Liberal Arts Colleges

How Portico has helped colleges protect their investment in e-resources

Preservation and the Print-to-Digital Transition

Across academic libraries, demand for electronic journals and books has led to enormous growth in digital collections in recent years. Colby College and Vassar College librarians have seen a steady decline in use of their print collections, and have been working to free up shelf space by moving print offsite. Clem Guthro, director of libraries at Colby College, notes that having a preservation strategy in place is critical when de-accessioning print and building electronic resources. “As you downsize the number of physical copies, there really has to be a sense that this stuff is available in a secure digital format,” comments Guthro. “Without that, making a secure transition from reliance on print resources to reliance on electronic resources would be impossible.”

Whose Responsibility is Digital Preservation?

Colby College and Vassar College, like many liberal arts colleges with concerted preservation efforts, demonstrate an important point about modern librarianship: digital preservation is not the exclusive purview of large institutions like the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) members. All institutions, from small teaching institutions to large research universities, have an active stake in the preservation of scholarship. Each institution needs to protect its own investment.

Without a digital preservation solution strategy, librarians risk losing access to their investment in e-resources due to format obsolescence, failing platforms, or organizations ceasing operation. Sabrina Pape, library director at Vassar College, says, “Preservation has always been a core part of our mission, and we need to protect our electronic content for future Vassar students and scholars.” By implementing their own digital preservation strategy, Pape knows that Vassar’s electronic resources will be there for the long-term.

Why Portico. Why Now.

By participating in Portico, Vassar can meet student demand for electronic resources and feel secure doing it. “We were concerned about our move to electronic journals without a preservation strategy,” says Pape. “And when Portico came along, it was a great relief. It was like our insurance policy. We used it to make the move to electronic.

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