Message from CRL President Bernard Reilly

The contents of this month’s newsletter indicate a high level of activity at the Center. Cataloging of the dissertations collection and other scholarly resources proceeds at a furious pace. And we continue to make important additions to the corpus of newspapers, journals, archives, and other foreign-language materials. With money in short supply CRL is maintaining a vigorous acquisitions program so that member institutions can devote more of their own scarce acquisition funds to purchasing core materials.

Because the universe of important scholarly materials is far too large for one institution to preserve single-handedly, our efforts to build and preserve resources for advanced research go beyond the Center’s walls. CRL is providing leadership in this area by launching two initiatives to promote the strategic preservation of research collections community-wide. The first is a study of depositories that we are undertaking with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). In this study we are gathering information about the various regional depositories in the U.S., their practices, economics, and governance models. Depositories like the University of California’s Northern and Southern Regional Library Facilities and the Five Colleges Library Depository in Western Massachusetts, involve more than off-site storage. They involve cooperative management of individual libraries’ low-use holdings under the auspices of inter-institutional consortia. In some instances these facilities are the loci of coordinated collecting and retention by the participating libraries through programs designed to reduce redundancy. Other facilities house shared “collections of record” that have been developed cooperatively. The efforts represent a new and promising stage in management of library materials in North America, and our analysis will identify key strategies and determinants of success.

The second initiative builds upon the depositories study. In July 2003 the Center will host a conference on the preservation of the nation’s printed collections, funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services. (The conference abstract is available at Conference Abstract PAPR.) The conference will focus on the potential contribution of the regional and national-level repositories to the more rationalized preservation of print resources nationwide. Coordinated collection management at the regional level might yield wider benefits if linked to the programs of national-level depositories like the Center, the Library of Congress, American Antiquarian Society, and others.

Through activities such as these, we believe that our efforts here at the Center and in the field will result in more effective and economical management of knowledge resources throughout the research libraries community.