Resource Sharing & Access

Note: This Best Practice uses the Good, Better, Best, Aspirational terminology

Access to materials and resource sharing is a critical part of any shared print program. Access for this best practice includes the ability to obtain and use information resources. Resource sharing is the lending or borrowing of materials through partnerships between organizations, consortia, libraries, etc. (e.g., interlibrary loan). Since resource sharing is an established practice internationally, shared print programs should follow documented best practices for their shared collections and workflows already established1. This best practice relates to resource sharing beyond the library’s shared print program. Both access and resource sharing within a shared print program should be defined in the MOU (see MOU Best Practice for those considerations).

Best Practice

Better
While resource sharing services may vary by program, in general:

  1. Materials should be in a condition that enables circulation. If the copy is no longer in a condition that supports resource sharing and access, follow the Best Practice for Transferring Commitments or Materials (being drafted). 
  2. Materials should be discoverable and available for use across shared print programs when possible. To encourage a true collective collection, shared print programs are strongly encouraged to provide lending to all libraries. This includes physical or digital loans of items and photocopies.  
  3. Resource sharing should enable access for users across North America. 
  4. When lending an item, a shared print program or retention library may set local restrictions on an item’s use within a borrowing library as needed for special collections, rare, and/or restricted access materials.
  5. Borrowing libraries are responsible for shared materials from the start of the transaction until the item is returned to the lending library. Borrowing libraries take responsibility for replacing lost or damaged materials in compliance with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ (IFLA) International Resource Sharing and Document Delivery: Principles and Guidelines for Procedure.

Best
Although access and resource sharing options vary by program, there are certain practices that if adopted would enable greater access to shared print items. These include: 

  • Resource sharing should enable access for users across the globe.
  • Libraries should share reciprocally so there are no fees associated with accessing them. 
  • Materials that are part of a shared print commitment circulate as openly as possible and have little to no restrictions locally or once lent. 
  • Libraries should make digital surrogates of public domain materials openly accessible.

Aspirational

  • Shared print programs facilitate access to digital surrogates readily available through the first sale doctrine2.
  • Shared print programs are strongly encouraged to invest in the development and implementation of discovery systems and/or resource sharing systems3 that support discovery and resource sharing for the collective collections.

Last Updated December 2020


  1. See International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ (IFLA) International Resource Sharing and Document Delivery: Principles and Guidelines for Procedure.
  2. First Sale Doctrine Wikipedia Page
  3. See Best Practices for Shared Metadata and Records