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CMI > Project Background > Press Release II - Main Grant

Press Release II - Main Grant

March 20, 2001

Gary Lawrence (510) 987-9461
Phillip G. Torrez (510) 987-9205


The emergence of digital publication as a means of scholarly communication promises significant benefits for scholars as well as research institutions and their libraries. However, managing publications in both print and digital formats also poses major challenges.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the university a $670,000 grant, following a smaller planning grant last June, for a two-year study to explore how scholars and libraries can best integrate and preserve collections of scholarly journals that are published in both print and digital formats. The project, which began in January 2001, will systematically evaluate the factors that affect faculty and student reliance on and use of print and digital resources, and assess the implications of these findings for scholarly and library practice.

"The work that will be supported by this grant complements the University of California's national leadership position in creating digital libraries that support teaching and research by helping us understand how print and digital collections and services can be most effectively blended and managed," said UC President Richard C. Atkinson. "The Mellon Foundation's support for this important initiative helps advance our understanding of how best to employ digital technologies to offer a higher level of excellence in providing library services."

Planning for this study has benefited from the leadership and expert advice of the University's Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Advisory Committee, composed of university faculty, administrators and librarians. The committee has taken the additional step of appointing faculty and librarians to a new standing committee on Library Collection Management. The standing committee will ensure that the results of the two-year research project are effectively incorporated into the plans, polices and administrative procedures of the 10-campus University of California library system.

Like other research universities, the University of California has a strong interest in managing its existing library facilities to accommodate continually growing collections. In addition, due to the pressures within California of significant enrollment growth and the need to address urgent seismic safety deficiencies and replace deteriorating campus infrastructure, the university is faced with competing demands for capital funding.

One way to meet these demands is to use digital technologies to assist in managing library collections, for example, by withdrawing print from the shelves when electronic access is available to the same material. In this way, UC can leverage its considerable investment in digital library collections by providing its libraries greater flexibility in managing their print library collections.

"Research library collections that comprise print and digital resources present substantial challenges and promising opportunities," said Brian E.C. Schottlaender, university librarian at the UC San Diego and principal investigator for the Mellon Foundation grant. He is chair of the new standing committee on Collection Management charged to integrate study findings into university policy and practice.

"The libraries of the University of California look forward to working with the Mellon Foundation in our collective effort to home in on the right 'mix': print and digital, challenge and opportunity," said Schottlaender.

The university's study will explore many aspects of such a strategy that are not well understood, including technical methods and costs and the effect on library operations and services.

The paramount issue to be addressed by this study, however, is the effect on faculty and students as they engage in teaching, learning and research. To address this concern, the central component of the project is an experiment involving the withdrawal from the UC campuses of a group of journal titles that are represented in their library collections in both print and digital formats. During the course of the experiment, faculty and students in selected disciplinary areas will rely on the digital versions of these titles. Depositing a print version in the university's regional library facilities will ensure persistent access to these materials. An extensive program of interviews and surveys will assess the ways in which the experiment affects faculty and students, and how these effects vary among library users, academic disciplines and the characteristics of the journals themselves. Results of the experiment are likely to be of considerable interest to academic and research library communities nationwide.

The University of California is well positioned to undertake this experiment. Since the mid-1970s, the university has been guided by the principle that the library collections of all the campuses should be considered as a single collection rather than as separate collections.

Consistent with this principle, the UC has a history of successful collaboration among campus libraries that includes the development of a shared union catalog, a shared collection development and acquisitions program, two regional library facilities, a shared universitywide digital collection and services provided through UC's California Digital Library, and an expanding intercampus resource sharing program.

"Since 1997, the university has given a high priority to building the California Digital Library, which provides a shared collection of library materials in digital form, along with advanced tools and services, to all students and faculty. The CDL was also created to help guide the UC library system through the transition to a digital future in a way that promotes and sustains the integration of traditional and digital library collections and services," said Beverlee A. French, interim university librarian for systemwide planning.

"The opportunity afforded by this grant from the Mellon Foundation complements the CDL's efforts, makes effective use of the collaborative library organization and shared resources of the university system, and brings us closer to the goal of a truly integrated information resource that can meet the information needs of the UC community without regard for the format or location of the information."

Additional information about the University of California's systemwide library planning and its Collection Management Initiative may be found at

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Last updated: May 29, 2002.