January 26, 2022

New Report from OCLC Research: “Tiers for Fears: Sensible, Streamlined Sharing of Special Collections”

Note: Worthy a “Shout” Out,  Kudos to OCLC Research on the title of this report. (-: 

From OCLC Research:

Tiers for Fears: Sensible, Streamlined Sharing of Special Collections, written by OCLC Research Program Officer Dennis Massie, presents strategies for providing efficient and affordable interlending of actual physical items from special collections for research purposes, as well as advice on determining if a loan is the most appropriate way to fulfill a particular request.

A working group made up of resource sharing supervisors and special collections curators from OCLC Research Library Partnership institutions created a set of tools that will help institutions reconsider and streamline their processes for handling loan requests for special collections materials.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Although requests for loaning special collections are increasing, there is currently no consensus on any aspect of sharing special collections.
  • Lending physical items from special collections is now more common than not, at least within consortia.
  • A sense of good will exists in the ILL community toward institutions that are willing lend special collections.
  • Sometimes only the loan of physical items from special collections can satisfy a request.
  • The rareness and condition of an item significantly impacts the lending decision.
  • Risk is the most common reason for not sharing returnable special collections.
  • The dominant factor in determining the level of lending effort and overhead is attitude toward risk.
  • A tiered approach to streamlining workflows associated with lending special collections can be invoked based on the material, the request and the risk tolerance of curators and administrators.
  • Trust must exist not only between borrowing and lending institutions but also between ILL and Special Collections.
  • Also included in the report are a model written sharing policy, a facilities “trust” checklist, and a flexible, tiered framework for getting to a sensible “yes” as often as possible.
About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.