The appeal of cooperative repositories is often less compelling for library directors and staff than for university and state administrators. Capital budgets are normally the responsibility of university provosts and state regents. While the effects of overcrowded collections space is felt most acutely by the individual libraries, reconciling the competing needs for capital across the university or system must be done at a higher level. Moreover, the tasks involved in cooperative management of library collections-the selection of materials for storage, their segregation from the on-campus collections, and de-duplication for integration into repository holdings-normally fall to the individual libraries.
In addition, faculty reactions to the impact of removal of materials from campus shelves are normally directed to the library. And, most important for large libraries, the merging of holdings into shared collections can have a negative effect on a library’s standing among its peers.
Despite these obstacles, the prospect of regional repository efforts in the United States acting in concert with, and eventually supporting, the national-level repository activities of organizations such as the Library of Congress, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Center for Research Libraries is quite imaginable. If this is to happen, however, the national-level repositories must agree on the respective domains of library materials for which each of them bears preservation responsibility. The American Antiquarian Society, for example, has assumed responsibility for archiving and preserving U.S. imprints produced before 1877. The LC has expressed its intention to prospectively archive U.S. imprints deposited for copyright, but it has neither committed significant funds to nor specified the details of that effort.
A coordinated effort in the United States effort might benefit from a study of established and emerging cooperative print preservation efforts abroad. These include federal commitments to archive all of a nation’s published materials in the NRL effort in Finland and Norway and national print repository efforts in the conceptual stages in Scotland and Great Britain (see Appendixes 6-7).
With the appropriate resources in place, one could imagine the major North American research libraries, regional repositories, and national-level repositories linked in a network that enables strategic management of the important primary resources for scholarship.