordination include right-scaling consolidation, cooperation, and community mix.
- Reducing transaction costs and building trust facilitate conscious coordination.
- Incentives to participate in cooperative stewardship activities should be linked to broader institutional priorities.
The long-term future of the scholarly record in its fullest expression cannot be effectively secured with stewardship strategies designed for print materials. The features of the evolving scholarly record suggest that traditional stewardship strategies, built on an “invisible hand” approach that relies on the uncoordinated, institution-scale efforts of individual academic libraries acting autonomously to maintain local collections, is no longer suitable for collecting, organizing, making available, and preserving the outputs of scholarly inquiry.
As the scholarly record continues to evolve, conscious coordination will become an important organizing principle for stewardship models. Conscious coordination calls for stewardship strategies that incorporate a broader awareness of the system-wide stewardship context; declarations of explicit commitments around portions of the local collection; formal divisions of labor within cooperative arrangements; and robust networks for reciprocal access. Stewardship strategies based on conscious coordination involve an acceleration of an already perceptible transition away from relatively autonomous local collections to ones built on networks of cooperation across many organizations, within and outside the traditional cultural heritage community.
Additional context can be found in our earlier report, The Evolving Scholarly Record.
This work is part of our Understanding the System-wide Library theme, in which we explore the characteristics and organization of collections, services, and infrastructure at scale. The goal of this work is to improve our understanding of the factors that guide institutions in their sourcing and scaling choices as they seek maximum impact and efficient provision of library collections and services.
Lavoie, Brian and Constance Malpas. 2015. Stewardship of the Evolving Scholarly Record: From the Invisible Hand to Conscious Coordination. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research. https://doi.org/10.25333/C3J63N.