The Nation's Libraries
Analyzing Federal Library Collections
The Federal Library Information Network (FEDLINK) has started an initiative to help federal librarians better understand the collective holdings of federal libraries. Working with the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), FEDLINK recently developed preliminary reports for more than federal libraries in the OCLC network.
The preliminary reports have already yielded some interesting results. For instance, federal libraries have indicated ownership of items associated with more than 26.3 million titles in OCLC. Sixteen percent, or 4.2 million, of these titles are for items held by only one federal library. The number of unique items held by federal libraries is certain to be higher. The majority of the Library of Congress' unique titles are monographs. This difference in types of material represented in OCLC illustrates the issues FedLink faces as it moves forward with its federal library collection analysis.Many titles held by federal libraries are not in OCLC. Also, a single title, for such things as serials, can represent hundreds of items.
OCLC Research also provided FEDLINK with a comparison of federal library title holdings to titles digitized and stored in the HathiTrust, a digital collection partnership comprised of major research institutions and libraries. Approximately 2.95 million titles held by federal libraries have already been digitized. Of these, roughly 85 percent are still copyright protected.
FEDLINK's preliminary results introduce more questions to the discussion than answers. How much material held by federal libraries is hidden because it has never been cataloged through OCLC? How unique are specific volume holdings for a given serial title or other multi-part title? Perhaps the biggest question is how can this information help inform decisions about federal libraries in this difficult budgetary period? In the coming months, FEDLINK will be working with OCLC and the federal library community to find answers to these and similar questions.
Last Updated: 08/09/2012