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Reshaping the Research Library: Some Observations on the Future of Academic Collections


Presentation from Future of the Research Library lecture series at University of Maryland, College Park. (2011-04-28)

Presentation from Future of the Research Library lecture series at University of Maryland, College Park. (2011-04-28)

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  • In Maryland, we are glad to count both College Park and the Johns Hopkins University as partners.
  • This is a model we have used to frame some discussions about library collections and operations in the past. The horizontal axis is a measure of the stewardship or curation efforts that have traditionally been needed to manage these materials in libraries. The vertical axis is a measure of how widely held the materials are in the library system: at the top are resources that are abundant in the library community, at the bottom are materials that relatively rare.In the upper left quadrant are the materials that libraries traditionally purchased and increasingly are leasing. Below that are special collections, rare books and manuscripts. The bottom right includes research outputs and teaching materials. The upper right includes a wide variety of resources found on the Open Web – web sites, discussion lists, blogs etc.Libraries may be interested in all of these areas, but not equally. Traditionally, library acquisitions and operations have focused on the upper left quadrant: published materials in print. Licensed resources were a secondary focus. And, except for research and academic libraries, there was limited attention to managing rare books and manuscripts, instructional course materials, or Web archiving.materials, which are now more ubiquitous and also require less local management effort.
  • Increasingly, [click] we have seen this attention shift to licensed electronic materials, which are now more ubiquitous and also require less local management effort. Note that Maryland is somewhat unusual in its dedication (with Columbia University) to web archiving. Recall Carlen Ruschoff and Bob Wolven presentation at CNI – how to integrate metadata practices for born digital in cataloging workflows.Re: Intentional – UMD has digitized historical course catalogs with IA (also digitizing trade union publications. Has digitized 2500+ vols with IA) – nbPrinceon also digitized this content with Google and it is now included in Hathi. But it appears that Maryland’s collection (in IA) is more complete
  • There are a number of important changes in the academic library environment that we should be paying attention to. First, the shift to reliance on externally sourced, licensed content is accelerating – this is no longer just about e-journals but e-books as well.Secondly, print collections aren’t delivering the value they once did. There is increasing attention to the long term cost burden of acquiring and retaining low-use print books locally.Finally, special collections are not universally perceived to be a key part of the library’s service mission in higher education. They may contain a few items regarded as treasures by the university, but the acquisition of rare books and manuscripts is rarely viewed, or funded, as a core library function.
  • There are three main drivers I want to call out here, though one could certainly point to others. First, there is general agreement that the traditional library value proposition -- acquiring and amassing a comprehensive or substantially representative physical corpus of material for local use – is no longer perceived to be relevant.Second, the nature of the scholarly record has changed and is no longer adequately captured in traditional print and licensed collections. There is increased attention to the need for managing ‘upstream’ research outputs and traditional print operations are viewed as something of a distraction from this.Finally and most importantly for the purposes of our discussion to day is the impact of mass digitisation on the discoverability of and perceived ‘location’ of library collections. Digitized books are no longer regarded as the property of individual libraries but instead considered part of the network.
  • This work is already underway at the University of Maryland
  • Externalizing low-value operations is one way to enable a redirection of library attention and resources.
  • Very impressed by annual reports and tight integration of library strat plan in larger institutional plan.2500 volumes already digitized with the Internet Archive; anticipating 200K more through Google librayr partnership
  • A scary picture? Academic libraries are increasing pressure to do more with less.Trend toward diminished support for academic libraries is not a new phenomenon and it is not merely a knock-on effect of regional or institutional economic pressures. It is a reflection of much broader changes in the higher education environment, including funding mandates that create incentives for increased institutional attention to science and engineering, a decline in the number of students pursuing advanced degrees in the humanities, and new models of educational provisioning -- including distance learning – that are no longer reliant on locally-sourced collections or infrastructure.
  • In the US, the last five years have been marked by significant growth in for-profit education market, dominated by online universities. These institutions are not reliant on traditional physical infrastructure of the library. Their success is forcing traditional HE institutions to compete for students and to revitalize their institutional reputations. The core library operations associated with print based collections do not have much relevance here.
  • Over the same 3 decade period, we’ve seen US academic library spending grow steadily, from just over a billion dollars in the mid ‘70s to about $7 bn in 2008. This is not a reflection of growing library infrastructure – or “new library starts” – since as you can see the total number of academic libraries has remained relatively stable.
  • In the US, a majority of research libraries are already spending more than half of the library materials budget on licensed resources. Print is no longer at the center.
  • In fact, more and more of it is at the periphery.In the past 25 years, massive growth in off-site library storage infrastructure in the US.‘low use only’ for OSS since 2001
  • So why is so much of the print inventory at major research institutions managed off-site? Why does a work as important and useful as Religion and the Decline of Magic live ‘outside the building’? It’s not a matter of space pressures in academic libraries – as we so often say – but of priorities.
  • I want to turn now to the issue of shared infrastructure. Specifically, the emergence of the HathiTrust, a shared digital repository developed within the CIC. This isn’t the only example of cooperatively sourced infrastructure in the higher education environment – one could point to open source platforms like SAKAI, or e-prints – but I believe it will be one of the most important for academic libraries. Over the past year, OCLC Research has studied the rising rate of duplication between titles held in the shared HathiTrust digital repository and in the academic print book collection.This scatter chart provide a simple but effective visualization of an important pattern that this project has revealed: that is, that the risks and opportunities associated with moving collection management ‘into the cloud’ are uniformly distributed across the research library community as a whole. [CLICK] This is a picture of the ARL membership (a microcosm of the larger research library community) that shows the level of duplication between individual library collections and the mass digitized book collection in Hathi. Over the course of this project, we have seen the rate of duplication between locally held print and mass digitized books increase steadily and significantly. In June 2009 an average of 20% of print titles in an academic library were duplicated in the Hathi repository; today that figure is above 30% (up to 40% for some institutions). [CLICK] In real terms, this means that rate of digital replication is exceeding the pace of growth in print acquisitions in most academic institutions. We estimate that the rate of duplication has increased by about 8% per library in the past year. Print acquisitions typically grow at about 2% per year in research libraries.[CLICK] We project that in a year’s time, many academic libraries are liable to find themselves “underwater,” holding a massive inventory of over-valued assets.Library directors will be called to account and expected to respond to questions about how an increasingly redundant local print collection is serving the educational and research mission of theparent institution. We need to be preparing for a world in which just-in-time, print on demand delivery is an option for a large share of the retrospective book collection.
  • Another major finding of our study is that the mass digitized book corpus is substantially ‘backed up’ in one or more large-scale storage collections. As I mentioned earlier, we have a very incomplete picture of what’s currently in storage, so this figure may actually be quite a bit higher. The figures here are based on just 5 major repositories The important point is that we seem to have the beginnings of what I characterized earlier as a ‘strategic reserve’ of print that could significantly offset the costs of local operations. As you can see here, the proportion has remained relatively stable over the course the past year. As of this month, about 2.5 million of the 3.5 million digitized books in Hathi are also held in one or more of 5 large scale shared print repositories.
  • With that as background, I’d like to offer a prediction about the future of shared print, and that’s our attention will begin to shift to pooled management of the retrospective print book collection. With this shift, I think we will see the emergence of a relatively small number of larger service hubs providing just-in-time delivery and longterm preservation services on a subscription basis. Individual academic libraries will contract with those service providers because they offer a cost efficient alternative to local operations and more importantly because they allow the library to redirect its attention and resources to renovating its service portfolio. As a result, I think we will see a progressive rationalization of the systemwide print book collection.I believe mass digitization of retrospective print collections will be a primary driver in this transition, preceding a broader shift to commercial provisioning of e-books.
  • This is where the rubber meets the road. I mentioned that there has been increased attention to the long-term costs of acquiring and retaining low-use print materials. This is especially true for retrospective print collections that have been digitized. On recent study by the Dean of Libraries at the University of Michigan suggests that it costs about $4.25 per volume per year to store a book on campus, and less than a third as much to manage it off-site. This means that the University of Minnesota is currently spending between $1M and $5 million dollars each year to retain copies of books that are preserved in the HathiTrust repository. Which the U is also paying for. The library is not accountable for these costs – they are not charged to the library budget – but is in some sense responsible for them.
  • More than 300 holdings in WorldCatMultiple copies in group University System of Maryland catalog; 3 copies at College Park alone. One in OSS (offsite).
  • Online courses to expand revenue base Cost-cutting measures: flat salaries, scrutiny of cost centers
  • non-profit distance learning provider with a strong market in continuing ed for military servicepeople
  • As we look to the future, it is clear that the academic library environment as a whole is changing. Here I have plotted projections for the duplication of academic print collections in the HathiTrust Digital Library for a range of academic libraries in the state of Minnesota. The blue and green lines at the top of the stack represent smaller academic institutions . We predict that 50% of their library holdings will be duplicated within the coming year. At research intensive institutions, that watershed moment will occur somewhat later. At top tier institutions like the University of Minnesota, it may take another year or two before redundant print inventory begins to look less like an asset and more like a liability. But this change is coming, and we need to plan for it.


  • 1. Reshaping the Research Library:  Some Observations on the Future of Academic Collections
    Constance Malpas
    Program Officer, OCLC Research
    University of Maryland
    28 April 2011
  • 2. Roadmap
    [OCLC Research]
    A framework for academic collections
    Some remarks on libraries & the higher education landscape
    Emerging infrastructure and its impact on the organization of academic libraries
    University of Maryland libraries in a system-wide context
  • 3. OCLC Research: what we do
    Supports global cooperative by providing internal data and process analysestoinform enterprise service development (R&D) and deploying collective research capacity to deepen public understanding of the evolving library system
    Special focus on libraries in research institutions:
    in US, libraries supporting doctoral-level education account for <20% of academic libraries;>70% of library spending
    changes in this sector impact library system as a whole; collective preservation and access goals, shared infrastructure, &c.
  • 4. OCLC Research: who we are
    ~45 FTE with offices in Ohio, California and (soon) Leiden
    Sponsored by OCLC and a partnership of research libraries around the world that share:
    A strong motivation to effect system-wide change
    A commitment to collaboration as a means of achieving collective gains
    A desire to engage internationally
    Senior management ready to provide leadership within the transnational research library community
    Deep and rich collections and a mandate to make them accessible
    The capacity and the will to contribute
  • 5. OCLC Research: current portfolios
  • 6. System-wide organization
    Research theme addresses “big picture” questions about the future of libraries in the network environment; implications for collections, services, institutions embedded in complex networks of collaboration, cooperation and exchange
    • Characterization of the aggregate library resource
    Collections, services, user behaviors, institutional profiles
    • Re-organization of individual libraries in network context
    Institutions adapting to changes in system-wide organization
    • Re-organization of the library system in network context
    “Multi-institutional” library framework, collective adaptation
  • 7. Collections Grid
    In many collections
    Purchased materials
    Licensed E-Resources
    Open Web Resources
    Low Stewardship
    High Stewardship
    Research & Learning Materials
    Special Collections
    Local Digitization
    In few collections
    Credit: Dempsey, Childress (OCLC Research. 2003)
  • 8. Library attention and investment are shifting
    In many collections
    Less attention
    High attention
    Low Stewardship
    High Stewardship
    In few collections
    OCLC Research, 2010.
  • 9. Academic institutions are driving this change
    In Many Collections
    Redirection of library resource
    Low Stewardship
    High Stewardship
    +5 yrs
    In Few Collections
    OCLC Research, 2010.
  • 10. Change in Academic Collections
    • Shift to licensed electronic content is accelerating
    Research journals – a well established trend
    Scholarly monographs – in progress
    • Print collections delivering less (and less) value at great (and growing) cost
    Est. $4.25 US per volume per year for on-site collections
    Library purchasing power decreasing as per-unit cost rises
    • Special collections marginal to educational mandate at many institutions
    Costly to manage, not (always) integral to teaching, learning
  • 11. An Equal and Opposite Reaction
    As an increasing share of library spending is directed toward licensed content . . .
    Pressure on print management costs increases
    Fewer institutions to uphold preservation mandate
    Stewardship roles must be reassessed
    Shared service requirements will change
  • 12. Erosion of library value proposition in academic sector
    institutional reputation no longer determined (or even substantially influenced) by scope, scale of local print collection
    Changing nature of scholarly record
    research, teaching and learning embedded in larger social and technological networks; new set of curation challenges
    Format transition; mass digitization of legacy print
    Web-scale discoverability has fundamentally changed research practices; local collections no longer the center of attention
    What factors are driving this change?
  • 13. A critical question
    What operational changes will enable significant redirection of library resource from acquisition and inventory management
    Bringing the ‘outside in’
    Toward more effective disclosure, discovery and (re)use of locally distinctive teaching/learning assets
    Moving the ‘inside out’
    A renovation of the library service portfolio that supports more direct engagement with the research, teaching and learning mission of the university
  • 14. Core library operations
    are moving “outside”
    institutional boundaries
    cooperative cataloging
    ILL, resource sharing
    approval plans
    digital preservation
    . . . print management
    As transaction costs fall, so do boundaries
    creating room for more
    distinctive library services
  • 15. Boundary work at the University of Maryland
    Cooperative sourcing for ‘core business’ operations:
    Consolidation of cataloging operations into metadata services; exploring cooperative collections storage with regional partners; HathiTrust; Kuali OLE; WorldCatUM … OCLC RLP
    From infrastructure to customer relationship management:
    Terrapin Learning Commons provides space and services adapted to today’s student expectations; explicit commitment to aligning library strategic plan to institutional priorities; cultivating and projecting powerful student faculty connections to the library
    A new emphasis on innovation and moving ‘into the flow’:
    Maximizing integration of library collections and services into course-management; increasing digitization and web-scale presence, repositioning institutional repository to emphasize relevance to scholarly work
  • 16. A long-term, system-wide trend
    OCLC Research. Derived from data reported in NCES Digest of Education Statistics: 2008.
  • 17. Shift in provision of higher education
    Distribution of Post-Secondary Educational Institutions
    in the United States by Source of Funding
    Limited reliance on library infrastructure
    OCLC Research. Derived from data reported in NCES Digest of Education Statistics: 2008.
  • 18. A limited population, growing economic pressure
    Increasing expense, decreasing purchasing power
    OCLC Research. Derived from data reported in NCES Digest of Education Statistics: 2008.
  • 19. In US research libraries, a tipping point …
    Majority of research libraries shifting toward
    e-centric acquisitions, service model
    Center of gravity
    >75% in 2009-2010
    Shrinking pool of libraries with mission and resources
    to sustain print preservation as a ‘core’ operation
    OCLC Research. Derived from ARL Annual Statistics, 2007-2008
  • 20. … the books have left the building
    In North America, +70M volumes off-site (2007)
    ~30-50% of print inventory at many major universities
    xx Vols. Off-site at UMCP?
    Growth in library storage infrastructure
    Derived from L. Payne (OCLC, 2007)
  • 21. It’s not about space, but priorities
    • If the physical proximity of print collections had a demonstrable impact on researcher productivity, nouniversity would hesitate to allocate prime real estate to library stacks
    • 22. In a world where print was the primary medium of scholarly communication, a large local inventory was a hallmark of academic reputation
    We no longer live in that world.
  • 23. Cloud-sourcing Research Collections (2009/10)
    Case study in de-composition of library service bundle: externalization of print repository functions
    Data-mining Hathi and WorldCat to determine where cost-effective reductions in print inventory can be achieved for individual libraries(micro-economic context)
    Characterizing optimal service profile for shared print/digital service providers; collective market for service (macro-economic context)
    Exploring social and economic infrastructure requirements; technical infrastructure a separate, secondary challenge
  • 24. A global change in the library environment
    Academic print book collection already substantially duplicated in mass-digitized book corpus
    June 2010
    Median duplication: 31%
    June 2009
    Median duplication: 19%
    OCLC Research. Analysis based on HathiTrust and WorldCat snapshot data, Jun 2009 – Jun 2010.
  • 25. Mass-digitized books in print repositories
    ~3.5M titles
    ~75% of mass digitized corpus is ‘backed up’ in one or more shared print repositories
    OCLC Research. Analysis based on HathiTrust and WorldCat snapshot data, Jun 2009 – Jun 2010.
  • 26. Prediction
    Within the next 5-10 years, focus of shared print archiving
    and service provision will shift to monographic collections
    • large scale service hubs will provide low-cost print management on a subscription basis;
    • 27. reducing local expenditureon print operations, releasing space for new uses and facilitating a redirection of library resources;
    • 28. enabling rationalization of aggregate print collection and renovation of library service portfolio
    Mass digitization of retrospective print collections will drive this transition
  • 29. A third of titles held in UMCP Libraries are duplicated in the HathiTrust Digital Library
    ~2.5 million University of Maryland, College Park (UMC) holdings in WorldCat
    94,421 titles
    683,868 titles
    ~778K (31%) duplicated in HathiTrust Digital Library
  • 30. Subject distribution of UMCP-owned titles duplicated in HathiTrust Digital Library
    Represents approximately
    9 miles of library shelf space
    1 mile if restricted to public domain
    N = 778,289 titles
    OCLC Research. Analysis based on HathiTrust and WorldCat snapshots. Data current as of April 2011.
  • 31. Stewardship and sustainability: a pragmatic view
    Using recent life-cycle adjusted cost model* for library print collections,
    $4.25 per volume per year --- on campus
    $ .86 per volume per year -– in high-density storage
    the University of Maryland is spending between
    [778,289 titles * $.86 =] $670K to $3.3M [=778,289 titles * $4.25 ] annually
    to retain local copies of content preserved in the HathiTrust Digital Library
    The library is not financially accountable for these costs
    but it is responsible for managing them
    *Paul Courant and M. “Buzzy” Nielson, “On the Cost of Keeping a Book” in The Idea of Order (CLIR, 2010)
  • 32. System-wide print distribution of UMCP titles duplicated in HathiTrust Digital Library
    Market for shared print provision increases
    Value of Hathi preservation increases
    N = 778,289 titles
    OCLC Research. Analysis based on HathiTrust and WorldCat snapshot data. Data current as of April 2011.
  • 33. Time for a game!
    If you had to guess what percentage of titles in the UMCP library collection were unique, would you say…
    A) 10% or more
    B) 5-10%
    C) Fewer than 5%
  • 34. ~90K uniquely held titles
    The ‘big reveal’
  • 35. How HathiTrust adds value at UMCP
    UMCP holdings [eventually] contributed to HathiTrust
    • Increased visibility, accessibility
    • 36. Shared investment in repository infrastructure
    HathiTrust content not held by UMCP
    • Extends local collection at reduced cost
    UMCP-owned content duplicated in Hathi
    • Redirection of local print management
    • 37. Reduces costs as inventory is rationalized
    • 38. Supports reconfiguration of library space & service portfolio
  • 1) UMCP (potential) contribution to HathiTrust
    This title held by 5 libraries
    UMCP collections deliver more value in web-scale environment
    Incomplete run contributed by Princeton University, cf. UMCP digitized volumes in Internet Archive include 1860, 1863-1864, 1870-1871 etc.
  • 39. 2) Public domain content not held by UMCP
    This edition held by 17 libraries
    [None within Maryland]
    Source via ILL @ ~$20 / transaction?
    Or offer free download?
    As the library works to align collections with waxing and waning curricular interests, just-in-time fulfillment may become the norm
  • 40. 3) UMCP-owned title duplicated in HathiTrust
    334 WorldCat holdings on this edition
    Increased discoverability & access
    Reduce wear & tear on local copy
    Opportunity to de-duplicate?
  • 41. It all adds up: ROI for shared infrastructure
    Content UMCP can now
    manage more efficiently
    Content UMCP can now
    source at lower cost
    OCLC Research. Analysis based on HathiTrust and WorldCat snapshot data. Data current as of April 2011
  • 42. As private institutions look to ‘tuition discounting’ to maintain undergraduate enrollment:
    … increased scrutiny of direct costs of traditional infrastructure including the library
    … increased reliance (tacit or explicit) on infrastructure provided by larger institutions
    While publicly funded universities struggle to maintain level funding and enrollments
    2010-2011 tuition @
    McDaniel = $33,280 [$19,170]
    UMD = $ 4,208/$12,415
    In this context the true cost of library infrastructure really matters!
  • 43. Entrepreneurial opportunities?
    University of Michigan, University of Minnesota have partnerships with Walden
    University of Alabama, Huntsville has a partnership with Kaplan
  • 44. The next few years are critical
    Academic libraries in Maryland: a common trajectory, different timelines
    Jan ‘12
    Mar ‘13
    Sep ‘13
    OCLC Research. Analysis based on HathiTrust and WorldCat snapshot data. Data current as of April 2011
  • 45. Local print management comes at a high cost
    How can UMCP leverage shared infrastructure to reduce local expenditure on legacy collections?
    Integrate HathiTrust in local discovery environment
    Maximize shift to local/shared off-site; full-text search
    Consider withdrawal where print can be sourced from regional collection
    And acquisitions?
    Public domain content can extend local holdings
    Selector expertise can be deployed to create disciplinary collections
  • 46. UMCP as Shared Print supplier?
    ~ 247K McDaniel College (WTY) Library holdings in WorldCat
    Represents ~1 mile of shelving at McDaniel
    ~ 100K (41%) duplicated in HathiTrust Digital Library
    OCLC Research. Analysis based on HathiTrust and WorldCat snapshots. Data current as of April 2011.
  • 47. UMCP as Shared Print client?
    ~2.5 million University of Maryland, College Park (UMC) holdings in WorldCat
    94,421 titles
    Represents ~4 miles of shelving at UMCP
    683,868 titles
    ~778K (31%) duplicated in HathiTrust Digital Library
    OCLC Research. Analysis based on HathiTrust and WorldCat snapshots. Data current as of April 2011.
  • 48. A vision of the future
    University of Maryland College Park will . . .
    fulfill its preservation mandate by partnering with regional and national partners to ensure sustainable stewardship of shared print and digital repositories
    provide faculty, students and citizens of Maryland with access to an increasingly broad array of legacy and current content by sourcing content by the most efficient means
    enhance the University’s teaching and research reputation by supporting the process of scholarship, increasing the visibility and impact of locally created content
  • 49. Academic print: it’s not the end . . .
    but it’s no longer the means
    Ongoing redefinition of scholarly
    function and value of print
    will entail some loss
    and some gain in library relevance
    “Archive of the available past” photograph by Joguldi.
    Abandoned books at the Detroit Central
    School Book Depository (6 May 2009) Flickr
  • 50. Thanks for your attention.
    Comments, Questions?
    Constance Malpas