Research Agenda

The Partnership’s goals in undertaking research:

  1. Support an evidence-based approach for decision-making and best practices for shared print and collective collection management.
  2. Support the collaboration among shared print monograph initiatives and collections in North America in providing cost-effective retention and access to shared print monograph collections.
  3. Support the preservation and long-term accessibility of print resources.
  4. Expand the collective of shared print programs and the value they provide.

Tier One Priorities – Those we will undertake first

Completion of the risk model for optimal number of copies
(supports goals 1,3)


As reported to the PAN Forum in June, 2020, a Working Group of the Partnership worked with Dr. Candace Yano of UC, Berkeley, to develop a risk model that is intended to answer the question “How many copies of a title need to be retained” by looking at the number of copies in different conditions and storage environments. (For more information on this model, see the presentation by Dr. Yano and Ian Bogus in slides 13-21 here.)  This model is close to being complete, and the Working Group is now looking at how paper degradation curves relate to ‘usability’ of the content. The end result is intended to be a tool that can help predict, given age and storage conditions, the likelihood that a usable copy will survive a given time horizon. This will provide shared print programs with recommendations on the number of copies to be retained based on specific time horizons and other variables.

What is the corpus of content we are looking to protect/preserve as part of Partnership programs?  What is not being retained (or potentially over retained)?
(supports goals 1,2,3,4)


It is difficult to know the ‘universe’ of print monographs and how best to expand shared print programs to further protect and preserve this universe. Acknowledging that there are unknown gaps in the corpus of works in systems such as OCLC WorldCat, Gold Rush and ExLibris, it seems feasible to at least start working with one or more of these vendors or a group of libraries to identify unretained or under retained materials. This unretained material could be looked at through various lenses, including institutions/libraries, geography, (global) publishers and DEI. 

There are also known gaps in titles retained by shared print programs based on types of materials that academic libraries are reluctant to commit to long term, e.g. reference, textbooks, computer manuals, and travel guides. Partnering with a group such as the Internet Archive to create collections of these materials may have merit.  The same is true of popular fiction, where there may be opportunities for collaboration with public libraries as well as with the Internet Archive.

Finally, some titles may already be over retained, particularly across shared print programs.  Further analysis of collection might allow a better balance.

Tier Two Priorities

May be dependent upon completion of the Tier One Priorities

What’s the ‘right’ period for retention commitments?
(supports goal 1)


Different programs have different goals and political needs in retaining materials, including needs to free up space across a group and a desire to preserve some segment of print materials for a defined period of time. In order to talk about the ‘right’ period for retention commitments we have to talk about what you are trying to achieve. However it may behoove programs to try to align retention periods between like programs, e.g. many programs have members belonging to more than one shared print initiative. Can an optimal end date be determined? What happens when an end period is reached?

Is this a best practice? Or is there research to be done here? 

With a growing emphasis on access, how does an individual library as well as a shared print program best identify candidates for digitization to further protect print and to expand access options?
(supports goal 1,3)


Possible criteria for determining what to digitize could include risk and gaps identified in tier 1 priorities. Use and condition may also be important considerations. Need to be able to identify what has already been digitized and what levels of access are available. 

It will be important to understand the current landscape and where digital materials are being retained, e.g. in local IRs, HathiTrust, Internet Archives, etc., what is considered a trusted digital repository and what levels of validation as well as access are possible. 

Once the digitization landscape is better documented, there may be opportunities to build on this to better understand the relationship between shared print and digital initiatives such as controlled digital lending (CDL) in support of further access to shared print content.

The relationship between shared print and special collections
(supports goal 1)


Most shared program programs initially assumed special collections (which are defined in many different ways in different institutions) are already protected, but are increasingly realizing this is not always the case. In addition, a title that may be in special collections in one library may well be in circulating collections in others.  As more libraries look to share special collections, what is their role in shared print? Can including them in shared print encourage libraries to provide more sharing?

To answer these questions, we need to better understand monograph holdings within special collections and which such materials are rare and not currently retained? Some level of collection analysis could support this understanding.  

Library spending between print and e monographs (trend lines) and implications for prioritizing prospective projects.
(supports goals 1,4); 


Look at the Ithaka data collected and determine if there are additional sources of data that could inform shared print programs as more and more content moves to e and more libraries move to e only or e preferred models.

Research Agenda Working Group:
Ian Bogus, ReCAP
Peggy Seiden, Swarthmore College
Susan Stearns, EAST
Alison Wohlers, CDL.

June, 2021