Phase 2 of the Copac Collection Management Tools Project is now complete and this is the first of several posts reflecting on the results.
Apart from the Final Report, the following key outputs are now available on the website:
- Proposed Strategy to inform sustainability planning for a prospective service based on the Tools;
- Report on Retention and Preservation, summarising the work carried out by the Project in this area and considering how the Tools might provide a framework to support a distributed National Research Collection of Monographs;
- Synthesis of the Case Studies, bringing together the results from 10 separate case studies which looked in detail at how the Tools might support stock withdrawal, collection profiling and decision-making in conservation and digitisation;
- Detailed reports on 6 of the case studies, along with workflow documentation intended to help libraries that are new to using the Tools.
Speaking personally, my overriding impression from the Project is of the enthusiasm within the community for what the Copac Tools might offer. At our December workshop in Leeds, we had 35 participants from 24 different libraries. For many, this was their first opportunity to find out about the Tools, but there seemed to be no dissenting voices. They were able to identify with the scenarios presented by the Project partners and could see the relevance of the Tools to day-to-day operations within their own library. They understood how this could help with space management, improve decision-making and provide a powerful tool for advocacy work with their user community. They also shared similar strategic concerns about ensuring long-term access to print materials for the research community as a whole, and were strongly supportive of using the Tools to avoid the loss of “last copies” nationally.
This last point was picked up in the March workshop on retention and preservation – deliberately planned as a smaller and more focussed meeting with a balanced mix of individuals with relevant expertise. And again, a powerful consensus emerged. The UK is fortunate in having very rich print collections, but if they are to continue to remain accessible for use by future generations of researchers, then greater coordination is required: there was general agreement that we need to be working towards a distributed National Research Collection of Monographs. The Copac Tools provide an appropriate mechanism for libraries to share information about their holdings and indicate which titles or collections they are committed to retaining for the long term. Additional information about preservation status, access restrictions or digital surrogates might also be included, where feasible. The meeting participants also emphasised the importance of libraries feeling confident in the reliability of this data based on a common understanding of the phrase “long term retention”. So the backing of RLUK was seen as a key ingredient in building community agreement and participation.
Through these meetings, a consensus has emerged, based on a shared vision for the future management of our print collections. There is an eagerness to build a more sustainable future. The challenge now is to translate that into concrete actions and make it a reality.
So, on behalf of the Project Team, a big thank you to all who have been involved, in any way at all, in making it such a success.