One of the more interesting library developments in recent years has been the growing interest in cooperative approaches to the storage and management of collections. This has been made more real by pressures on space, and the opportunity cost of using that space to house print collections. Such collaborative sourcing throws up the need for policy frameworks. A recent study, the Shared Print Policy Review Report [pdf], was carried out under the auspices of the RLG Partnership Shared Print Collections Working Group and examined emerging frameworks across a range of initiatives.
In summary, our study suggests that libraries interested in adopting cooperative print management regimes on a limited scale, typically determined by geographic proximity, can do so with relative ease, provided certain core elements are included in a formal collection-sharing agreement. Based on a review of existing policies, three critical components were identified as necessary to securing an inter-institutional accord on print collection management:
- An explicit retention commitment (regardless of duration) for titles committed to the shared archive;
- Identification of conditions under which materials may be recalled or temporarily withdrawn from the archive;
- Definition of terms: duplication, withdrawal, what constitutes reasonable effort to replace lost or missing items, etc.