What to Withdraw: Print Collections Management in the Wake of Digitization
Published September 01, 2009
Roger C. Schonfeld, Ross Housewright
As journals are increasingly accessed in digitized form, many libraries have grown interested in de-accessioning little-used print originals; but desires to repurpose space often come into conflict with concerns about preservation. “What to Withdraw: Print Collections Management in the Wake of Digitization” analyzes which types of journals can be withdrawn responsibly today and how that set of materials can be expanded to allow libraries the maximum possible flexibility and savings in the future.
For journals that are principally accessed in digital form, preservation is the primary remaining role of the print original. This study analyzes the rationales for retaining some copies of scholarly journals in print format, determining that actual ongoing community needs for print materials in the face of high quality and well-preserved digitization are significant but not unlimited.
Based on the expected continuing needs for print materials, this report considers the minimum time period for which access to the original will be required and assesses the number of print copies necessary to ensure that these goals are met. While complex, this methodology provides for a variety of risk profiles based on key characteristics, with preservation recommendations that similarly vary.
At the same time, the report warns that other print materials may not yet be ready for broad withdrawal without threatening both access and preservation goals. For these materials, a number of strategies are recommended to increase the flexibility available to libraries in the future.
This report is intended to help libraries manage their print collections with greater flexibility, without unduly increasing the risk of loss, following the availability of digitized versions. To assist librarians with collections management decisions, Ithaka S+R developed a decision-support tool to apply the logic of the "What to Withdraw" report. The current version of this tool (an excel spreadsheet) is available below and can be used by librarians to determine which JSTOR-digitized journals meet the "What to Withdraw" criteria and therefore may be responsibly deaccessioned in print form by any library.