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Big Ten Libraries Create Framework for Sharing Special Collections

Apr 19, 2018

Librarians of the Big Ten Academic Alliance have developed the BTAA Principles and Protocols for InterLibrary Loan of Special Collections, agreeing to terms that will open up treasures long restricted to local viewing.

In addition to laying out common expectations and responsibilities when borrowing and lending special collections items, this document provides a framework for why and how interlibrary loan requests for selective special collections items should be considered and potentially be filled between member libraries under our shared principles of access, preservation, and collaboration.  

  Sharing special collections allows member libraries to:

  • Optimize student and faculty access to these special research materials;
  • Support the long-term stewardship and preservation of these materials entrusted to our libraries;
  • Promote collaboration where library staff within and across our institutions work together to find resource sharing solutions.
Chair of the Big Ten ILL–Special Collections Task Force that developed this framework,  Brian Miller, Head of Interlibrary Services at The Ohio State University, explained the need and opportunities of sharing these resources: “I’ve made the analogy that scientists and pop culture experts always talk about space being the final frontier, but that they get push back from others who say we haven’t even explored all of the earth’s oceans yet. Well, ILL librarians always talk about Ebooks as the last frontier to conquer for resource sharing, but I push back that we still haven’t plumbed the depths of how to share our vast and deep special collections materials with each other. We in the Big Ten are changing that.  Interlibrary loan of special collections is no longer the taboo subject that it used to be.”

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