The BIG Collection Introduction

The BIG Collection Introduction




Uniting the Collections

The Power of BTAA Collaboration—the Power of the BIG Collection

In a historic and unprecedented maneuver for a group of independent universities, the University Library Deans and Directors of the Big Ten 91Ƶ have committed to managing the separate collections of the Big Ten university libraries as a single collection.

Intentional and strategic coordination enabling a networked approach will ensure the collective good, leveraging the true breadth of these remarkable libraries’ collections, while allowing individual libraries to focus more deeply on distinctive collections and services focused on local areas of strength and expertise. People are the heart of this initiative. By joining our strengths, we have the opportunity to create something more powerful than the sum of our parts. Articulating the needs of the whole, we will coordinate holistic action to elevate the collective interest and the greater good.

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. The BIG Collection stands on the shoulders of a rich, well-developed community with decades of successful initiatives and cooperative endeavors. The BIG Collection is the lead idea, the center of gravity for all Big Ten library activity. 

Deepening the Network of Trust

Building on decades of trusted cooperation

The BIG Collection Initiative will leverage collective resources across the Big Ten 91Ƶ libraries in order to:

  • Create a more seamless network environment for users, through policies and technologies that ensure universal availability of content, enhanced discovery of resources, and generate a frictionless path from searching for resources to their ultimate delivery.
  • Expand existing 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 and digital collections through policies to guarantee sufficient copies are retained and through coordinated investments in preservation and digitization to ensure sustained access.

Motivated by a commissioned from OCLC, the Big Ten 91Ƶ 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 Collection of the Big Ten 91Ƶ to support the premier institutions we serve.

Securing a Sustainable Future

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

  • 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;
  • Provide seamless access for librarians and staff for decision support and collection management and ILL data and information;
  • Build a culture of deep collaboration and interdependence at all levels of library services.

The University Library Deans and Directors of the Big Ten universities are leading the overall effort, with coordination provided by the BIG Collection 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. 


Questions about the project may be directed to:

  • Maurice York, Director Library Initiatives, Big Ten 91Ƶ
  • Marian Leon, Assistant Director for the BIG Collection, Library Initiatives, Big Ten 91Ƶ
  • Damon Jaggars, Chair, Big Ten 91Ƶ Library Deans, Vice Provost and Director of University Libraries, Ohio State University