In May 2022 the RLUK Board of Directors endorsed a vision for a UK Distributed Print Book Collection as part of the RLUK Library Transforming Strategy of which ‘Collective Collections’ is one of the five key strands.  It is envisaged that this shared print collection will extend beyond RLUK libraries, with SCONUL, national libraries, special libraries and Jisc all playing a role. This model will help to ensure preservation of and access to shared print holdings in UK and Ireland (subject to consultation with RLUK members in Ireland) for current and future users.

The endorsed recommendations to support this vision are set out below. RLUK recognises that these recommendations build on developments in collaborative collection management in relation to printed monographs over the past decade.

Recommendations from RLUK’s Collections Strategy Network (CSN)

  1. RLUK should endorse this vision and ask CSN to lead on developing the detail as outlined below.
  2. RLUK should promote a national approach to the collective retention of print monographs in order to ensure ongoing preservation of and access to print monographs, whilst enabling libraries to free space occupied by print collections.
  3. This collective approach should inform a shared collection, with an agreed minimum number of copies distributed across the UK in the first instance.  This would not preclude any centralised or shared storage being developed in the future.  The advantage of a distributed approach is that it allows for action to be taken in the short term to safeguard printed monographs whilst enabling libraries to reduce their collections in a responsible way.
  4. RLUK should facilitate discussions with Jisc on the role of the National Bibliographic KnowledgeBase (NBK) in a national distributed collection.  The RLUK-CSN sees the NBK as a key piece of infrastructure, as it holds the records for collections across the UK, with the potential to deliver on the following:
    • Management of retention statements associated with records from contributing libraries (already in place).
    • Analysis of collective holdings and provision of reports to the community (RLUK and beyond) on national data, e.g. identification of at-risk items
    • Linking to digitised copies of items to facilitate access in the context of a virtual shared collection.
  5. RLUK should facilitate discussions with SCONUL, British Library, national libraries, SCURL and WHELF to share these recommendations and seek support.
  6. Libraries contributing to the NBK should be encouraged to upload retention statements where there is clarity on the institution’s desire to retain particular items.
  7. RLUK-CSN should develop further recommendations on thresholds and processes for retention. Key considerations here will be:
    • Establish requirements for both preservation and access
    • Minimise any administrative burden
    • Establish the role of the national and copyright libraries
    • Explore the availability of digital surrogates
    • Maximise the value of the shared national collection

UK Distributed Print Book Collection (UKDPBC) – Update February 2023

UKDPBC is envisaged as a national distributed collection of print monographs with RLUK, SCONUL, national libraries, special libraries and Jisc all playing a role.  This approach will ensure preservation of, and access to, shared print holdings in the UK for current and future users.

Activities to date

  • Data has been provided by Jisc showing the distribution of holdings for print books where there are fewer than 10 copies held by libraries whose data is in the National Bibliographic Knowledge Base (which underpins the Jisc Library Hub).
  • Discussions are underway with Jisc to fully understand the data. There has been no consultation as yet on setting the national threshold for print book retention. Data modeling so far suggests that, for example, were it agreed that nationally 10 copies of print monographs should be retained then RLUK libraries would be asked to retain between 27% and 57% of their holdings (excluding the legal deposit, LSE and SOAS libraries), with most being asked to retain between 30% to 50%. However, consultation is yet to take place on setting the national threshold for print book retention.
  • Further examination of the data is planned to understand the impact on non-RLUK SCONUL libraries of any agreement to retain print monographs.
  • The RLUK-CSN Print Storage Group has met with the chairs of the SCONUL Content Group and Ann Rossiter to discuss the UKDPBC and a follow up focus group with SCONUL member libraries was held in January 2023. The UKDPBC was also discussed in one of the break-out sessions at the SCONUL Future Ready Libraries Conference in January 2023. SCONUL are keen to have further discussions on the UKDPBC to understand the benefits and the impact for all members.
  • The RLUK-CSN Print Storage Group has met with the British Library to discuss the UKDPBC. The British Library are supportive and keen to keep abreast of developments.

Activities planned

  • Further analysis of the data supplied by Jisc is being undertaken, including in relation to SCONUL libraries.
  • This analysis will inform consultation with the sector on guidelines for the operation of the UKDPBC.
  • A full update on and discussion of next steps in relation to the UKDPBC will take place at the next RLUK-CSN meeting (tbc, likely end of March or April).
  • Further engagement with SCONUL libraries will be discussed with Ann Rossiter.
  • Regular updates will be provided to the British Library.

RLUK CSN Print Storage Group
13 February 2023