Changes in Global Collection Patterns in ARL Libraries

Friday, April 13, 2007
James Simon -

A report analyzing Association of Research Libraries (ARL) member library cataloging data in the OCLC WorldCat database presents evidence of changing patterns of collecting books with foreign imprints.

This analysis of book records and holdings in WorldCat finds that the overlap of global book collections among ARL libraries is not as extensive as expected. The analysis found that, on average:

• For all countries combined, fewer than five ARL libraries own copies of any foreign-imprint book represented in WorldCat.

• When the same data are examined by world regions, excluding North America, the overlap in holdings ranges from three to six ARL libraries. On average, three ARL libraries hold any given East Asian book and six hold any given book published in Latin America.

A closer examination was made of books from 10 countries (excluding North America) most represented in ARL library collections: United Kingdom (UK), Germany, France, Japan, Italy, China, Spain, Russian Federation, India, and the Netherlands. On average, holdings from these countries decreased in each of the five-year increments between 1980 and 2004, with the exception of books published in the UK that showed a slight increase.

The report also introduces the OCLC WorldMap, an interactive prototype system that provides visual tools for managing and representing geographically based library collections and library data. The WorldMap can be viewed on the OCLC Web site at

The report “Changing Global Book Collection Patterns in ARL Libraries” was prepared for the Global Resources Network (GRN) by: Mary E. Jackson, Auto-Graphics, Inc. (formerly Association of Research Libraries); Lynn Silipigni Connaway, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc.; Edward T. O'Neill, OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc.; and Eudora Loh, University of California, Los Angeles.

GRN is a voluntary and collaborative initiative of higher academic research institutions to expand and enhance access to international scholarly resources. The Center for Research Libraries provides administrative, technical, legal, financial management, and communications support for the regular activities of the GRN and its related projects. ARL and the Association of American Universities maintain a presence on the GRN Advisory Committee and many ARL member libraries are active participants in GRN and its projects.

Due to the number of detailed charts and graphs, the report is best viewed in color. The report is freely available as a PDF on the ARL and the CRL Web sites. See URLs below.


About ARL
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 123 research libraries in North America. Its mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL is located on the Web at

About CRL
The Center for Research Libraries is a consortium of North American universities, colleges, and independent research libraries. The consortium acquires and preserves traditional and digital resources for research and teaching and makes them available to member institutions through interlibrary loan and electronic delivery. CRL is located on the Web at

About OCLC
OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing information costs. OCLC WorldCat is the world's largest database of bibliographic records and holdings. OCLC is located on the Web at