DUBLIN, Ohio, June 30, 2011— OCLC Research and Research Libraries UK are working together on a project to gather data on special collections in research libraries in the UK and Ireland. The project is similar to a project conducted by OCLC Research in 2009 that gathered data on special collections in the United States and Canada.

The distinction that special collections bring to research institutions has become widely recognized, and an aggregated profile of collections, access policies, users, adoption of new technologies, and other important topics will establish norms across the UK special collections community. The data will effectively support decision-making for strategic priorities and collaborative projects. Individual libraries will be able to place themselves in the context of community norms and consider taking appropriate actions in response.

The survey population will include all Research Libraries UK (RLUK) members, as well as OCLC Research Library Partnership institutions in the UK and Ireland. The project fits comfortably into RLUK’s current strategic priorities, which include a strand, Unique and Distinctive Collections, which focuses on maximizing the potential of special collections. It also extends the impact of OCLC Research’s 2009 work by facilitating comparison of responses in North America and the UK. By working together, these two organizations bring a larger reach and expertise to this project due to their confluence of mutuality and strong working relationships.

“OCLC Research is pleased to work jointly with RLUK on this project because they are an organization whose mission and goals align well with those of the OCLC Research Library Partnership. There is significant overlap in our member organizations. For these and other reasons, they are natural partners and we’re pleased to be working with them,” said Merrilee Proffitt, OCLC Research Senior Program Officer.

“RLUK has identified support for our members’ unique and distinctive collections as a key strategic aim,” said David Prosser, RLUK Executive Director. “This survey is most timely as it will provide a clear view of the collections we manage and our users, allow us to benchmark internationally with colleagues in the US and Canada, and provide compelling evidence as a basis to develop new means for supporting the collections.”

The OCLC Research and RLUK project team expects to retain most questions from the 2009 survey to enable comparisons across the two projects. The questions will be adapted or enhanced as appropriate to reflect practices and priorities of the RLUK community. A committee of experts selected by the RLUK board of directors will work with OCLC Research staff to adapt the survey to the RLUK landscape.

A report detailing the results of the survey will be published in the second quarter of 2012.