Taking steps to share more Special Collections materials through Interlibrary Loan

By: Meg Massey, Interlibrary Loan  

As part of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, Penn State has been engaging in conversations with the consortium about how we are (or are not) sharing our special collections materials.  According to the presentation, A Tale of Three Projects: Sharing Special Collections Materials Via Resource Sharing, a survey was released in April 2017 to gauge the level of sharing between BTAA ILL departments and their Special Collections departments.  While the survey found that 12 out of 15 institutions shared articles from Special Collections, only 8 out of 15 shared loans from Special Collections.

After conducting this survey, the BTAA formed the Interlibrary Loan-Special Collections Task Force, which included representation from four BTAA Interlibrary Loan departments, and three Special Collections departments, including Penn State’s Matt Francis, Associate Head of Special Collections.  This task force worked together to create the Big Ten Academic Alliance: Principles and Protocols for Interlibrary Loan of Special Collections Materials.

Locally at Penn State, we’re already working to implement the recommended practices in this document by looking for ways to say yes to requests for items in Special Collections.  Before this document was created, our Interlibrary Loan department already had established protocols for requesting materials from Special Collections, both for our own PSU patrons and for borrowing libraries.  Working with Special Collections, we recently were able to revise our procedures to remove “automatic no” collections (such as the Blockson and Gaines Collections) so that we can really evaluate each request on a case-by-case basis to see if it’s possible to share that item in some way.  We appreciate this opportunity to collaborate with the Special Collections department to make these rare items more accessible to our Big Ten partners and beyond.

To learn more about sharing Special Collections materials through Interlibrary Loan, listen to the audio recording of A Tale of Three Projects: Sharing Special Collections Materials Via Resource Sharing, which was presented at this year’s OCLC Resource Sharing Conference.  Brian Miller, a member of the BTAA ILL-Special Collections Task Force, shares about the Task Force and their work to create this important document during his portion of the presentation.