We have just made available a report on shared storage facilities and the future of print collections as part of the Collective Collection strand of the RLG Programs agenda. It is written by Lizanne Payne, Executive Director of the Washington Research Library Consortium.
It reviews storage facility designs and the extent of their use; the context supporting the development and use of off-site storage facilities; the key trends of shared journal archives, last- and single-copy facilities, “virtual storage,” mass digitization, and local scanning and print-on-demand technology; and considers the future of library print collections, including the potential development of a distributed print repository network.
The author concludes that high-density library storage facilities have moved into the mainstream for collection management in academic libraries, and that this is the optimum time for the academic and library communities to leverage this collective capacity to develop a broader, system-wide approach to maintaining print collections across institutional boundaries. [Library Storage Facilities and the Future of Print Collections in North America PDF]
I believe that we will see a major reassessment of print collection management over the next few years. Mass digitization, the opportunity costs of using valuable central space for storage, and the changing behaviors of researchers and learners are all contributing to a reevaluation of physical library collections.