Shared Storage for Journal Content

Management of print collections continues to be a pressing issue – not just for OSU but for libraries around the country.  Some of the solutions we have begun to implement such as the CIC Shared Print Repository are making real progress.  The issues of comparing and identifying serial volumes, handling the technical services processes for transferring and properly controlling the movement and location of pieces, and the transfer of those serial volumes is substantive and time consuming.  But, that work is made easier by these policy factors:

  • The content being transferred to a shared storage facility is fully available in electronic form.
  • The content is very discoverable by the user and they can navigate quickly to the full text online.
  • The content is backed up by local loading in the OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center or through other mechanisms such as Portico.
  • Virtually no one prefers to use the content in print rather than in electronic form.

As a result, it’s fairly easy to make a policy decision that a single print copy of this journal content can be housed at Indiana University and will serve the long term needs of all members of the CIC.  Material that we have in duplicate can be removed.

Shared Storage for Monographic Content

So while others work to execute the policy decisions above, my thoughts have become to turn to the issue of shared monograph storage.  This is clearly a much more complex issue with few simple and obvious solutions.  But, we can predict a few things that will likely occur in the next 3-5 years:

  • More of OSU’s book collection will be digitized by Google.
  • We’ll buy more digital copies of existing print books.
  • The mechanisms for reading online and with a tablet device will continue to improve.

Knowing those things means that we have to begin to think about how to go about shared storage of monographs.

Research Studies with OCLC

In 2011, OCLC released a report that concluded that:  “system-wide reorganization of collections and services that maximize the business value of print as a cooperative resource is both feasible and capable of producing great benefit to the academic library community.” (Cloud-sourcing Research Collections: Managing Print in the Mass-digitized Library Environment (Malpas 2011), p. 64 —  In 2012, OCLC released an intriguing publication – Print Management at “Mega-scale”: A Regional Perspective on Print Book Collections in North America – which can be found here:  Here’s a brief executive summary of the report:

The report “provides insight into the characteristics of a network of regionally consolidated print collections, key relationships across these collections, and their implications for system-wide issues such as information access, mass digitization, resource sharing, and preservation of library resources.

An analysis of regionally consolidated print collections, such as this current mega-regions report, requires a framework of regional consolidation, as well as data to support collection analysis within that framework. Our work in this area utilized urbanist Richard Florida’s mega-regions framework and the WorldCat bibliographic database to explore the North American print book resource as a network of regionally consolidated shared collections. Mega-regions are geographical regions defined on the basis of economic integration and other forms of interdependence. Using the mega-regions framework as the basis for a theoretical consolidation of library print resources enabled us to re-imagine the “natural boundaries” of collection management and to consider these regional aggregations in the context of shared traditions, mutual interests, and the needs of overlapping constituencies. The result is a new mapping of North American print collections against empirically derived zones of economic and cultural integration, robust knowledge flows, and networks of exchange.

Analysis of the regional collections is synthesized into a set of stylized facts describing their salient characteristics, as well as key cross-regional relationships among the collections. These stylized facts motivate a number of key implications regarding access, management, preservation, and other topics considered in the context of a network of regionally consolidated print book collections. The report also provides a simple framework for organizing the landscape of print book collection consolidation models, as well as for clarifying and distinguishing basic assumptions regarding print consolidation. Print Management at “Mega-scale” offers a unique perspective on the new geography of library service provision, in which services and collections are increasingly organized “above the institution.”

The report asks a key question:  “would the regional collections constitute a system of similar print book aggregations duplicated in different geographical regions, or would each collection represent a relatively unique component of the broader, system-wide print book corpus?”

There’s a bit more about this in OCLC’s hangingtogether blog at

CIC, OSU and OCLC Proposal

The report talks at some length about the CHI-PITT region – yes, that’s Chicago to Pittsburgh, a region that includes the bulk of the original CIC institutions (before the addition of Nebraska, Rutgers and Maryland).  The region doesn’t include Illinois, Iowa, Penn State or Indiana because the communities in which they are located are more rural in nature.  But it’s not much of a stretch to include those major institutions in a refinement of the region.

This prompted me to initiate a conversation with the Office of Research at OCLC about the mega regions report and the CIC.  They were intrigued and we crafted together a proposal for discussion with the CIC Library Directors at their late November 2012 meeting in Chicago.  In particular the section which begins on p. 19 in the PDF of the report talks about the mega-regions and the CIC (see discussion on p.45).

OCLC and I proposed the following to the CIC Library Directors and we have agreed to serve as the test CIC library.

We propose to undertake an analysis of print books held by a representative CIC member library with a view to understanding their value to the parent institution, the CIC consortium, and the surrounding Chi-Pitts mega-region. WorldCat bibliographic and holdings data and aggregated inter-lending statistics will be used to characterize local print book collection in context of CIC collective print book resource and Chi-Pitts regional resource. This analysis is expected to address the following questions:

  • What part of the local print book collection represents a distinctive asset when compared to holdings within the CIC or within the larger Chi-Pitts mega-region?
  • What are the characteristics of these distinctive resources with respect to topical coverage, age, and work-set level holdings (i.e. library holdings for related editions)?
  • What part of the collection maps to shared library investments across the CIC cohort, i.e. ‘core’ titles that are widely duplicated within the consortium? Are there widely-held books in the local collection that could be made available as a shared resource, enabling other institutions to reduce redundant investment?


The bulk of the work on this study will be done by OCLC.  Let me be clear that this is simply an initial study to understand better the scope of our collection and how it compares with our peer institutions in the CIC.  No decisions have been made to move or store our monograph collection remotely.  Instead, we’re beginning the appropriate work to understand our collection better as a part of the larger regional collection.  The hangingtogether blog posting includes a mention of the study.