Collaborative Weeding Among Public University Libraries Can Lead to Cost Savings for All

Collaborative Weeding Among Public University Libraries Can Lead to Cost Savings for All

Helen N. Levenson (Oakland University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3914-8.ch067
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All academic libraries strive to have the highest quality collections which their acquisition budgets can support. However, the cost of quality resources continues to regularly increase, typically without corresponding increases in acquisition budgets. Additionally, print resources come with associated storage costs which are less tangible to measure than acquisition costs but which nonetheless have impact on overall library operations and expenditures. Storage and retention costs can have a substantial negative impact on general library usage, relevancy, and budget allocations. This chapter will focus on the management of retaining and weeding print monographs within the medium-sized public academic library and what a group of Michigan public academic libraries are doing to collectively address weeding and retention issues through the preliminary phase of a program called the Michigan Shared Print Initiative (MI-SPI).
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A group of public academic libraries in Michigan have embarked on a collaborative print monograph weeding and retention program called the Michigan Shared Print Initiative (MI-SPI). Due to the retention costs of print resources, the increasing need to use library spaces for other purposes than book storage, and the cost-efficiency of sharing resources within a consortium setting, these academic libraries have recognized the advantages in sharing print retention responsibilities among their collections. The MI-SPI program allows for libraries to identify and retain uniquely owned titles and reduce unnecessary duplication among the group. This is the essence of a collaborative weeding program. It allows for unique items or a small number of copies to be retained within a geographic area where resource sharing is facilitated within the consortium environment, while still allowing for the reduction in a surplus of copies.

MI-SPI is being coordinated by the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS), the Michigan-based library consortium which has a long history of providing consortia benefits to participating libraries in the state. The program is open to any Michigan state-supported academic library that is a member of the Michigan Council of Library Directors (COLD). Sustainable Collection Services (SCS) is the third party that provided the data sets, the analysis and tools with which to identify the commonly held but little-used print monographs owned by each participating library, and the comparison data among the groups’ holdings. This was an essential element of the project since it allowed for retention and withdrawal decisions to move forward. SCS has extensive experience in conducting this kind of data analysis for shared print projects similar to MI-SPI. SCS data allows libraries to analyze the usage of their print collections and their value comparative to other library holdings. SCS has provided data sets for other shared print management projects including those with the Maine consortium of libraries, a central Iowa collaborative academic library group, and groups of academic libraries in Indiana, Ontario, New York, Virginia, and Washington. This chapter outlines the MI-SPI program, its initial activity, the growth of the program, Oakland University (OU)’s participation in the project, some of the complications inherent in the program, and the future direction it has taken. The author will also analyze and review the OU Collection Summary provided by the SCS data sets to demonstrate its intrinsic value. This chapter will illustrate how the MI-SPI program, a data-driven deselection plan, provides the best means with which to participate in a collaborative print monograph weeding project. Through the analysis of Integrated Library System (ILS) generated data, MI-SPI offers a print monograph weeding program and a collection analysis program that provides accurate print collection usage data and sound criteria for weeding decisions. It is in accordance with the underlying principles of print monograph resource sharing.

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