Assessment and Advancement of our Shared Print Program

March 18, 2021

Contributed by Heather Weltin, Shared Print Program Officer

“We are stronger and better when working together in most things, especially in preserving resources in the future.” – discussion attendee

At the end of August 2020, HathiTrust began a process to gather feedback from our then 77 retention libraries regarding their views and opinions about our Shared Print Program. The goal was not only to learn about satisfaction levels, but to also discuss and identify potential new services and enhancements for our program.

Our assessment was conducted through a survey of our retention libraries and discussion groups. The survey was HathiTrust’s first opportunity to hear directly from retention libraries regarding their opinions on the goals, satisfaction, and potential new services of the shared print program. During the survey, we also organized 7 different stakeholder discussions with 36 participants in attendance representing 32 different member institutions. The stakeholder participants were identified through a review of members who are shared print retention libraries, and have shown a high level commitment to digitization and ingest.

Below is a summary of our key findings from both the survey and discussions, and an outline of advancements we plan to focus on for the rest of this year and into next, but we encourage you to read the full Shared Print Program Assessment report below for more robust details.

As one respondent noted, “I see the benefits [of the shared print program] as extending beyond the membership. All libraries, especially research libraries, have an obligation to preserve and share (in print and digital forms) the collective collection now and in the future.”

Shared Print Program Assessment Report, 2020

Key Findings

Member Satisfaction and Program Value

●      Most libraries have a high level of satisfaction with the HathiTrust Shared Print Program (HTSPP) and their own library’s level of participation in the program.

●      The HTSPP goal of preserving both the print and digital collections remains important and is one of the main reasons why libraries participate.

●      Several services proposed in the HathiTrust Print Monographs Archive Planning Task Force Report[1] still resonate with participants but a few ideas mentioned there were perceived to be of lesser value today than in 2015.


●      HTSPP is seen as an expansion and service of membership and one that members are inclined to do simply as part of their roles as members. It is of high value because, like HathiTrust’s other services, HTSPP demonstrates that collectively libraries can do more than alone.

●      Analytics and data are essential to enhance shared print programs. HathiTrust and members require this data to responsibly manage local and global collections, assign value to shared print, and have a better understanding of collection risks.

●      Preservation continues to be seen as a unique value of HTSPP because of the connection between the digital and print but access to materials is also important. But more data is needed in order to understand risks to preservation stemming from circulation for the global shared print collection.

●      In general, there are very few barriers for participation in the HTSPP but improvements around data requirements and submissions, insufficient local resources, and lack of talking points around the value of shared print are challenging for some.

Future Directions

●      The lack of verification and condition assurances on commitments is of concern to members when thinking about long term preservation of shared print items. On the other hand, members recognized that not requiring verification of committed volumes made the barriers to participating as a retention partner quite low.

●      Expansion of HTSPP is critical to respondents. Extension of the length of commitments, which is currently 25 years, is of less concern, rather, HTSPP should focus on new commitments, new formats, and data gathering first.

●      There is general interest in developing a non-circulating sub-collection of commitments as long as the focus is on special collection or collections of distinction and consideration of future digital access is included. However, respondents indicated it would be difficult to commit space to non-circulating items.

●      Unless unique services provided by retention libraries are involved (validation, digitization services for shared print, etc.), financial compensation for retention libraries is seen as less important.

●      More scanning and digitization are needed and considered closely aligned with shared print and opportunities for development, but enabling unique discovery to delivery systems for just HathiTrust shared print commitments is a lower priority. Members would rather we focus on helping improve the landscape of current resource sharing services for shared print materials.

Using the survey and discussions findings as our guide, the Shared Print Advisory Committee (SPAC) will be focusing on all of these throughout the year but overall, our key focus will be on data and analytic capabilities and needs, considerations around more preservation-like efforts (i.e. validation, commitments, etc.), and the collaborative role HathiTrust can play for our members around different shared print initiatives. Above all else, will be our role in finding a balance between new services, ideas, their costs, and what value they add for our members.


[1]  HathiTrust Print Monographs Archive Planning Task Force Report. June 2015.