PUL Librarians support OCLC project to enhance Library collaborations

How do art libraries support art scholarship? In response to the challenges created by limited budgets and the COVID-19 pandemic, OCLC embarked on Operationalizing the Art Research Collective Collection (OpArt), a project to help art libraries identify opportunities for beneficial partnerships around their collections, build effective collaborative structures, and navigate the practical challenges involved in making collaborations sustainable and successful.

Rebecca Friedman, Assistant Librarian, Marquand Library

At Princeton University Library (PUL), Rebecca Friedman, Assistant Librarian, Marquand Library, supported these efforts as part of the OpART advisory board from 2021 to 2023 along with seven colleagues from art research libraries. “I was asked to serve by Dennis Massie from OCLC who was involved with the project and has been coming to Art Libraries Society (ARLIS/NA) conferences for many years so I had gotten to know him via resource sharing circles initially,” Friedman said.

The OpArt group worked to support OCLC’s production of a pair of reports, one that shared recommendations for building successful library partnerships through case studies, and another that used WorldCat bibliographic data and WorldShare interlibrary loan data to quantitatively analyze library resource sharing.

“We had to collectively come up with a "proxy group" of libraries for our analysis of art research libraries,” Friedman said of the advisory process. “We had to consider collections to include or exclude, which subject areas were relevant as well as take a look at what types of collection materials were included in OCLC analysis and what the takeaways might be.”

She added, “My particular role was to advocate for the large academic art research library in this process and to emphasize our unique aspects, both Marquand's, as well as the Ivy Plus and Borrow Direct art libraries as a whole.”

With this project wrapped and the reports available online, Friedman hopes other libraries can take OCLC’s findings and apply them towards building fruitful partnerships. 

“This project will hopefully help other existing or potential collaborators to learn what works and what issues to keep in mind,” Friedman said. “It will certainly provide useful data for future partnerships that art libraries (and others) undertake going forward.”

Published on September 14, 2023

Written by Brandon Johnson, Communications Strategist

Media Contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communications