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Notes from “Next Steps in Shared Collection Management”

November 10, 2021
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Photo by Mary Taylor from  Pexels

Last week, I had the great pleasure to moderate a panel at the 2021 Charleston Conference as a part of my work with the Partnership for Shared Book Collections. I led three speakers, Linda Wobbe, Heather McQueen, and Boaz Nadav Manes, in conversation about shared print and resource sharing. We discussed what we thought the role of shared print in resource sharing initiatives might look like, what challenges we will probably come up against, and identified ways for resource sharing librarians and staff to participate in the development of shared print in resource sharing programs.

We talked a lot about the digital side of shared print, and how many unknowns there still are. Controlled digital lending (CDL) is still in development and largely decentralized, but it was agreed upon that CDL is the future. Automated lending was also discussed, since so much of interlibrary loan is automated already. Challenges include ensuring complete metadata and the discoverability of retention commitments, the emerging issues surrounding lending digital materials (licensing, policies, and copyright for example), the lack of collection statistics beyond one’s home institution, and the need for interoperability between platforms and vendors. For shared print programs to succeed in resource sharing, we need to think more large-scale–more globally (this was also a theme of one of the keynotes, Paul Saffo’s “How to Think Like a Civilization”).

We also highlighted the importance of including resource sharing practitioners in these conversations. The developments made in resource sharing and shared print can feel like they’re all being made by administrators and vendors, but there is a real desire among the Partnership for Shared Book Collections to include front-line resource sharing practitioners at the table. I made a point from my own observations that resource sharing staff need to be empowered to attend these meetings. They need to be able to step away from their daily duties to bring that first-hand experience to the wider library field. For supervisors, maybe this looks like planning for redundancy in duties so tasks still get accomplished while a staff person is in a meeting. Maybe this also looks like supervisors seeking out opinions of their teams and then acting as an active representative for them in these meetings.

These are conversations we really want to keep going, since we’re going to have to contend with these issues more as time goes on, and budget realities and patron expectations put increasing pressure on our resource sharing programs. Another one of the goals of this panel was to identify the resources and initiatives that are already happening that will help resource sharing navigate the shared print environment. We hope that this panel will be shared among resource sharing practitioners to give them an introduction to these conversations. [NB: as of posting, the video has not yet been made available]

Moderating this panel was an incredible learning experience. Not only did I learn more about the topics we discussed, but I learned about moderating panels in general. Organizing a group of people from different institutions, keeping them on track, keeping everyone within our allotted time, and making connections between the points being made in real time, was an experience that I found very valuable. I definitely think this panel was a success, and hopefully it facilitates discussion beyond just the four of us.

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