At the beginning of 2002, the Center received a two-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to model and test a framework for the distributed, long-term retention of artifactual collections, using JSTOR journals as a test bed of materials.
The Mellon grant proposes to look at five critical areas essential to the development of a national print archival system: the economics of distributed, long-term retention of artifactual collections; the framework and logistical support necessary for such collections and CRL’s role in providing this support; the development of access archives in addition to dark archives; the development of specific and formal terms and conditions; and the definition and analysis of risk factors associated with those terms and conditions.
What We Have Done to Date
The project got off to a good start in June 2002 when members of the Center staff met with the three partners from Michigan State University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Yale University. The Center staff used that meeting to clarify the role of the partners in developing the model, to define the role CRL would play in the process and to begin to develop criteria for the terms and conditions that each institution would sign.
In July, the Center hired Barbara DesRosiers as the project coordinator for the grant and began working on the terms and conditions. In September, the Center sent a draft of the terms and conditions to the partners for their feedback. The terms and conditions are being revised and will soon be sent to the Center’s legal counsel for guidance in developing them as legally-binding agreements. Once finalized, the terms and conditions will be posted on the Center’s Web site and available to the scholarly community at-large.
During these early months the Center has also pursued the equally critical work of soliciting libraries to donate material for the project. We are locating or acquiring multiple copies of titles to be held in distributed locations as regional access copies. As part of this effort, the Center continues to add to its own collection of JSTOR titles as a “dark” copy, meant for use only in cases of catastrophic loss or other exigent circumstances.
What We Have Learned from Our Partners
These critical early steps have valuable provided learning opportunities for the Center. Each one of the partner institutions brings a different set of local conditions to the project. Michigan State has very limited space for their collections and will be working with materials from their own holdings that match the profile of the grant. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has very crowded conditions now but anticipates a state-of-the-art shelving facility to be completed and functional by Summer 2003. They are working with a limited number of locally held titles for the first year, but will take on other materials, possibly from outside donations, in the second year. Yale University has a library shelving facility that is already up and running. They are the primary modeling site for materials that are donated to the Center from other libraries. We are also working with Yale to identify the issues involved with a creating an access archive for some of the JSTOR material held in special collections.
In each case, the unique conditions of the institution shaped their response to the draft terms and conditions. Working with them, the Center has revised the documents to reflect the specific local conditions that dictate the shape and degree of each institution’s participation. The Center hopes that a model that has the flexibility to adapt to partners, rather than forcing partners to adapt to a national plan, will result in greater dedication to the project and more participation from the library community.
What We Have Learned from Potential Donors
Potential donors have told us a lot about their use of JSTOR and how the Center’s efforts can help them at their own institutions. Whether they came to the project because their own shelves were overflowing or because the print materials simply are not in demand anymore, these librarians and decision makers have indicated that they can benefit locally by donating their materials to the Center. Informing their colleagues and faculty that they could be part of a larger, community-based preservation effort can tip the scales in favor of the decision to remove JSTOR volumes from their collections. It is gratifying that the timing of this grant creates so much interest in the Center and synergy within the library community.
Some libraries have already begun to make significant changes locally. Many have stopped binding JSTOR titles in print. Some have further resorted to discarding print materials that are available on JSTOR, retaining only those volumes not yet online because of the moving wall. The donating libraries often have limited shelving capacity and do not expect to plan additions or renovations. They have found that their budgets do not allow them keep up with the cost of retaining both print and digital access to resources. For all these reasons, they are relying solely on the stability of JSTOR.
In addition, efforts at local libraries and among regional groups mirror the effort the Center has undertaken. Librarians are joining up with colleagues at neighboring institutions to develop joint collections, to undertake local de-duplication projects, to assign “last copy” responsibilities among themselves and to develop joint storage or shelving facilities. The Center has received a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources to write a report on some of these efforts. (Look for more on this in a future issue of FOCUS.)
After the terms and conditions are in place, the Center will take up other important activities. A representative of the Center will perform at least one site visit to each partner’s archival site to certify that the conditions of storage are being met. The Center will work to develop a national registry system. Third parties will have the ability to search the registry, locate the corresponding terms and conditions online and decide whether the conditions and number of copies stored are sufficient for them to remove the material from their own shelves. The Center will compile data on the costs associated with these activities and on the experience of the partner institutions.
Donation solicitations are an ongoing activity, both for the archive at the Center as well as additional copies which would be placed in one of the partners’ facilities. More information about the Center’s holdings of JSTOR titles and the project. Members who are interested in donating JSTOR titles to the Center should contact Margaret Stigler. [contact info updated 2/2/04].