In response to input from University Libraries’ colleagues requesting to hear more about what our Associate Directors are working on and/or thinking about, we are interspersing guest posts from the ADs on the From the Director blog. Here’s a guest post from Karla Strieb, Associate Director for Content & Access…

Communities of collaboration are crucial to our work in the Libraries and for our users to do their work. We invest funds but also substantial employee time into library collaborations like OhioLINK and HathiTrust. The Big Ten Academic Alliance is one of our longest standing collaborative communities – dating back to 1958 for Ohio State.

Our work in communities of collaboration aligns with our values and our strategic priorities and often is an essential path to achieving our goals. I’m reminded of this by the recent statement by the BTAA, “The BIG Collection”. This statement builds on recent research commissioned by the BTAA from the OCLC Research Library Partnership, “Operationalizing the BIG Collective Collection.”

The BIG Collection statement starts:

We, the leaders of the libraries within the Big Ten Academic Alliance, are committed to coordinated
stewardship of the print scholarly record. Our history of collaboration positions our libraries to play a significant role in sustaining access to the unique and distinctive resources held in our collections, and our growing network capacity offers significant potential for working at scale to effect greater collective impact going forward.

This publicly articulated commitment aligns completely with our own commitments at the Libraries. Our work with conserving our collections, ensuring accurate description, housing our collections in climate-controlled spaces, and acting to keep the costs of housing our collections sustainable through strategic expansion of our high density storage facility. We have recently placed retention commitments on nearly one million of our print monographs in conjunction with the HathiTrust Shared Print Program (the BTAA is a founding partner in HathiTrust). Retention commitments signal our commitment to ongoing stewardship and access to the print scholarly record.

The public statement also highlights the extent to which this focus is built on a solid and long-standing foundation of collaboration over decades. While the BTAA will be expanding its collaborative work, it is not starting from scratch. We’re already doing considerable licensing of e-resources, investing in digital accessibility, engaging in shared serials retention, partnering with Google to scan our collections, and exploring pathways to opening access to our universities’ published research through the BTAA.

The BIG Collection statement further notes:

Going forward, we will orient our collective actions around the challenges and opportunities that come with interdependence and will implement the necessary systems, policies, and services needed to create an integrated user experience of the networked collections, from discovery to delivery. We will individually and collectively invest in strategies that transition our focus from building local collections to creating a shared, fully networked collection that supports our local students and scholars.

This signals a collective intention to align our local investments where possible but also to increase our collective investment through the Big Ten Academic Alliance. For now, this is a statement, not a plan. So much more remains to be done before we know exactly what kinds of collective investments might make sense or what kinds of resources are required – likely both funds and the time and talent of our employees. Groups are currently being formed to look into two areas – intentional collection management coordination and developing enhanced access services. We expect to learn more in the coming months.

In closing I will note that we, at Ohio State, are perhaps uniquely fortunate (or strategic) in participating in two of the leading collaboration communities in the world, the BTAA and OhioLINK. I believe that this positions us to align and synergize our investments in both communities without requiring us to “choose between them”. While certainly we will decide in some cases to invest more with one or the other at the project or program level, these communities often tackle different challenges and operate at different scales.