August 2022

Library Collaboration as a Strategic Choice: Evaluating Options for Acquiring Capacity

by Brian Lavoie

The OCLC Research report Library Collaboration as a Strategic Choice: Evaluating Options for Acquiring Capacity explores library collaboration as a key strategy for academic libraries in acquiring needed capacity, but also contextualizes it as one sourcing approach among a range of options available to libraries. 

The decision for academic libraries to collaborate can yield distinct benefits, but not without an often-significant investment of effort, attention, and resources. Library collaboration needs to be weighed against the pros and cons of alternative ways of acquiring capacity. In short, collaboration is a decision that needs to be approached strategically. 

This report provides insight and tools to support academic libraries in making intentional decisions about cross-institutional collaboration opportunities to acquire capacity, including:

  • A menu of common sourcing strategies available to libraries 
  • Key considerations and trade-offs associated with these strategies
  • A summary of foundational economic concepts that help deepen understanding of the collaboration option 

The stakes of choosing library collaboration to acquire capacity—whether to support research data management (RDM), digital curation and preservation, print management, or any other area of library interest—have been heightened by a host of factors, like advances in new technologies, changing user expectations, evolving research practices, economic pressures, and increased prioritization of diversity, equity, and inclusion outcomes have led many institutions to explore collaboration as a means of addressing these environmental shifts. 

This report offers insights and resources that can help academic libraries in thinking about whether to choose the collaboration option and in selecting the most effective forms of collaboration to meet strategic goals. The frameworks and tools offered in this report also can help with communicating sourcing decisions—especially those involving collaboration—to staff and other stakeholders. This in turn can improve transparency around sourcing decisions and, ultimately, strengthen buy-in from those impacted by the outcomes.

Supplemental Material


A two-page flyer summarizing the Library Collaboration as a Strategic Choice research report and its takeaways.

Download US Letter .pdf

Download A4 .pdf


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OCLC Research encourages the reuse and distribution of our work by providing it with a CC By 4.0 license. For your convenience we have created Power Point slides for the most requested images, complete with suggested citation. Please feel free to use these slides in your presentations or publications without the need to request further permission.

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Lavoie, Brian. 2022. Library Collaboration as a Strategic Choice: Evaluating Options for Acquiring Capacity. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research.