SPEC Kit 337: Print Retention Decision Making · 13
Across strategies, the responsibility for communicat-
ing libraries’ plans for including materials in local
shelving, remote shelving, or deaccessioning them
rests primarily with the collection development de-
partment. However, for decisions involving moving
materials to remote shelving or deaccessioning, it be-
comes more likely that library administration will take
on some responsibility for communication.
The most common communication strategy, re-
gardless of the action being proposed, is presenta-
tions to groups. Libraries’ websites are also commonly
used. Respondents reported using communication
strategies to reach external audiences to a much high-
er degree for moves to remote shelving than for deac-
cession initiatives.
Attitudes and Resistance
At first glance, it was surprising that 54% of the re-
spondents had experienced resistance to on-site shelv-
ing plans and 70% of the respondents reported resis-
tance to remote shelving plans, while the percentage
reporting resistance to deaccession plans was only
58%. While this is an area for further study, some po-
tentially likely scenarios are that materials selected
for deaccession may be in categories that do not raise
as many concerns for users. Examples of this could
be materials duplicated in print or electronic formats,
materials that are deemed damaged beyond repair,
or materials that are dated but with seemingly small
historical value.
Overall, 48 respondents reported some resistance
and 13 reported no resistance to decisions about print
material disposition. Of the libraries that reported
resistance, 15 experienced resistance to one strategy,
but not another. Respondents’ comments indicate that
initial concerns about print material strategies have
been alleviated over time by positive experiences with
the outcomes.
Collaborative Retention Agreement Strategy
For the purposes of this survey, a Collaborative
Retention Agreement was defined as a commitment
by one partner to retain a specific volume so that an-
other partner may deaccession or store their duplicate
copy. The focus of this question was on agreements
independent of shared shelving facility agreements.
The majority of respondents (40, or 66%) indicated
that their libraries participate in these arrangements.
They reported using a number of different agree-
ments, including major regional endeavors such
as the Western Regional Storage Trust (WEST) and
the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries
(ASERL) Collaborative Journal Retention Program.
Other respondents noted agreements that cover two
or three libraries or library systems, such as the col-
laborative agreement between the University of Iowa,
Iowa State University, and the University of Wisconsin.
It seems that there is a degree of redundancy among
agreements, which is logical given both the scale of
preservation that needs to occur and the varied nature
of these arrangements. This strategy is an area where
further evolution and development is expected. For ex-
ample, ASERL and the Washington Research Library
Consortium (WRLC) have recently agreed to share
their print journal archives under a new agreement
called Scholars Trust.
Striking the right balance of continued ownership, ac-
cess, and preservation of print materials is one of the
many challenges 21st Century research libraries face.
Off-site shelving, collaborative retention agreements,
and careful deaccession are the existing pragmatic
answers to the question, “Can research libraries sim-
ply keep adding print holdings forever?” This survey
confirms that these practices are now an entrenched
part of the work of libraries and also shows that, when
responsibly administrated, the libraries’ constituents
view these activities as acceptable. As libraries strate-
gically and creatively think about how to best provide
access to materials and serve their long term obliga-
tions to preserve content, this SPEC Kit provides a
snapshot of best practices as of 2013. Going forward,
the trajectory seems to be toward highly collaborative
and distributed ownership of legacy print materials.
Areas for continued monitoring include the evolution
of electronic and print archiving programs and the im-
pact that these changes will have on local or consortial
decisions regarding print retention plans.
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