Message from CRL President Bernard Reilly

On July 21st, the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), in cooperation with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), hosted a conference of library directors, administrators, and planners to help inform and shape a national-action agenda for preserving the nation’s printed heritage. The conference — Preserving America’s Printed Resources: the Roles of Repositories, Depositories and Libraries of Record — brought together a slate of presenters from the U.S. and abroad who are actively engaged in major repository and collection-of-record programs. It provided a forum for exploration of high-level preservation strategies affecting multiple libraries and broad sectors of the community.

The following day, Tuesday, July 22, a planning meeting, structured as an extended discussion among conference presenters and other invited representatives of the major sectors engaged in the stewardship of the nation’s print library materials. Federal libraries, the Government Printing Office (GPO), independent research libraries, large academic libraries, law libraries, smaller academic libraries, and state libraries were all represented.

The planning meeting focused on the question “How can the nation’s libraries build upon existing regional and national efforts to optimize management of knowledge resources in printed form?” Conferees agreed that management of these resources is optimized when it provides the scholarly community the greatest possible richness and diversity of knowledge resources, minimizes inadvertent losses, and makes the most efficient use of available human and financial resources.

Discussions drew heavily upon the previous day’s conference presentations, which outlined a range of cooperative collection management and print preservation efforts.

The report of the planning day is now in draft and is circulating among the participants for comment. It will be published on the CRL website in October. The day’s discussions, however, yielded two broad goals for a national-action agenda:

  1. Synchronize the extant and emerging print archiving and collections-of record efforts. The existence of overlap between many of the print management and preservation activities undertaken by the Library of Congress, GPO,CRL, regional repositories, and independent research libraries strongly suggests that inter institutional and cross-sector cooperation could promote the rational and economic use of scarce resources, and scholarly confidence in the libraries’ efforts to preserve heritage materials.
  2. Increase the availability of information needed for preservation decisionmaking by individual libraries and consortia. The availability of robust holdings data for print archives and collections of record, and information on the strategies, terms, conditions, and standards adopted for those collections and archives would enable greater inter reliance among libraries in preserving important heritage materials.

With some effort the framework will help to ensure the long-term survival of important research and heritage materials. We at CRL are grateful to the Institute for Museum and Library Services for their support of the PAPR conference and planning day, and look forward to working with IMLS and others to build upon the strategic framework developed.