In a historic and unprecedented maneuver for a group of independent universities, the University Library Deans and Directors of the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) have committed to managing the separate collections of Big Ten university libraries as a single collection. As part of this effort, MSU Dean of Libraries Joseph A. Salem, Jr. was appointed to the BIG Collection Steering Committee. The announcement was made by the Library Directors of the BTAA.
“The BIG Collection is really about collaboration, impact, and efficiency,” Salem said. “Together, the Big Ten Libraries account for 22 percent of the printed word in English. When we coordinate our efforts, we can increase that or more efficiently and economically share that same amount of material across the Big Ten. It’s really exciting to think about how a shared system will allow individual libraries to build specialized collections that can be used by everybody affiliated with the BTAA. This will increase access to materials for all of our users. It’s just a tremendous initiative!”
The objective of the BIG Collection is to create an environment for Big Ten faculty, staff and students in which content will be universally available to all without regard to which institution produced or purchased the resources and materials. The BIG Collection will be supported by interoperable services and systems at scale that rest on a foundation of shared infrastructure.
The Steering Committee will act as the umbrella for the initiative and the executive steward of resources and strategies. It will guide the BTAA in implementing successful infrastructure and policy to bridge the fifteen separate libraries of our universities toward being experienced and managed as one collection, fully networked – the BIG Collection.
As the overarching initiative to advance the commitment to a shared, interdependent future for the research libraries of the Big Ten, the BIG Collection is the lead idea, the center of gravity to align resources and activities across BTAA library initiatives. “The convening of the Steering Committee represents a significant step toward bringing shape and form to the vision of the BIG Collection,” said Maurice York, Director of Library Initiatives for the Big Ten Academic Alliance. “As a community and an alliance, we will collectively design the future that we want to see. This group is charged with thinking on behalf of the whole and holding the collective strategy. There is much more to come.”
Two important parts of this commitment are the Affordable Textbook Program, which offers students enrolled in certain courses with costly textbooks a way to read those books without buying them; and the Open Educational Resources (OER) program, which gives financial incentives to instructors to create or adapt OER course materials. In the 2019-20 academic year, the OER program created more than $1.4 million in cost savings and impacted more than 14,000 MSU students enrolled in courses using OER.