Keep @ Downsview

Last updated February 10

What is Keep@Downsview?

Western is collaborating with the libraries at the University of Toronto, McMaster University, Queen's University, and the University of Ottawa in a new partnership to preserve and provide ongoing access to low-demand print materials. Keep@Downsview is a purpose-built, high-density storage and long-term preservation facility, with an existing retrieval and transportation network, including desktop delivery, that will enable low demand print materials to remain available for research and study within the province.

Why is Western Libraries participating in Keep@Downsview?

Keep@Downsview provides Western a unique opportunity to participate in collaborative print collection stewardship, management, and development while allowing continued access to low-demand items.

It is important for low-demand print collections to remain available in support of the research and educational activities of Western's academic community. Participating in Keep@Downsview allows this to occur, while at the same time supporting continued collection growth and creating opportunities for the library to foster new types of scholarship and introduce new library services. Keep@Downsview also enables partners to manage the collection footprint to optimize use of space while maintaining significant and relevant print collections in campus libraries.

Over the years, Western Libraries, like research libraries elsewhere, has acquired a sizeable collection of print books and journals. Historically, the purchase of print volumes in advance of anticipated need was the only reliable means of providing the scholarly resources required to support research and teaching, and building such collections was the primary function of an academic research library.

Studies of the usage patterns of such research library collections, conducted over many years using a variety of methodologies at different institutions, have demonstrated that large portions of these print collections are never or seldom used by the academic community that the library supports. More generally, the overall circulation rate of print materials—the number of checkouts annually—is also steadily declining in research libraries across North America as researchers turn to other formats to conduct their research and support their teaching.

Will Western retain ownership of library materials even though the Downsview facility is managed by the University of Toronto?

Yes. Western Libraries retains sole ownership of unique materials included in the Keep@Downsview program from our collection. The Keep@Downsview agreement also allows partners to share ownership of volumes that they hold in common and choose to include in the program. Materials continue to be discoverable in the Libraries' catalogue and are counted in the collections statistics that are provided to various reporting bodies, such as the Association of Research Libraries.

Are programs like Keep@Downsview a common practice among research libraries?

Yes. University libraries across North America are working together to ensure that low-demand print materials remain available for research and study. The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) currently lists many such projects on their Print Archives Preservation Registry (PAPR). A good example in Canada is the work of members of the Council of Prairie and Pacific Libraries on the Shared Print Archive Network (SPAN). Participants in SPAN include major research libraries such as the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Saskatchewan. Also, the Tri-Universities Group—the University of Waterloo, University of Guelph, and Wilfrid Laurier University—has a longstanding partnership that includes a shared storage facility for library collections.

Several of these collaborations for shared collections have recently come together and, in January 2020, formed the Partnership for Shared Book Collections. The vision for this partnership is ”…to ensure the long-term preservation of, access to, and integrity of monographic print resources.” Keep@Downsview will join this partnership in 2020.

How are materials identified for inclusion in Keep@Downsview?

A variety of criteria to identify materials appropriate for the Keep@Downsview program are considered. Rare books and items in special collections are not intended for the Keep@Downsview program. Initially, only books that have no record of being checked out for the past 10 years are considered to be low-demand and a candidate for Keep@Downsview. These criteria were developed by experienced librarians, drawing on their understanding of how collections are used. Some materials lend themselves to in-house use and are less likely to circulate; as such, reference materials, large format books such as art books, and multi-volume works may need additional considerations.

Overall, circulation data is the most reliable available indicator to assess the usage of physical volumes. In assessing circulation data, materials are considered only after they have been in the collection for more than 10 years, to be sure they have had sufficient time to be discovered and used. In terms of our book collection, a great deal of historical circulation data is available; borrowing history information extends back to 1996.

Journals, not having circulation data, require a different approach. In identifying print journals appropriate for the Keep@Downsview program a number of factors are considered, such as whether the subscription is active, the availability of stable, owned online back-files, the age and condition of the volumes, and the language of the journal, as well as the subject area covered.

Are there any materials that will not be considered for Keep@Downsview?

Yes, there are several areas of the Library's collection and some specific types of materials that will not be considered for the Keep@Downsview program:

  • New and recently acquired print books and current print issues of journals. Materials are considered only after they have been in the collection for more than 10 years.
  • Any materials that have circulated at least once in the past 10 years.
  • Indexes and bibliographies, particularly large ongoing works that do not have digital equivalents, will be kept onsite as finding tools.
  • Multi-volume monographs will not normally be split between locations, and reference-type publications will need specific consideration as they are often large, unwieldly and more easily consulted within the Library.
  • Books, journals, and other materials held in the Libraries' special collections, including the rare book room, are not under consideration. Material from the general stacks identified as more appropriate for special collections or the rare book room will be transferred to these collections.
  • A number of special formats are beyond the current scope of the program, including LPs, CDs, DVDs, and other audiovisual materials; music scores, sheet maps, and microfilm and microfiche.

How do I provide feedback on materials being considered for Keep@Downsview?

In advance of new collection management projects, there will be outreach to Faculties to solicit feedback on the criteria used to identify materials for transfer to Downsview. Feedback from campus partners, about materials and on-site usage across disciplines, is welcome and necessary so that academic programs and active scholarship are supported by relevant collections. We are engaging with the Faculties to determine appropriate approaches for soliciting this feedback.

How will I access books that are in Keep@Downsview?

All titles that are transferred to Keep@Downsview will continue to be discoverable through the Library's catalogue. Using the catalogue, users will be able to borrow books just as they can currently with all other storage collections. Books may be borrowed for personal use or placed on course reserve. The delivery of requested materials will not normally take longer than two-working days. Requests for individual chapters from a book may be delivered to users as a scanned PDF.

Serendipitous discovery is important for my field. How will I be able to browse books at Keep@Downsview?

The new Library catalogue includes an innovative feature that allows users to virtually browse bookshelves using call numbers. While we recognize this may not perfectly replicate existing methods of browsing in person, it has the advantage of revealing materials across all locations, including those that are currently on loan, thus providing a more comprehensive view of materials available from Western Libraries' collection within a discipline. Other users working and searching from off campus and at a distance will also benefit from the advantages of the virtual browse feature.

How will I access journals that are in Keep@Downsview?

Journal articles will generally be provided via desktop delivery, a scanned PDF of the article, in the same way that scans can be requested from our print journals in our local high-density storage facility (ARCC). If necessary, physical volumes can be shipped back to campus, but we anticipate this will be a relatively rare need. As with books, all journals that are transferred to Keep@Downsview will continue to be discoverable through the Library's catalogue.

Does Keep@Downsview affect recent purchases or new acquisitions for my department?

No, the selection and purchase of new books will continue as usual, and current issues of journals received in print will remain in campus libraries.

Doesn't the Library already have offsite storage?

The Library does use offsite storage located in London. While the facility offers a safe and secure environment for books, it was not specifically designed for long-term preservation. The Keep@Downsview facility provides a higher-quality environment for the long-term preservation of these materials and provides for a collaborative, shared approach to collections preservation and management that will benefit scholars for years to come.

Can I use books or journals that Western doesn't own but are added to Keep@Downsview by the other partner libraries?

Yes. These items will be available via interlibrary loans request in the same way as items from the partners' on-campus libraries.

Community members can currently read Western's books by coming to the library. Will they be able to access titles that are in Keep@Downsview?

Yes. Community members may continue to access materials from Western's collection held at Keep@Downsview. Items may be obtained using Interlibrary Loan from the requestor's home library and checked out according to regular Interlibrary Loan policies. Library staff at Western may also request that volumes be sent to one of the campus libraries for community members to use on-site or to check out in accordance with existing borrowing privileges. Volumes transferred to Keep@Downsview have been identified as low-use materials and we do not anticipate great community interest in these volumes.

Where can I get more information?

If you have further questions, please contact Harriet Rykse, Associate Chief Librarian,