Shared print preservation through membership in Keep@Downsview

Updated: June 2022

Memorial University Libraries became an associate member of the Keep@Downsview partnership in September 2021 as part of its ongoing efforts to improve long-term collection preservation and access through creative and innovative management strategies. 

The Queen Elizabeth II Library began examining its low use journal backruns for inclusion in the Keep@Downsview preservation and access program in February 2022. To date 755 journals across all disciplines have been evaluated. 

From those journals we have identified 1,900 volumes not already held in the Downsview collection. These volumes will be Memorial University Libraries first contribution to the shared collection housed in the Downsview preservation facility.

Through the same process we are using to identify volumes for contribution we have also identified 3,100 volumes which have already been contributed by another partner library. Having considered the options outlined below for duplicated journal volumes we have determined that recycling is the most responsible option. That process will begin over the summer of 2022.

Access to any journal content not held locally is available through the document delivery network of which the shared collection at Downsview is part.

For more details please see below or contact Memorial University Libraries Collection Strategies Division at

Learn more about Memorial University Libraries’ membership in Keep@Downsview:

What is Keep@Downsview?

Keep@Downsview is a collaborative endeavor between the University of Toronto, the University of Ottawa, Western University, McMaster University, Queen’s University and Memorial University designed to preserve and provide access to low use print materials. This shared collection of single copy low use material is stored in a purpose-built, high-density preservation facility located at the University of Toronto’s Downsview Campus in North Toronto. Memorial is the first to belong to a new category of membership in Keep@Downsview called Associate.

Why is Memorial University Libraries participating in Keep@Downsview?

Over the years, Memorial University Libraries, like research libraries elsewhere, has acquired a sizeable collection of print books and journals. Studies of the usage patterns conducted over many years using a variety of methodologies at different institutions have demonstrated that large portions of these print collections are never or seldom used after many years on library shelves.

We believe that it is important for these low use collections to remain available in support of the long-term research and educational activities of Memorial’s academic community. Participating in Keep@Downsview allows us to ensure that this occurs while also creating space within the Libraries to offer new print acquisitions, foster new types of scholarship and library service, and support both collaborative and individual work.

How do I access books that are in storage at Keep@Downsview?

All books that become part of the Downsview shared collection will continue to appear in OneSearch. You can request access via the Request link. Library staff will then arrange supply from Downsview, or another library, whichever is quickest.

How do I access journals that are in storage at Keep@Downsview?

Journal articles are generally provided via a scanned PDF. If necessary, physical volumes will be supplied. As with books, any journal volumes that become part of the Downsview collection will continue to appear in the library’s catalogue. Access can be arranged via the Request link.

Does Keep@Downsview affect recent purchases or new acquisitions for my faculty or department?

No. The selection and purchase of new books continues as usual, and current issues of journals received in print will remain in the libraries.

What criteria will be used to identify books and journals for inclusion in the Keep@Downsview program?

Several criteria will be applied when identifying books appropriate for the Keep@Downsview program including year of publication, time on the library shelf and circulation data. For example, in 2007, the QEII Library selected books for offsite storage that had been published prior to 1970, had been in the library and available to be discovered for at least 12 years, and had never been checked out. Books which are more likely to be used in-library, such as reference materials, large format books such as art books and multi-volume works, require additional consideration. Experienced librarians will develop and apply these criteria by drawing on their understanding of how collections are used by faculty and students within distinct academic disciplines.

Rare books and unique items in special collections are not under consideration for the Keep@Downsview program.

Journals require a different approach. In identifying print journals appropriate for the Keep@Downsview program criteria such as whether the subscription is active, the availability of stable, owned online back-files, the age and condition of volumes, the language of the journal, and the subject area covered will be considered.

What will happen if a copy of a book or journal from Memorial Libraries is not already in the Downsview collection?

When a book or journal volume which has met our criteria for inclusion in the Keep@Downsview program and is not already part of the shared collection, it will be transferred to the Downsview preservation facility. Records for these books and journal volumes will remain in the Memorial Library’s catalogue and you can request access via the Request link.

What will happen if a copy of a book or journal from Memorial Libraries is already in the Downsview collection?

When a book that meets our criteria for inclusion in the Keep@Downsview program is already held in the Downsview collection and therefore is available, Memorial Libraries may choose to remove the local copy from library shelves. This is one way in which space for new content can be created. Memorial is assessing the options for withdrawn copies considering our new participation in Keep@Downsview. Until that assessment is complete, all copies will be retained.

One option is resale through Better World Books. Memorial Libraries has availed of this business/social venture in the past to permit the resale of books donated to the library but not added to our collection. It would also be available to us for books withdrawn from our local collection. Worth noting is that Better World Books pays the cost of shipping and donates a portion of resale profits to literacy initiatives around the world.

There are exceptions to the content Better World Books accepts. Journal volumes are one such exception. The market for print journals has diminished greatly in the last decade as publishers and organizations such as JSTOR have made digitized back issues available. Libraries do occasionally share lists of journal volumes to be withdrawn from their collections, but where once there was interest in full runs, the remaining interest is in select volumes another library requires to fill gaps in their existing holdings.  The Internet Archive negotiates with libraries for the supply of journal volumes, and other formats often not accepted by Better World Books, which it eventually digitizes. We will be exploring this option as well. 

The carbon footprint of all these efforts must be taken into consideration. There are environmental as well as financial costs to shipping print. The text block of most books and journals is recyclable. This may be the most responsible option for copies for which there is no further need. 

As mentioned, Memorial is assessing the options for withdrawn copies considering our new participation in Keep@Downsview. Until that assessment is complete, all copies will be retained.

Are there any parts of the Libraries' collection that will not be considered?

Yes, there are several areas of the Library’s collection and some specific types of materials that will not be considered for the Keep@Downsview program:

  • New and recently acquired books and current issues of journals that we receive in print.
  • Many indexes and bibliographies, particularly large ongoing works that would be difficult to retrieve effectively from storage, will be kept onsite as finding tools.
  • Multi-volume monographs will not normally be split between locations, and reference-type publications would need specific consideration as they often are more easily used within the Library.
  • A number of special formats are beyond the current scope of the program, including LPs, CDs, DVDs, and other audiovisual materials; music scores; sheet maps; and microfilm and microfiche.

Can I provide input on materials being considered?

We welcome your thoughts about materials in your discipline so that we can factor them into our decision-making process. The Library will be arranging consultations but please feel free to contact us at

Will Memorial University Libraries retain ownership of the materials even though the Keep@Downsview facility is managed by the University of Toronto?

Yes, Memorial University will retain its ownership of material included in the Keep@Downsview program. All of these volumes will continue to appear in OneSearch and will be included in the statistics that we provide to various reporting bodies. Because partners can take shared ownership in any volume part of the program, the Library is committing to permanent transfer.

Can I use books or journals that Memorial doesn't own but are added to Keep@Downsview by the other partner libraries?

Yes. These items won’t appear in OneSearch, but the Downsview collection is available via Document Delivery.  

Doesn’t the library already have offsite storage?

Yes. The Library currently has approxmately 230,000 volumes in local commercial storage. Keep@Downsview provides a better environment for the long-term preservation of these materials while maintaining access through existing processes. Here is a CTV news item about Keep@Downsview.

Community members can currently read Memorial University Libraries’ books by coming to the library. Can they access titles that are in Downsview?

Yes. Community members can continue to have access to materials from Memorial’s collection that become part of the Downsview collection. The current process for requesting and using any material not held in the library would remain in place.

Where can I get more information?

If you have further questions, please contact Memorial University Libraries Collection Strategies Division at

Memorial’s research and student community can access a Shared Print Presentation by collections librarian, Louise White.