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@Risk North in Ottawa

November 28, 2017
Parliament Hill Ottawa

cc Asif A. Ali, flickr

@Risk North was a further meeting of an initiative that the Center for Research Libraries kicked off a while back to address issues related to print preservation. I attended after reading the program and realizing that we can no longer talk about print preservation without including digital preservation and the myriad points of intersection in these two critical responsibilities of libraries.

Approaching the Long-Term Preservation of Print Documentation: A Current Overview of International Models, Challenges and Opportunities
Constance Malpas, OCLC

Walked through an analysis of print book collection density. A vast percentage of books reside in economic mega-regions. In Canada, there are five centres outside of those regions that have significant collections: Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, St. John’s, and Halifax.

Noted that there is a great deal of overlap between institutions, but also a lack of overlap, i.e. many titles that are only held in a small number of institutions. The more duplication you have, though, the easier it is to motivate libraries to participate in collaborative ventures because it facilitates space reclamation.

Scarcity is common in research collections; while scaled collaboration addresses that, it doesn’t always scale linearly because there is so much overlap between collections. Academic institutions are the de facto custodians of the scholarly record, i.e. this is where the books reside. Elements that drive this are shared bibliographic infrastructure, as these “reduce noise” in collections data. Trust relationships between institutions, including those that include mutual borrowing, are also an important element of making collaboration work.

Spoke a bit about European models, which as anyone familiar with that context would attest are far beyond what we have accomplished in North America. Many examples from many countries where national solutions have come to the fore.

She spoke about drivers of this work. One is shared bibliographic standards and platforms. Another facet is specializing further, i.e. “collecting more of less.” In other words, collaborative collection development as it has been long discussed and strategized. The third element was “explicit commitments,” or moving commitments beyond the institutional level. The last is reciprocal access: “create locally, share globally.”

@Risk and National Coordinated Efforts in Print Preservation in the United States
Bernard Reilly, Center for Research Libraries

Noted briefly the difference between a Memorandum of Understanding and a contract when it comes to shared print initiatives. He noted that some of these have a 25-year commitment time frame, and he asks which director can say that in 25 years their space will remain the same.

Showed graphics indicating how much of the serial record in the social sciences and humanities has been preserved. “It’s a modest start” as he noted.

Quoted Hazen who said our future is digital.

Speaking of shared collections, he quipped that if the shark isn’t swimming, it dies. These cannot be static collections but must be developed and maintained. Also noted that preservation and electronic access must merge; without digital delivery this doesn’t work going forward. We also need consensus on shared print storage. We need to develop an effective narrative to communicate what we are doing to scholars and funders.

National Heritage Collections: Perspectives on Mandated Collecting
Maureen Clapperton, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec

Quebec’s national library collects in their Laurentiana collection publications about Quebec from the rest of the world, as well as other materials related to Quebec. They have a legal deposit requirement, but also receive materials through voluntary deposit and donations as well as purchase materials.

They accept everything received via legal deposit, and these materials never leave the collection.

Monica Fuijkschot, Library and Archives Canada

LAC commits to holding last copies of Canadiana. She outlined their other principles, which relate to description, storage, lending, perpetuity, and transfer (of deaccessioned materials to other institutions). They will lend their materials, but only in instances when they are the only possible source.

The Last Copies Initiative arose in the broader library community. The National Union Catalogue they maintain currently has 30 million records in it and is migrating to an OCLC platform over the next two years, with release this January of the public catalogue.

Current Canadian Initiatives in Collective Print Preservation
Scott Gillies, TUG Libraries; Doug Brigham, COPPUL; Caitlin Tillman & Steve Marks, Keep@Downsview; Alan Darnell, Scholars Portal

Gillies and Brigham described their existing shared print activities in TUG and COPPUL, respectively. TUG is of course well established, while COPPUL SPAN (Shared Print Archive Network) started in 2012. SPAN’s first focus was low-risk print journals, i.e. digital equivalents with post-cancellation access rights. In their second phase, they began to focus on other journals, including some Canadian journals, as well as some without post-cancellation access rights. In the third phase, they looked at earlier and later titles from their second phase, some of which were at high risk (379 titles). Now, in their fourth phase, they are looking at serials and monographs from Statistics Canada, ongoing. In each phase, archive holders agree to hold the title until a specified date.

Keep@Downsview started as a conversation between the provosts at Queen’s and U of Toronto. Keep expands the scope of shared collections by adding humanities and social science content, since other projects often emphasize STEM serials. Lesson learned: matching metadata between institutions is really hard. How to remedy that: share metadata better between institutions. Marks noted that by linking print and digital preservation practices we help mitigate myriad risks and we also open up the doors to other opportunities: better discovery, better accessibility, other scholarly uses, etc. Not least, these benefits might get people enthused about putting materials into shared preservation facilities.

Darnell argued initially that format silos (print vs. electronic) have created preservation silos, i.e. separate activities.


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