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The Future of Print

by | Nov 14, 2023 | 0 comments


This session featured 3 librarians based in Ontario, Canada, describing 2 case studies in modernizing print collections. Meg Ecclestone, Acting Head of Collections, University of Guelph began by discussing the collections of record initiative at her university. Collections of record are focused on print monographs and include distinct subject areas of circulating collections. They are a solution to the challenge of preserving scholarly materials but avoid the necessity of trying to collect everything. The reasons for the initiative are:

  • Preservation and long-term access to unique research collections,
  • Supporting future shared print strategies,
  • Allow weeding with confidence, and
  • Creating a medium-sized collection for a medium-sized university.

These collections are part of the university’s heritage and are aligned with its archives. For example, here are the subjects covered in Guelph’s collections of record.

And here is a tag cloud of the collections. (Food is prominent because Guelph markets itself as “Canada’s Food University”)

Eva Jurczyk, Coordinator, Humanities Collections at the University of Toronto noted that the university houses Canada’s largest research library. The library has no more room in its stacks for new publications, and its circulation is 10% of what it was 10 years ago. Because they are not able to add more books, they have partnered with other universities and have put 6 million low use but circulating titles in remote storage.

Monica Ward, Head, Collections Strategy at the University of Ottawa said that they make evidence-based decisions and focus on specific areas of their collection. They want to continue collecting print materials, so their solution to the overcrowding problem is to build collections collaboratively. Issues with collaboration include

  • Identifying a partner,
  • Ceding decision-making autonomy,
  • Harmonizing circulation policies,
  • Working across different ILSs,
  • Delivering material to users and becoming comfortable knowing that one size will not fit all,
  • Establishing cost sharing formulas (every library pays for what they order and then puts in a shared facility), and
  • Creating digital surrogates where allowable under Canadian copyright law.

Challenges can be turned into opportunities. 

This was an appropriate for the conclusion of the session. It was taken from a report published in 2017 at Arizona State University and is available at http://hdl.handle.net/2286/R.I.50125

Don Hawkins, Conference Blogger


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