Shared Collections


Brief history of the ReCAP Shared Collections initiative 

Since the inception of ReCAP in 2000, the Partners recognized the potential of a shared collection from among their collective holdings. To that end, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supported the development of the Shared Collection Service Bus middleware to help facilitate seamless collection sharing in four phases. The first phase was a planning grant in 2012-2013 to formalize the principles, functional requirements, and operational steps that would allow materials to be shared. The overarching goal was to transform the nature of the partnership from management of a shared storage space at the ReCAP facility to cooperative stewardship of a shared collection. The second phase, initiated in 2015 and concluding in 2017, funded the development of a middleware to manage a robust Discovery to Delivery Program. Following the launch of the Discovery to Delivery Program, we entered a phase to analyze and strengthen the system. This phase ran from 2018 through 2019. The final phase, from 2020 through 2021, was to refactor and standardize the code base. ReCAP leveraged its newest Partner, Harvard, as a test case for the code refactoring.

The Shared Collection Service Bus (SCSB: code on Github; documentation on Confluence) connects the Partners’ Integrated Library Systems (ILS) with ReCAP’s Inventory Management System (IMS).  HTC Global Services was selected through a competitive RFP process to create the system, and Marshall Breeding served as technology consultant to the project. The development and implementation of SCSB and related APIs began in 2016 and launched in late 2017. The products developed in this project have been released under a no-cost, open source or Creative Commons license. With the implementation of SCSB, the ReCAP shared collection, consisting of selected materials already held in storage and additional materials partners deposit in the future, could be managed, retained and shared according to policies developed and agreed to during the planning process.

Direct benefits of the shared collection include vastly expanded resources available to the patrons of each Partner– we’ve estimated that each Partner now has access to an additional 10 million new items, even after accounting for duplication; new opportunities for collaborative collection development activities; and demonstrated new technology and policy models for the national network of shared-print repositories.  Partners realized the first and second benefits by creating a single-copy archive, managed jointly, to which patrons of all Partner libraries have unmediated access.  This new unmediated access model also reduces reliance on expensive interlibrary loan between Partner institutions.

  • This page provides an overview of the work to date on the ReCAP Shared Collections project. For further information and questions, please contact ReCAP's Executive Director.

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