Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Withdrawing Print Titles

Ithaka has issued a new report entitled What to Withdraw? Print Collections Management in the Wake of Digitization. Its goal is to help libraries that want to recapture the space made available when digitized journals are discarded. To quote from the executive summary, "this report addresses two key questions: which types of print journals can libraries withdraw responsibly today, and how can that set of materials be expanded to allow libraries the maximum possible flexibility?" For journals with reliable digital access, retaining the print serves primarily a preservation function. There are other reasons for retaining print: "the need to fix scanning errors; insufficient reliabilty of the digital provider; inadequate preservation of the digitized versions; the presence of significant quantities of important non-textual material that may be poorly represented in digital form; and campus political considerations." The situation will be different in each library, but it is safe to say that "many of the rationales for retaining print are likely to decline over the course of time." The report concludes that most journals do not meet the criteria for withdrawal at this time, but that several strategies should be put in place to increase the number of journals that do:

First, organizations pursuing digitization projects should [be] more transparent about their standards and practices. Second, when digitization quality is low, it should be upgraded over the course of time. Finally, the library community should aggregate the work of exisiting mechanisms for print storage, de-duplication, and preservation, so that print repositories can more effectively contribute to a system-wide withdrawals strategy.

We have moved all but the last ten years of our periodicals to offsite storage (still on our campus, however) in order to free up shelf space in our main building. It was HeinOnline that enabled us to do this. HeinOnline is a reliable provider of high-quality digital access to periodicals, and thus addresses most of the concerns about retaining print set out above. Nonetheless, I have not yet made the decision to withdraw any periodicals permanently from the collection based on the availability of HeinOnline, but that day will probably come sooner rather than later. We are making decisions about which new law reviews to purchase based on their availability on HeinOnline, LexisNexis, and/or Westlaw. The cost is not our main concern, as academic law reviews are cheap; our main concern is space, which is a problem of long standing at our library.

No comments: