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Sharing is Good: An Update from Maine Shared Collections

14 Apr 2015 1:07 PM | Deleted user

As we were all taught back in kindergarten, sharing is good. Several Maine libraries are demonstrating this through participation in Maine Shared Collections. Back in in July’s edition of MLA to Z (summer seems such a long time ago!) I wrote about wrapping up the grant activities of the Maine Shared Collections Strategy (MSCS). Based on our experience from the grant, we’ve developed our own collection analysis service. We provide libraries with data and advice for making decisions about what titles can be safely weeded and those which are potential candidates for long-term retention as part of Maine Shared Collections. So far, 16 libraries have participated in analyzing their print monographs collections (Edythe L. Dyer, Witherle, Northeast Harbor, McArthur, Freeport, seven Community Colleges, University of Maine Farmington, University of Maine at Presque Isle, University of Maine at Augusta, and UMA Bangor) and I’m keen to get as many libraries involved as possible.

Analysis to date

By committing to retain items, member libraries provide other libraries with the option to weed their own local copy, safe in the knowledge that their patrons can still access the title via existing resource sharing agreements. Overlap has been high (on average 40%) between libraries’ print monograph collections and titles already committed to retain by Maine Shared Collections members. Therefore, there have been plenty opportunities for weeding. Some libraries have literally taken their spreadsheets to the stacks to pull items for weeding. Those libraries that have already identified weeding candidates used the spreadsheets as another check before deciding whether an item could be safely weeded.

Generally, the titles identified as retention commitment candidates are those where there are fewer than ten holding libraries in OCLC, don’t have an existing Maine Shared Collections retention commitment, or are Maine related. The average number of titles identified as potential retention candidates account for less than 1% of the library’s print monograph collection. The numbers of titles involved – from only 17 to 97 – are sufficiently low that libraries have felt comfortable making the retention commitments, but there is no obligation for them to do so. Examples of titles that have been committed to retain include Rev. Seth Noble: a revolutionary war soldier's promise of America and the founding of Bangor, Maine and Columbus, Ohio by Carol B. Smith Fisher and Embedded memories: the story of Aroostook potato houses by Roger P. Akeley. 

A nice byproduct of the collection analysis is documentation that identifies incorrect and missing metadata (e.g. incorrect and missing ISBN, OCLC numbers). This can be used to correct records, benefitting other libraries in our shared resource environment. 


There are four main benefits for participating in the collection analysis and joining Maine Shared Collections:

1. Data-informed collection management decisions. While data alone is never going to make decisions, it can be used to make more informed decisions based on overlap with peer libraries, rarity, and usage.

2. Insurance of retention commitments. The large volume of retention commitments made by the grant partners (approximately 1.4 million titles) and those made subsequently by new members can act as an insurance policy. Libraries can choose to weed those titles committed to retain by members while still retaining access to them via inter library loan. 

3. Freeing up local shelf and storage space. 

4. Contributing towards the common good. Even a small number of retention commitments will mean a library is contributing towards the common good of managing and preserving the print collection in Maine.

Collection analysis service

The collection analysis service we offer consists of us providing libraries with spreadsheets which show for print monographs: 

  • Titles they hold which have received a Maine Shared Collections retention commitment.
  • A subset of committed to retain titles they hold that have Maine Shared Collection retention commitments and have had fewer than two circulations at the local library since being added to the collection.
  • Titles they own with zero Maine library holdings in OCLC WorldCat. We also show MaineCat holding levels for these titles.
  • Titles they own with 10 or fewer holdings in OCLC WorldCat. We also show MaineCat holding levels for these titles.
  • Metadata errors e.g. incorrect and missing ISBN, OCLC numbers that can be used to clean records.
  • All item level records with circulation and OCLC WorldCat holdings data.
  • Data permitting, we can adapt these spreadsheets to meet local needs.

The spreadsheets which show local overlap with Maine Shared Collections are generally used by libraries to identify items that they can weed because they are already been committed to retain by a Maine Shared Collections library and have rarely circulated locally. The spreadsheets which include overlap with OCLC and MaineCat are used to identify those titles a library holds that are not widely held elsewhere and are therefore potential candidates for being committed to retain. 

I will meet with library staff to review the spreadsheets and offer suggestions for areas of focus for retention and withdrawal. 

The cost of collection analysis services is based on the time it takes to complete the data extracts and compile the above spreadsheets, so the larger the collection the more time it will take to run the comparisons. For libraries with a collection size of fewer than 50,000 print monograph volumes then it will cost $350. Between 50,000 and 100,000 volumes cost $420. There are NO ongoing membership fees.

There may be other options for libraries who can’t pay fees for the collection analysis service, for further information contact me. Libraries can also self-nominate titles they feel warrant Maine Shared Collections retention commitments by sending me a list of titles they agree to retain. 

Joining Maine Shared Collections 

Ten new libraries have so far joined the Maine Shared Collections Cooperative (MSCC) which means MSCC membership has more than doubled since September 2014. These libraries have committed to retain approximately 300 titles.

If you are interested in finding out more Maine Shared Collections and bringing out your inner kindergartener, please see our website contact me at

Written by Matthew Revitt, Special Collections and Maine Shared Collections Librarian

Maine Library Association

55 N. Main Street, Unit 49

Belchertown, MA 01007


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