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An update on WEST Archive Builders

WEST is unique in its investment in what our program calls archive building. The majority of WEST Archivers agree to retain proposed titles and mark that commitment in the records’ metadata, which is then disclosed in program and public registries. This is significant work in itself, but there is also a small number of WEST members who further commit to engage in physical validation of higher-risk materials and the storage of those materials in climate-controlled, secure facilities. These members are known as Archive Builders. For the past eight years, six WEST members have served in this capacity: Rice University, Stanford University, University of Kansas, Arizona State University, UC Northern Regional Library Facility, and UC Southern Regional Library Facility. University of Oregon also archived titles as a Builder in WEST’s earliest cycles, but has since transitioned away from that role. We have grown accustomed and familiar with our six, current Archive Builders. The Builders have developed considerable expertise in the realm of shared print preservation and contributed significant resources to fulfill their responsibilities in WEST. Many of WEST’s members have likely received requests from one of the six Builders to contribute volumes to fill in the archived run. 

One key area of inquiry during WEST’s 2019 program assessment was archive building activities and future possibilities to refine and expand that work. Builders provided crucial insights which led to several strategic recommendations at the end of 2019. Further, quantitative analysis of Builder holdings data indicate that considerable progress has been made in archiving the majority of certain in-scope collections at several Builder institutions. 

One of those institutions is our valued Builder partner, Rice University. Rice has served as an Archive Builder in WEST for eight years and in that time has archived over 1,270 titles, representing close to 31,000 volumes. Rice staff have physically validated about 336 of those titles for completeness at the volume level and nearly twice that number (over 700 titles) at the issue level for completeness and condition. This represents an incredible amount of work to preserve and maintain an accurate and lasting print collection for WEST members. 

Rice has accomplished a great deal as a Builder partner in WEST and has now announced their intention of transitioning away from active archive building. Through assessment and analysis, our colleagues at Rice have concluded that their serials collection holds few additional priority targets for archiving in the future and that shifting library priorities are likely to have a direct impact on the staff dedicated to WEST processing. Rice will continue as an important WEST member who maintains, accepts gap-fills, and provides access to their archived titles per the agreements and standards governing WEST high-risk archives. The WEST Executive Committee and project team express their sincere appreciation for Rice’s long service in the area of archive building. 

The timing of this decision could not be more natural or aligned with our program’s evolution. We are currently in the process of executing the WEST strategic recommendation to recruit 2-4 additional Archive Builders in order to diversify the collections we analyze for those purposes and share the responsibilities of archiving building further in our community. Four WEST members have agreed to have their collections analyzed for building potential in Cycles 10 and 11 (FY21-FY23). The WEST Operations and Collections Council will review the results carefully and work with those members to assess an appropriate level of building participation in the future. It is an exciting time for WEST collections analysis and archive building!


If you have questions, please reach out to WEST Program Manager, Alison Wohlers (