Queen’s University Library is collaborating with the libraries at the University of Toronto, Western University, McMaster University, and the University of Ottawa to preserve low-demand print materials. Extending the University of Toronto’s Downsview facility, the project brings together a purpose-built, high-density storage facility that supports long-term preservation, an existing retrieval and transportation network, and new models of desktop delivery, ensuring that low demand print materials remain readily available for research and study within the province.

Over the years, the library, like research libraries elsewhere, has acquired an extensive collection of print books and journals. Historically, the purchase of print volumes in advance of anticipated need was the primary means of providing the scholarly resources needed to support research and teaching, and building such collections was a key function of an academic research library.

Studies of the usage patterns of research library collections conducted over many years, using a variety of methodologies, and at a variety of institutions have demonstrated that portions of these print collections are infrequently used by the academic community that the library supports. The circulation rate of print materials has declined in research libraries across North America.

Participating in the Downsview project allows us to ensure that low-demand materials remain available to the Queen’s academic community in support of their research and educational activities, while creating space within the library to foster new types of scholarship, offer new library services, enable collection growth, and support both collaborative and individual work within the libraries. The Library and Archives Master Plan (LAMP) guides this process and recognizes our community’s care for both our information resources and library spaces.

University libraries across North America are collaborating to ensure that infrequently used print materials remain available for research and study. The Center for Research Libraries currently lists 39 such projects on their Print Archives Preservation Registry.

A good example in Canada is the work of members of the Council of Prairie and Pacific Libraries on the Shared Print Archive Network (SPAN) project. Participants in SPAN include major research libraries at the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Saskatchewan. Also, the Tri-Universities Group—the University of Waterloo, University of Guelph, and Wilfrid Laurier University—has a longstanding partnership that includes a shared storage facility for library collections.

Collections at Downsview

Guided by LAMP, and after broad consultation, we have developed guiding policies and procedures for selection and transfer of QUL items to Downsview, using layers of access criteria that were reviewed by the LAMP implementation committee, library advisory committees and the Senate Library Committee.

In keeping with these procedures, law librarians identified the first group of materials for transfer to Downsview. Selected titles from the Law Library bound journal collection that were  in local storage for two years were transferred to Downsview and are available for retrieval from the library’s discovery system.  Over the next few years, each library will be conducting print stewardship projects to ascertain the current state of on-site collections and growth, coupled with the new option for offsite storage of low-use items.  There are specific types of materials that will not be considered for transfer to Downsview storage as part of this project:

  • New and recently acquired materials
  • Items that meet criteria for on-site access, local storage or global access
  • Books, journals, and other materials held in the W.D. Jordan Rare Books & Special Collections and the Queen’s University Archives 

Accessing Downsview Materials

Library patrons can  request Downsview materials through the library’s discovery platform for delivery to a Queen’s library location. For some requests, such as individual articles or book chapters, new methods of electronic access are being developed. You can alsorequest an item from Downsview by phoning or visiting the information desk of any Queen’s University Library.

For more information please see the Downsview site, or Ask Us.

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