The BIG Collective Collection

Collection Timeline Main Ideas Stack2

In a historic and unprecedented maneuver for a group of independent universities, the University Library Deans and Directors of the Big Ten Academic Alliance have committed to managing the separate collections of the Big Ten university libraries as if they were a single collection.

To this end, the university libraries will implement the necessary systems, policies, and services needed to create an integrated user experience of the networked collections, from discovery to delivery. Individual libraries will continue to offer distinctive collections and services focused on local needs, but enabling a networked approach will ensure the collective good, leveraging these remarkable libraries’ collections.

The BIG Collective Collection Initiative will leverage collective resources across the Big Ten Academic Alliance libraries in order to:

● Create a more seamless network environment for users, through policies and technologies that enhance discovery of resources and generate a frictionless path from searching for resources to their ultimate delivery.

● Expand programs to coordinate prospective acquisitions (print and digital), building on the strengths of individual institutional collections and the purchasing power of the consortium; and

● Ensure the longevity of existing print collections through policies to guarantee sufficient copies are retained and through coordinated investments in preservation and digitization to ensure sustained access.

Motivated by a report commissioned from OCLC, the Big Ten Academic Alliance library directors have affirmed a vision for a “collective collection”:


“Going forward, we will orient our collective actions around the challenges and opportunities that come with interdependence and will implement the necessary systems, policies, and services needed to create an integrated user experience of the networked collections, from discovery to delivery. We will individually and collectively invest in strategies that transition our focus from building local collections to creating a shared, fully networked collection that supports our local students and scholars. With ever increasing rigor, we will manage the separate collections of the Big Ten as if they were a single shared collection, maximizing access to and ensuring the preservation of the scholarly record in support of our common mission. (signed by all Big Ten University Library Deans and Directors, September 2019)

Through collective action, we will create the BIG Collective Collection of the Big Ten Academic Alliance to support the premier institutions we serve.


BIG Collection 2020 Milestones

This is a complex and long-term process, and it may take years to realize the vision and all of the components. But deliberate steps are underway now to:

1) Identify the technical and policy adjustments necessary to implement a seamless experience for users to access the collections and make requests as if the collections were held locally;1

2) Move local collection decisions toward a coordinated, collaborative model of development;2

3) Build a culture of deep collaboration and interdependence at all levels of library services.3

The University Library Deans and Directors of the Big Ten universities are leading the overall effort, with coordination provided by three smaller working groups (Applications, Collections, and a Steering Committee).

This initiative builds on existing work in resource sharing, print archiving and joint digital acquisitions. The university libraries are currently examining models for transformative licensing agreements that will leverage existing investments in digital journals and other content, while improving access to information across the group of universities. 4


Questions about the project may be directed to:
  • Keith Marshall, Executive Director, Big Ten Academic Alliance
  • Sarah Pritchard, Chair, Big Ten Library Directors, and Dean of Libraries, Northwestern University

1 The BIG Collection Applications Committee is co-chaired by Damon Jaggars and Krisellen Maloney.

2 The BIG Collection Content Committee is chaired by Claire Stewart.

3 Steering Committee members Sarah Pritchard, Wendy Lougee*, Brenda Johnson, and John Culshaw and chairs of the Applications and Collections Committee. (1, 2)

4 The Transformative Agreement Committee is chaired by John Wilkin.

*Left the committee 2/27/2020 upon her retirement.

the BIG collection squares

The BIG Collection
Commitment to an Interdependent Future:
A Statement by the Big Ten Library Leadership

Discovery to Delivery



Sarah M. Pritchard
Dean of Libraries and Charles Deering McCormick University Librarian
Northwestern University
Phone: (847) 491-7640

Maurice York
Library Initiatives
Phone:  (217) 300-0945