SPEC Kit 337: Print Retention Decision Making · 113
Collection Retention Working Group: Report and Recommendations
The Penn State University Libraries are examining these issues in the context of national efforts
by research institutions to collaborate more effectively. Initiatives currently underway include
developing consensus on national standards for the preservation of resources stored in tangible
and digital formats and evaluating the potential for reliable access to shared collections,
including the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) Print Archives Preservation Registry
(PAPR), the CIC Shared Print Repository, and the PALCI agreement to store print-format back-
ups of digitized science and technology journals.
In late fall 2011, the Collections Retention Policy Working Group (CRPWG), a subgroup of the
Collections Services Advisory Group (CSAG), was charged (see Appendix A) to formulate a
retention policy for the next ten years and make recommendations for implementation.
Work of the Collections Retention Policy Working Group
In addition to bi-weekly discussions, the Group reviewed a variety of publications,
presentations, webcasts, and pre-conferences. The Group also benchmarked against other CIC
institution retention policies, consulted a number of resources and reports related to print
retention, and explored definitions and methods for identifying trusted digital and print
repositories (see Sources Consulted for a complete list).
For several reasons, the Group came to the understanding that retention policies for
journals/periodicals should be considered separately from retention policies for monographs.
First, online journals have been part of libraries for several decades and therefore have had more
time for issues such as adherence to standards, licensing, preservation, access and other issues to
be resolved. Second, many more libraries have licensed online journals than e-books, so there is
a greater corpus of archived copies, collaborative agreements and other “backups” in place.
Third, the content of journals, unlike that of most books, is often sought as a discrete unit,
requiring no context, such that the whole (i.e. volume) is oftentimes less important than the
parts (i.e. articles). Fourth, individual copies of journal issues are less likely to have marginalia,
bookplates or other additions that would make one copy more valuable than another.
During the course of its discussions, the members of the Group realized that using our annexes
effectively requires that selectors think differently about long-term and permanent retention of
collections. In the past, annex space was largely seen as a place to move collections out of the
way as the stacks filled. No detailed policies or guidelines exist to inform use of the annexes
nor have we carefully considered retention policies for PSUL collections and materials that have
been digitized.1 In addition, while some subject and campus libraries have done an effective job
1 The only document which articulates what is retained in the Libraries’ annexes is included in the “working
guidelines” section of the University Libraries’ Policy Statement for the Annex Storage Facilities, May 2008
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