Combining, and Improving, Print Assets

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

CRL and the Linda Hall Library recently began to work together to digitize historical serials from their combined holdings.  That may seem like small news, but it represents a big step in CRL’s shared print efforts.

Back in 2012, CRL and the Linda Hall Library (LHL) formed a partnership to preserve and develop research collections together in the fields of science, technology and engineering. The Global Resources STE Partnership provides CRL member libraries access to the combined serial holdings of CRL and LHL through electronic article delivery. (Last year Linda Hall filled 8,000 document delivery requests for CRL libraries.) The combined holdings also comprise the largest permanent print archive of commercial and scholarly STE journals in North America, providing assurance to CRL members making local retention decisions.

Fast forward to 2016: CRL and Linda Hall are now digitizing historical serial titles in the fields of Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautics, and Railroads. These are 19th and early 20th century serials for which CRL and LHL both hold incomplete runs. (This also provides us an opportunity to fill gaps in our holdings of these titles.) We now propose to merge these partial runs, once they are digitized, and to transfer ownership of the CRL volumes to LHL. CRL will retain the right of first refusal for the materials should LHL decide to discard or dispose of them. 

We believe that a complete, well-curated run at one repository is better than two partial runs hundreds of miles apart. And since high-quality digital surrogates will be available to researchers at CRL member institutions, we can retire many fragile print volumes.This will also enable CRL to devote precious space and resources to unique, at-risk publications.   

Albeit unprecedented, we believe that this arrangement represents responsible stewardship and is an example of how academic research libraries and independent research libraries can profitably work together. However, because the decision on disposal of CRL collection materials belongs to CRL members, we will hold a vote on that matter following this year’s Council of Voting Members meeting.  At the meeting I will say more about how this fits into our plans for developing CRL collections and resources.  

Bernard F. Reilly
President (2001-2019)
Center for Research Libraries