Books without Boundaries

A Brief Tour of the System-Wide Print Book Collection

Published July 01, 2006

Roger C. Schonfeld, Brian F. Lavoie

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Print book collections are facing significant transformation in response to mass digitization, remote storage, and preservation. As libraries look beyond the boundaries of their local print book collections to consider system-wide implications, they need to be equipped with data and analysis about the system-wide print book collection. This study, conducted in collaboration with Brian Lavoie of OCLC, provides a brief overview of the system-wide print book collection (defined as the combined print book holdings of libraries everywhere, as reflected in the WorldCat bibliographic database). Issues addressed include the size of the collection, holdings patterns, distribution by publication date and language, and the relationship of the system-wide print book collection to overall book production. The report also includes a brief discussion of some implications of the analysis and possible directions for future research.

“A System-Wide View of Library Collections,” Coalition for Networked Information, Spring Task Force meeting, Washington DC, April 5, 2005

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