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Tuesday, 29th September 2009

New Report: What to Withdraw: Print Collections Management in the Wake of Digitization

This new report comes from ITHAKA's strategy/research arm, ITHAKA S+R.

Access the Complete Report: What to Withdraw: Print Collections Management in the Wake of Digitization (28 pages; PDF).

The report was written by Roger C. Schonfeld (Manager of Research) & Ross Housewright (Analyst).

Access the Summary Page With Links to Register for Report Updates

From the News Release:

[The report] analyzes which types of journals can be withdrawn responsibly today and how that set of materials can be expanded to allow libraries the maximum possible flexibility and savings in the future.

“Determining the value of retaining print after its digitization requires a system-wide analysis of the needs of all libraries and their users collectively, rather than focusing only on a region, a system, or a consortium,” stated Roger Schonfeld, Manager of Research at Ithaka S+R and co-author of this report. “Our analysis indicates that libraries today can safely de-accession certain print holdings that are adequately preserved in digital and print form elsewhere.”

Analyzing the rationales for retaining and preserving scholarly journals in print format, the report proposes minimum time periods for which some system-wide access to print versions is required. Then, based on a study commissioned by Ithaka S+R and conducted by Candace Yano, a professor of industrial engineering and operations research and in the Haas School of Business at UC Berkley, the report proposes the minimum number of print copies that are required today depending on their condition.

More After the Jump

Based on this analysis, the report concludes that certain print journal backfile sets are well enough digitized and contain few enough images that there is likely to be virtually no demand for them by users, and are sufficiently well preserved digitally and in print repositories that libraries can responsibly withdraw their own print holdings.

At the same time, the report warns that other print materials may not yet be ready for broad withdrawal without raising risks unduly. For these materials, a number of strategies are recommended for allowing libraries increased flexibility in the future. First, organizations responsible for digitization programs should provide more transparency on the quality of their digitization work and should participate in an ongoing effort to upgrade the quality of the scans. In addition, libraries should deepen existing collaborations around print preservation, perhaps bringing in publishers and other digitizers as partners in this effort.

“Libraries are right to push aggressively into the digital future but should do so with an awareness about risk and tradeoffs,” stated Ross Housewright, analyst and co-author. “There is an opportunity before us to make a system-wide impact on print collection management, but in order to do so libraries and digitizers need to commit to collaboration at a level unseen today.”

Other ITHAKA S+R Reports in this Space

The Nonsubscription Side of Periodicals: Changes in Library Operations and Costs between Print and Electronic Formats (Council on Library and Information Resources, 2004)

and coming soon:

Ithaka S+R is currently completing a project commissioned by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) to develop a future vision for the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP), through which government publications are distributed to 1,300 libraries around the country and made accessible to the public. Ithaka S+R’s report will analyze how the FDLP can retain its relevance through the transition to an electronic environment, a critical concern today as the Obama Administration promotes a more open and transparent government.

Source: ITHAKA S+R


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