Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs)

The creation of a Memorandum of Understanding among a shared print program’s partner libraries is integral to establishing and reinforcing the libraries’ commitment to the program and each other. It allows for the development of trust and shared understanding of policies and practices.

Best Practice

This best practice recommends elements that should be included in any shared print program memorandum of understanding (MOU) and points to additional resources that provide more detailed guidance and examples for the creation of MOUs.

Recommended Elements of an MOU 1

  1. Program description, including vision, goals, and scope of the shared print program
  2. Eligibility and participant member types
  3. Method of entry and withdrawal of participating organizations
  4. Description of governance and operations model
  5. Description of the business model and financial obligations
  6. Method by which retained materials will be selected, identified, validated, and stored
  7. Duration of retention commitments
  8. Definition of ownership and requirements for preservation and maintenance of retained materials
  9. Method by which retained materials may be transferred among partner libraries or withdrawn
  10. Method by which access to retained materials will be provided
  11. Any other responsibilities of participating organizations
  12. Process through which the shared print program could be dissolved
  13. Method by which the MOU may be amended and/or reviewed

Relationship of MOU to Other Documents

A shared print program will likely have a number of separate policy and procedure documents that build upon the foundation laid in the MOU. Therefore, the MOU should provide enough information to guide further development of the program but should not contain detailed policies and procedures. This, in fact, could impede the approval process within individual organizations where MOUs must be reviewed by legal counsel. Additionally, such detailed policies and procedures will likely need to be adjusted over time due to changes in factors such as digitization technology, metadata standards, and resource sharing practices, none of which should necessarily require revisiting the agreement as a whole.

Examples of Existing MOUs

1. These elements are largely drawn from Revitt, Matthew. 2014. Shared Print Agreements for Monographs: A User’s Manual. Library Staff Publications. 22. https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/lib_staffpub/22.