The Eastern Academic Scholars' Trust (EAST) project is an evolving initiative that includes stakeholders across many institutions and reflecting various perspectives on the scholarly record.  As a result, this Frequently Asked Questions seciont is continually changes to reflect the project's evolution.  Should you have questions about the EAST project that are not addressed below, please feel free to contact the Project Director via email

(Last updated September, 2017)


Why is a project like EAST important?


Although electronic and digital content have become an increasingly large component of the collections of academic and research libraries, print collections continue to grow.  Given the breadth of digital access to library materials, many university administrators are reluctant to approve expansion of libraries to house print books. The result is that many libraries face, at best, no additional capacity to house new books, and, at worst, reduced capacity for their growing print collections. At the same time, these libraries area increasily looking to repurpose space and allocate what had traditionally been storage for physical materials to other uses: collaborative study spaces, makers' spaces, studies for work in digital humanities, instructional design in support of teaching, and more.

As print's passage to the future narrows, for all these reasons, we risk significant cultural losses if we fail to coordinate in managing the print record. This coordination is best done at scale after carefully and systematically analzing collections and understanding overlap as well as uniqueness.  EAST is focused on creating a coordinated shared print collection across academic and research libraries focused on protecting the scholarly record as represented in those libraries, allowing the participating libraries to continue collecting print in areas of current interest while supporting deselection of infrequently used holdings when necessary.  The long-term retention commitments made by their partners in EAST allow the scholars at these institutions to have confidence they will still be able to borrow the titles when needed, even if no longer available locally.  Such a formal shared print collection allows partner libraries to make informed decisions about whether to keep or withdraw individual holdings without risk that the last copy might unwittingly be discarded.  EAST creates a broad network focused on mutual benefits and services to its members.

How did EAST come about?

Plans for the Eastern Academic Scholars' Trust (EAST) were developed during an 18 month process in 2012-13 supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and involving some 100 academic and research libraries across the Northeast.  These libraries came together to develop a collaborative regional program to define and manage retention agreements for uniquely held and infrequently used scholarly monographs and journals.  In 2015, the Boston Library Consortium received funding from the Davis Educational Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to extend and expand upon this work by establishing the organizational infrastrucutre to support the EAST program, complete the large-scale colleciton analysis required to determine retention commitments, and further research into important issues relating to validation of shared print as well as develop recommended policies, governance and a business model for the ongoing sustainability of EAST. In 2017 EAST added a second cohort of libraries to the membership of EAST, allowing further expansion to the number of monograph titles committed to long term retention.   And, EAST begn to investigate retention models for serials and journal titles in addition to the work accomplished for monographs.  

What is the EAST business model?

While much of the initial funding for the organizational development and initial collection analysis for EAST has been grant funded, EAST has from its inception assumed it would become primarily self-sustaining.  All EAST members pay an annual membership fee and those who participated in the collection analysis were asked to contribute a portion to the cost of this analysis.  

From its inception, EAST envisioned growing beyond the original 47 member libraries and in 2017, an additional 13 libraries joined EAST as the Cohort 2 libraries.  Support for the collection analysis for Cohort 2 was provided through set-aside funding from both the original grant funding and EAST membership dues.  As more libraries join EAST in years to come, it is expected that the membership fees will ensure long term sustainability.