December 15, 2017

Two Academic Library Consortia Merge Efforts to Manage Print Journals

Two academic library consortia launched on January 9 a collaborative print journal archive in an effort to manage costs and limit redundancies.

The Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) and the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) are now partnering in the ASERL Cooperative Journal Retention Program which started in early 2011.

The four members of TRLN — Duke University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, and The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — have collaborated since 2008 on their own print retention program, which to date comprises about 100,000 volumes. But they have now agreed to make all those titles available to the ASERL members who are participating in that organization’s retention program, which also has about 100,000 volumes so far.

“This is resource sharing on a grander scale – rather than relying on another library for one book or article at a time, these libraries are relying on their partners to hold large sections of materials,” said John Burger, ASERL’s executive director. “It is part of the ongoing process of libraries determining the proper level of redundancy of locally-held print collections,” he said.

ASERL is the largest regional academic library cooperative in the country, and about half of its  40 members are participating in the program.

The program adheres to the agreement struck among these members of ASERL in April 2011. Materials are selected based on the completeness and condition of a journal set. A retaining library agrees to keep the set until December 31, 2035 and maintains ownership, but it provides  access (paper copies or electronic) to other libraries participating in the retention program. These libraries can then make decisions about whether to withdraw these journals, often used little, from their own collections.

“We require each library to disclose the storage arrangement they use for the archived materials, so other libraries can decide if they are comfortable with that level of risk before they decide on what to do with their own copies of the same items,” Burger said.

The archived materials can be kept in offsite storage, closed stacks, or open stacks.

“We’re excited that TRLN’s efforts can benefit a larger number of libraries, and look forward to additional contributions from ASERL libraries across the Southeast,” said Sarah Michalak, associate provost and university librarian for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“Given ready access to so much digital content at our libraries, it makes great sense to create new options for managing print collections, especially during a time of increasing demand for new space and services within libraries,” said Michalak, who also is the chair of TRLN’s Executive Committee and ASERL’s Board President.

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Michael Kelley ( is the former Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal.

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