During its recent Membership Meeting, the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) endorsed the findings of “What to Withdraw: Print Collections Management in the Wake of Digitization”, a report published by Ithaka S+R, the strategy and research arm of ITHAKA. Notably, the report recommends that libraries can safely consider withdrawing numerous copies of JSTOR-digitized journals from their collections and that they take a number of steps to increase the number of journal titles subject to withdrawal more broadly. ASERL believes these recommendations have the potential to alleviate space crunches in overcrowded university libraries across the country.

Co-authors Roger C. Schonfeld, manager of research, and Ross Housewright, analyst at Ithaka S+R, analyzed the rationales for retaining and preserving scholarly journals in print format, incorporating research conducted by Candace Yano, a professor of industrial engineering and operations research and in the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley. They concluded that materials that are adequately digitized and preserved in digital form, contain few images, and are preserved in an appropriate number of print repositories, may be safely withdrawn from library collections without threatening their preservation.

JSTOR’s digitization standards and formal partnerships with print repositories at the University of California and Harvard should provide the community with reasonable confidence that many of the JSTOR-digitized text-only journals are sufficiently well preserved such that library copies are not needed for preservation purposes and can be considered for withdrawal. Libraries will, of course, still need to consider any ongoing need for continuing access to print in consultation with their local communities and consortial partners.

The authors believe many other print journals can likely be deaccessioned responsibly, but the data and accompanying analysis needed to confirm the preservation status of these journals is not yet widely available. Working with partners in the coming years, Ithaka S+R hopes to expand libraries’ collections management options by analyzing the withdrawal potential of a far larger number of journals from a variety of sources beyond JSTOR.

John Burger