Abstract: UKRR – a collaborative collection management strategy


Andy Appleyard, British Library (United Kingdom)

The British Library is one of the greatest research libraries in the world.  It holds in excess of 150 million items, from original print newspapers to manuscripts, books, journals sound recordings and unique personal archives. The collection is both historic and contemporary bringing together the nation’s memory for the purpose of cultural appreciation and research.

In terms of meeting its defined purposes, the British Library (BL) must transform to meet the current and future needs of research demands because the way in which society seeks knowledge has changed.  The traditional library is one of card catalogues and magical reference numbers that navigate the researcher in an analogue world to the knowledge they seek. Nowadays the modern day researcher expects the data and content in their hands anywhere, in dynamic and social spaces, rejecting the past norms of formal research establishments. As the BL adjusts to accommodate this need it must still maintain access to its print collections and of course preserve them for future generations.

The UK Research Reserve (UKRR) project set the ambitious target of saving 100km of shelf space within University Libraries by de-duplicating low use print journals on the premise that a master, accessible copy is held within the BL.  This collaboration between the BL, UK HE and (formerly) the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has subsequently delivered 120km of library shelf space amounting to c£23m capital saving and c£2.2m operational savings pa.

This paper describes the evolution of the new access and preservation approach building on the UKRR project outcomes. It will explain how print preservation and access can fit harmoniously alongside a digital strategy reflecting the need for a wider access model that democratises content whilst ensuring preservation for future generations.

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