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HathiTrust Shared Print Program - From Task Force Recommendations to Today

HathiTrust Shared Print Program - From Task Force Recommendations to Today 

By Heather Weltin, HathiTrust Shared Print Program Officer

Since its start in 2016, the HathiTrust Shared Print Program has stayed true to its goals of ensuring preservation of print and digital collections by linking the two, to reduce overall costs of collection management for HathiTrust members, and to catalyze national/continental collective management of collections, all of which were identified as major goals in the Task Force Report.

Today, HathiTrust member libraries have committed to retain almost 18 million monograph volumes to be retained for 25 years under the HathiTrust Shared Print Program. These volumes represent more than 5.4 million individual titles held in the HathiTrust Digital Library (about 76% of all HathiTrust digital monographs). As we wrap-up the current phase of the program, we thought it was a good time to look at the history and success of the program compared to the original Task Force recommendations, and ponder the future. 

A Blueprint for Shared Print: Task Force Report

The origin of the HathiTrust Shared Print Program has its roots in 2011. In October 2011, HathiTrust members approved a ballot initiative to develop a Distributed Print Monographs Archive corresponding to volumes represented within HathiTrust Digital Library. From Spring 2014 to March 2015 the HathiTrust Print Monographs Archive Planning Task Force worked on a Final Report outlining recommendations for a HathiTrust Print Monographs Archive, now called the HathiTrust Shared Print Program.

The HathiTrust Print Monograph Archive Planning Task Force Final Report provided a useful blueprint for the HathiTrust Shared Print Program. The goal of the Shared Print Program, called HathiTrust Shared Print Monographs Program (HTSPMP), was to secure matching print copies of every digital monograph in the HathiTrust Digital Library’s corpus and to do so through a quick launch of the program. The Task Force Report had an “initial target of matching 50% of the digital collection of monographs, roughly 3,000,000 titles, and will be built from large commitments by a group of volunteer libraries.” 

Starting Phase I and Expanding to Phase II

In June 2017, HathiTrust launched Phase 1 of the Shared Print Program. During that initial Phase, 50 HathiTrust member libraries committed to retain more than 16 million volumes for 25 years. This is equivalent to 4.8 million individual book titles held in the HathiTrust Digital Library (about 65% of all HathiTrust digital monographs). Through volunteer member library commitments, HathiTrust was able to secure more print commitments than the 50% estimate the Task Force Final Report expected during Phase 1. 

Following the quick launch of Phase 1, Phase 2 focused on a more thoughtful collective collection building analysis. HathiTrust worked with Sustainable Collection Services (SCS) to analyze print holding records across shared print retention libraries and to develop retention commitment lists. For this Phase, we also built in one of the Task Force’s recommendations “to disperse commitments geographically." Phase 2, which was completed in June 2019, we secured another 1,578,626 monographs as part of this phase (more than 750,000 individual titles) distributed across the U.S. Census locations

We adopted several Task Force recommendations that would help establish a lightweight program that relied on the “common interests and values, low-cost voluntarism, and services currently in place among members.” Following the recommendations, we accepted retention commitments for circulating items, placed no conditions on the type of facility or shelving in which they would be held, and did not require validation or verification of these retained volumes. 

Because of the comprehensive details outlined in the initial Task Force Final Report and the number of responses from Member Libraries interested in participating, HathiTrust’s Shared Print Program was able to quickly launch a new program while also building on and strengthening existing shared print programs, allowing it to become the largest monograph shared print program nationally. 

Using the Blueprint to Envision the Future of HathiTrust’s Shared Print Program

As we look to the future, we'll begin to reevaluate several Task Force Final Report recommendations that we deferred. These recommendations include infrastructure development, discovery and access of materials, and business modeling. HathiTrust’s Shared Print Program relies upon our Shared Print Registry that records the commitments made by all of the Retention Libraries. This data includes item-level information for commitments and limited metadata. As our program develops, we will start investigating ways to develop and provide Members with collection reports comparing library print holdings to retention commitments. We also plan to include the ability to search, display, and download information about shared print retention commitments made by the Member's own or another HathiTrust library. 

Along with these capabilities, we will also turn an eye towards resource sharing networks and the ability to facilitate discovery to delivery of HathiTrust Shared Print Program materials. We plan to rely on the strength of existing resource sharing networks in order to do this. The goal is to enhance resource sharing for this collection and not disrupt services already in place at all Member Libraries. 

Disclosures of commitments in local systems will continue to be a cornerstone preservation aspect of our program in order to prevent deselection of these volumes that the retention libraries have committed to retain. HathiTrust will continue discussions with OCLC regarding their shared print registration service. We anticipate including HathiTrust’s Shared Print Program commitments in aggregated data on library collections OCLC accumulates in order to support shared print collection management and advancement. 

Intentionally Growing the Shared Print Community

The initial costs for developing and maintaining the repository’s technical infrastructure were funded by HathiTrust. As we begin to develop member services and evolve the Shared Print Program, HathiTrust will work toward understanding the total cost of shared print activities among the retention libraries and at HathiTrust, to better ensure that the program is financially resilient and sustainable well into the future. While the initial Task Force Final Report did evaluate options, several years have passed so we plan to start reviewing again. 

With all of the above, HathiTrust plans to focus on ways to ensure an annual pace of growth for our program. These ideas include securing commitments on newly deposited materials, the expansion to different formats, and partnering with other Member Libraries. As called for in the Task Force Final Report, our Shared Print Program will continue to enable HathiTrust to “make further, transformative impacts on the management of libraries” and enable and “encourage a community- wide approach to the management of the collective collection by producing a critical mass of public retention commitments, defining new preservation and collection management standards, and catalyzing enhanced service development.” Between growth and development in services and structure, HathiTrust’s Shared Print Program will continue to position itself as a leader in print retention as it has been in digital preservation. 


Read more about the program, see lists of retention libraries, program metrics, and the original planning documents online at HathiTrust Shared Print Program.