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ALA Annual 2016: Discussions on Shared Print Collections


Photo-negative image of the Minnesota Library Access Center high-density book stacks.

Whether it’s shelf space for collections, reader space, or space for new programs, space always seems to be in short supply.  One solution some libraries are using to manage shelf space is shared print collections.  The basic concept is simple; one or more libraries agree to keep at least one copy of a title so other libraries can discard theirs.  The responsibility for retaining titles is spread among cooperating libraries and, in return, those libraries can free space in their collections. But the devil is in the details.

At ALA, there are at least three groups working out those details: 

  • The Center for Research Libraries’ Print Archiving Network is an opportunity for libraries and consortia to share and discuss their progress in shared print initiatives.  
  • The High Density Storage Discussion Group looks at the implications of shared print and deduplication for facilities similar to the Minnesota Library Access Center (MLAC).  
  • The Shared Collections Interest Group focuses on how shared collections affect the end user.


Over the next few months, we will be highlighting various initiatives that use shared print collections in conjunction with other strategies such as weeding or high density storage.  Look for more coming soon from MLAC regarding this ever-growing discussion.