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