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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Spring 2001

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[Board Accepted]

Collection Management Strategies in a Digital Environment

Cecily Johns
Project Director
Collection Management Initiative
University of California, and
Deputy University Librarian
University of California, Santa Barbara


This paper describes a grant-funded research project to relocate selected print journal runs, for which an electronic version is available, to remote storage from the shelves of campus libraries at the University of California. During the project, users will rely on the electronic version of selected journals. Data, including costs associated with the project, usage of print journals, usage of electronic journals, as well as user behavior and attitudes, will be gathered and used to develop long-range strategies and institutional policies.

Collection Management Strategies in a Digital Environment is a two year grant project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and began on January 1, 2001 and extends through December 31, 2002.

Purpose of the Grant

The project will involve removing from campus libraries selected print journals for which electronic access is provided and relocating these journals to remote storage. A major objective of the grant will be to gather data, including costs and usage of both print and electronic versions of selected journals during the experiment. We will also be studying user attitudes and preferences when the primary use of these journals is access to the electronic version.

There are currently nine campuses of the University. Campus libraries that participate in the study can do so as an "experimental" or as a "control" library.

Experimental library

These libraries will participate by removing selected journals for which electronic access is provided from the campus library to remote storage. Data collection for the journal titles selected will include gathering data on requests to retrieve print volumes from storage and electronic use of these titles.

Control library

These libraries will participate by maintaining selected print journals for which electronic access is provided on their shelves and gathering usage data provided through reshelving and circulation counts. Use of the electronic versions will also be monitored.

Objectives for the Project

The goal of the project is to explore issues associated with integrating and managing research library journal collections composed of shared print and digital formats. The study will evaluate the factors that affect reliance on shared digital resources to relieve pressure on physical facilities and capital budgets to house and manage print materials. Our specific objectives are to:


Two events in early 2000 initiated a planning process to develop a research grant to explore issues and strategies for managing collections combining both digital and print formats.

The first step was to apply for a planning grant from the Mellon foundation. With the funds from this grant UC embarked on the development of a two year project to be funded by with Mellon. In the final {grant proposal}, the planning team made the case that the University is well positioned to undertake such a project because the University has.

Criteria for the Selection of Journals

During the planning phase, we developed criteria for the journals selected to be relocated to storage if an electronic version was available. The specific criteria are:

The Advisory Committee for the project urged us to capture variety in characteristics of the journal literature and its use by faculty and students in various disciplines, and assess the implications of that variety for collection management policies in the mixed print/digital environment.

Phases of Grant

The two year project will be carried out in three overlapping phases:

Phase 1: Consultation and decision-making including the identification of journal titles to be included in the study and the campuses that will participate (January 1 - June 30, 2001)

Phase 2: Implementation of the actual experiment when print journals are relocated to storage and the gathering of data of ongoing (July 1 - June 30, 2002)

Phase 3: Evaluation of Institutional Strategies, Policies, and Programs for archiving and management of collections in the print and digital environment (July 1 - December 30, 2002). During Phase 3 of the project we plan to assess what we have learned during the experiment itself and to develop UC-wide strategies, policies, and programs for archiving and managing collections in both print and digital form.

Acknowledgement: I wish to thank Gary Lawrence, Co-Project Investigator, and Brian Schottlaender, Project Investigator for their contributions to this paper.

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