Frequently Asked Questions about Retention Commitments

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding retention commitments.  Please be sure to also read the EAST Major Operating Policies and the Operating Procedure: Replacing Lost or Damaged Items with Retention Commitments, as the information in these documents will answer many questions. Additional information about where to find retained items is available in the Retention Commitments page. Detailed information about the Reallocation Process, including procedures and timelines, can be found in the EAST Reallocation Process page.

Access and Replacement

1. We've identified an EAST retained item we think should be moved to special collections. Is this acceptable?

While it’s understandable that you might want to consider relocating a rare item to special collections or restrict access to fragile materials, EAST retained materials should be held as an accessible “light archive” with volumes available for circulation to other EAST libraries. This guaranteed access is essential in order for EAST members to rely on retention commitments. However, if moving the item to special collections is unavoidable, please investigate whether it’s possible to find an additional retention copy.  These titles can be included in the EAST reallocation process.  (EAST Reversal and Reallocation Requests Form)

2. Are there limitations regarding placing EAST retained items on reserve?

EAST retained items should be available for circulation to other EAST members, but we understand that there may be times when an item is required to be placed on reserve. We ask that in situations where you also own a second copy you consider not placing this copy on reserve.

If a title has a history of being on reserve, will be on reserve for longer than a semester, on permanent reserve, or is likely to be a candidate for reserve in the future, you should consider not de-accessioning additional copies or investigating whether it’s possible to find a replacement retention copy, including from another EAST Retention Partner. The Find EAST Holdings search can assist in the process.

The Operational Contact for each Retention Partner is available via the Operations link on the sidebar.


3. Is there an expectation that we automatically replace our missing retained items?  What is the process for reporting missing items?   

Yes, it is expected that missing items you’ve committed to retain for EAST will be replaced.  If the item is able to be replaced with a copy with the same OCLC number there is no need to report the change. If an item is not able to be replaced due to cost or availability, or is being replaced by a different edition, please report the old and new OCLC numbers.* 

While replacing the missing title holdings is the preferred route, if there are items your library has decided not to replace locally (e.g. because it's too expensive or not consistent with collection policies), please follow the semi-annual reallocation process as described here.  All changes to EAST retentions should be reported using the EAST Reallocations Request Form.

4. When replacing a missing or damaged copy of a book, do I need to notify EAST of the changed barcode and/or bib record number? Are there directions for how to mark a replacement copy?

As long as the OCLC number remains the same, EAST does not need to know about local changes.  As always, when changing a retention commitment to a different instance make sure that the 583 information is associated with the new holding in your local catalog.  See also EAST 583 Best Practices.  


5. If there are a handful of books a month that we can't buy a replacement for should we handle it ourselves by trying to identify another EAST library that owns the title and transferring the retention commitment to them?

You may contact other libraries which hold the title or  follow the semi-annual reallocation process as described here, whichever is easier for you.


6. We’ve found moldy/water damaged/unrecoverable holdings with retention commitments.

Sorry to hear it! If the material is already held under retention at another EAST library, then yes, you may remove the retention commitment.  If it is the only copy held in retention in EAST, an attempt should be made to either acquire the material or add it to the semi annual reallocation process described here.


*NOTE on reporting OCLC number and/or holding institution changes to EAST:

When making changes in retention commitments that involve new OCLC numbers and/or changes in holding institution, please report these changes using the EAST Reversal and Reallocation Requests Form. This process will change once the  OCLC registration service is fully functional, projected to be Spring 2020.  It is assumed that any changes in retention commitments will also be reflected in a library’s local catalog.  - 8/10/2019

Retention and Transfers

7. We’ve identified a category of materials that have retention commitments but that we consider out of scope for this project and not worthy of retention.  What should we do?

Partners that identify categories of materials they determine to be out of scope, e.g.  textbooks, handbooks, manuals, ephemera (see scope definition) may request the removal of their retention commitment from the EAST retentions database using the EAST Reversal and Reallocation Requests Form.

See also the “Revoking Retention Commitments Determined to be Out of Scope” section of the EAST Major Operating Policies. This document is also available from the EAST website under Policies & MOU.


8. We’ve discovered that the bibliographic data for an item for which we have a retention commitment does not match the book on the shelf.  Can we withdraw the retention commitment?

If the material is already held under retention at another EAST library, then yes, you may request the removal of the retention commitment using the EAST Reversal and Reallocation Requests form.   (Use the Find EAST Holdings tool to identify other holders of the material.)  If the mismatch is only the edition, and no other EAST libraries retain the edition you hold, please keep the retention, and notify EAST of the change of edition/oclc number (email to    If it is the only copy held in retention in EAST, an attempt should be made to either acquire the material if feasible, or add it to the semi annual reallocation process described here.   

8.5. We’ve discovered EAST retention commitments on materials that are not under the library’s direct control, e.g. a departmental library. 

You may remove retention commitments on these materials, and submit the list to the reallocation process:

9. How long does my institution have access to GreenGlass?
EAST institutions that participated in the collection analysis have access to their institutional version of GreenGlass until January 31, 2021.   All EAST members also have access to an instance of GreenGlass that contains only the EAST retention commitments until January 31, 2021.

10. Our library did not take part in the collection analysis and does not have an institutional login to GreenGlass. We are interested in weeding based on EAST retention commitments.  How can we discover if a title that we own has a retention commitment at another library?

As of March 2018 you can use an instance of GreenGlass for EAST retention commitments (email for login information) or by using the EAST Retentions Database.   The EAST Project Team is also exploring other solutions, and is awaiting more information on disclosure and discovery in WorldCat.  Several EAST WMS Libraries have begun registering commitments in WorldCat, so you may see some there also.

11. We’ve identified a print monograph title we feel should be committed to retain for EAST.

We encourage EAST Retention Partners to proactively make commitments to print monograph titles they feel should be retained for EAST. A good example is when you’ve already committed to retain volumes 1-8 in a prospective 10 volume set and you decide to acquire volumes 9 and 10. However, your library is under no obligation to make commitments on newly acquired materials.


12. We see multiple copies of the same titles on our retention lists.  Do we need to retain all copies?  

According to the EAST Major Operating Policies, “Retention Partners are required to retain only  one copy of titles they have been allocated a commitment to retain.” While retention lists may contain multiple copies of the same title, it is up to each library’s discretion which copy, or multiple copies, are retained. Note that SCS allocated retentions at the title level, so retaining more or fewer copies of an individual title does not change the total number of title level commitments to EAST.

13. Do we need to keep all volumes of a multi-volume set?

Libraries are responsible for retaining all volumes of multi volume sets that have been assigned retention commitments to their library.    Libraries may or may not have been assigned an entire set, depending on their holdings at the time retentions were set.  Libraries may voluntarily add retention commitments to additional volumes as they are acquired, but are not required to do so.


14. If an item which had the retention commitment is missing, can the retention commitment be transferred to a different edition of the same title?  Does this same protocol apply if there is difference in publication date or publisher?

Every effort should be made to replace missing material with the same edition, including from another EAST Retention Partner.  Use the Find EAST Holdings tool to identify other holders of the material. This is especially important if the edition has any unique characteristics such as prefaces and/or commentary.  Artifactual copies of the title are always preferred, but print facsimiles are acceptable.  It is only acceptable to transfer the commitment to a different edition of the title in situations where the retention copy is missing, there isn’t another copy of the same edition available within EAST, or the material is determined to be equivalent.   We are trusting members to use their professional judgement in determining if a different edition is functionally equivalent for the retention commitment.

It is also acceptable to do this with a holding with a different publication date or publisher when necessary, following the guidelines above.  Please see the Operating Procedure: Replacing Lost or Damaged Items with Retention Commitments document for further information.

Note that EAST Retention Partners may already hold several editions of the same title.

If you make this change, please report the old and new OCLC numbers.*


15. If a bibliographer orders a new print edition of a book and indicates the earlier edition can be withdrawn, but that earlier edition has been designated an EAST retention commitment copy, do we have to keep the older edition or can we transfer the retention note to the newer edition?

The acceptability of replacing an older item with a newer edition is highly dependent the materials being replaced. Out of scope materials need not have a retention commitment (see FAQ #7). If the material is in scope, please refer to the Replacing Editions document for examples of what is and is not acceptable.

Note: If the new edition is an electronic edition, please retain the older print edition.


16. How do I transfer a retention commitment to another holdings record?  How does EAST keep track of these changes?

It is the responsibility of individual member libraries to have a process for recording retention commitments in their local catalogs.  See the EAST 583 Working Group site for guidance on using the MARC 583 field in holdings records for this purpose.  EAST does not need to be informed about retention commitments being transferred to different copies of the same title with the same OCLC number.  


17. Per the EAST Major Operating Policies document, Retention Partners needing to transfer large numbers of retention commitments should follow the EAST Reallocation of Retention Commitments Process. How do you define large numbers?

Large is when it is no longer practical for a library to manually search catalogs and databases to identify retention commitments and holdings at other EAST libraries.  Libraries should submit requests using the  EAST Reversal and Reallocation Request form, and provide a spreadsheet of materials which includes the OCLC numbers they wish to transfer and the reason for the request.   (See Sample Spreadsheet.)

Questions regarding this process should be directed to


18. We are transferring some EAST materials to a shared storage facility.  Can we transfer the retention commitments?

According to the EAST Memorandum of Understanding section 5.1 :

“Retention Partners agree not to sell, discard, donate, or otherwise relinquish ownership or control of any of the retained materials prior to the end of the Retention Period, except to transfer materials to another EAST Retention Partner or with permission of the Executive Committee.”

Therefore, if the shared storage facility is an EAST Retention Partner (e.g. the Five Colleges) and extends lending to all EAST members, materials can be transferred. Retention commitments should be updated in the 583 fields in the local ILS, perhaps adding a 561 field to denote the original holder of the material, and a list of OCLC numbers transferred should be reported to EAST*.  

19.  We've found some EAST retained material that have accompanying media (floppy discs / CD-ROMs).   Are we required to keep the media?  If the media is missing, should we request reallocation of the material to another library?

While accompanying media may be of academic interest, it is beyond the scope of EAST, and need not be retained.  If accompanying media is missing, there is no need to request reallocation.



*NOTE on reporting OCLC number and/or holding institution changes to EAST:

When making changes in retention commitments that involve new OCLC numbers and/or changes in holding institution, please report these changes using the EAST Reveral and Reallocation Requests Form. This process will change once the  OCLC registration service is fully functional, projected to be Spring 2020.  It is assumed that any changes in retention commitments will also be reflected in a library’s local catalog.  - 6/10/2019

Overlap with other programs

20. We’ve found many books under retention that are HathiTrust public domain titles.  Do we have to keep them?

Yes.  While the EAST collection analysis working group did discuss using HathiTrust as a criteria in the retention model, they decided to retain materials regardless, as EAST is focused on preserving original print copies, and it would be inconsistent with this goal to potentially withdraw material based on largely unverified digitized copies.

Government Documents

21. We’ve found some U.S.  and international government documents on our retention list.  Do we have to keep them?

No.  Both U.S. and international government documents retention are out of scope for EAST.  Other programs are addressing retention and preservation of print government documents.  Please use the EAST Reversal and Reallocation Requests form to request changes to retention commitments. 

Serials and Journals

22. We noticed a JSTOR title in our list of serials retentions, how should we proceed?

Titles available in JSTOR are out of scope for EAST Serials Retentions, so your institution is not obligated to retain these titles in print on behalf of EAST, unless your institution has explicitly decided to do so, e.g. Five Colleges Inc.  

23. We’ve received our retention proposal for serial and journal titles: are we required to check our shelves to validate that the titles are present?

No, we understand that it’s not feasible for all EAST members to carry out such work. However, based on the experiences of those libraries that have carried out shelf checks it can be useful to confirm that you actually own a title you are committing to retain, that the physical holdings match those recorded in the ILS (and submitted for the collection analysis), and material is in a usable/readable condition. 

Guidance for carrying out validation (both at the volume and issue level) can be found in our Member Resources.

24. How did EAST go about analyzing serial and journal titles?

EAST contracted with the the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) to carry out a comparison of participating libraries’ serials and journals collections. CRL provided spreadsheet reports which showed holdings overlap, subjects, languages, electronic availability, OCLC WorldCat holdings, availability in JSTOR, format, and retention commitments from other shared print programs (including Rosemont). This data was loaded into the visualization software Tableau to assist the EAST Serials and Journals Working Group in analyzing the plethora of data provided.

25. How were serial and journal titles assigned for EAST retention?

Using collection comparison reports produced by the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) a Serials & Journals Working Group analyzed the collections of the participating EAST libraries and considering factors such as holdings levels within EAST, OCLC WorldCat holding levels, JSTOR availability, format, commitments from other shared print programs, and subjects agreed on a set of retention models. These models were approved by Voting Members at participating libraries and the EAST Executive Committee. CRL applied the retention rules to the collective collection and allocated retention responsibility to individual libraries, which then had the opportunity to review their retention proposals and report which specific titles they would agree to retain.

26. What material is out of scope for EAST serials and journals retention?

The EAST Serials and Journals Working Group agreed the following material are not currently in-scope for EAST retention:

reference works monographic series


government documents

newspapers directories
JSTOR titles loose-leaf reference works
handbooks almanacs
non-print formats yearbooks
indexes fact books

27. Why did EAST decide to first focus on titles held by 4-6 EAST Serials and Journals Retention Partners?

The first group of titles the Working Group focused on included titles held by 4-6 of the participating libraries. These “medium rare” title were felt to be most at risk of loss from the collective collection as libraries moved on to withdrawing these titles, having already weeded more widely-held titles. Additionally, as only three libraries were allocated responsibility for each title this model provided withdrawal opportunities at those libraries that were not allocated a retention commitment.

28. How can we identify which serial and journal titles our library and other EAST members have committed to EAST?

Per EAST policy, EAST members are expected to record their commitments in their local ILS (guidance for adding commitments is available in EAST Member Resources). Libraries can also find their own commitments and those of other EAST members in the EAST Retentions Database. EAST retention commitments for serials and journals are also recorded in Center for Research Libraries’ Print Archives and Preservation Registry (PAPR) alongside commitments from the major shared print programs in North America, including our fellow Rosemont Shared Print Alliance members.  Additional the Find EAST Holdings tool may be used to find additional EAST retention parnters holding the material. 

29. Are EAST commitments for serials and journals currently recorded in OCLC WorldCat?

No, unfortunately EAST is currently unable to register record serials and journals commitments in OCLC WorldCat as the software does not support multi-part titles. However, OCLC and the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) are currently working on an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supported project to enhance the underlying infrastructure of both the WorldCat database and CRL’s Print Archives Preservation Registry (PAPR) to accommodate and make accessible actionable data for shared print serials management. OCLC plan to have this work completed in Spring 2020.  The one exception to this are EAST WMS libraries, whose retentions have been recorded in WorldCat. 

30. Are we expected to replace lost or damaged serial and journal issues?

No, replacement is not required for these material types, but EAST members are encouraged to donate their copies to Retention Partners to help fill gaps and should always inform the EAST Project Team when a title or volume is no longer being retained.

31. We’ve added more issues of a serial and journal title we are retaining for EAST, are we expected to extend our EAST commitment to these newer issues?

No, the EAST retention commitment is only to the issues the library held at the time of agreeing commitment not to any future issues. Any libraries that voluntarily decides to extend the retention commitment to newly acquired issues should follow EAST guidance for updating the holdings statement in their local ILS and PAPR.

32. Are we required to continue collecting issues of a title we’ve retained for EAST?

No, libraries are not required to continue collecting issues of title they’ve retained for EAST, but we do ask that libraries consider filling gaps in their holdings if they are contacted by other EAST libraries wishing to withdraw issues or volumes of the title.

33. We understand that EAST is a member of the Rosemont Shared Print Alliance.  What exactly is Rosemont?

The Rosemont Shared Print Alliance is a collaboration of regional programs interested in coordinating their efforts on a larger scale to ensure the retention of and access to print journal backfiles. The current participants are the:

  • Big Ten Academic Alliance Shared Print Repository (CICBTAA-SPR)
  • Eastern Academic Scholars' Trust (EAST)
  • Florida Academic Libraries Repository (FLARE)
  • Scholars Trust
  • Western Regional Storage Trust (WEST)

EAST representatives sit on the Rosemont Operations Committee and Executive Committee. For a description of Rosemont’s goals and activities see the Alliance’s Roadmap.

34. Our library is not a EAST Serials and Journals Retention Partner.  Are we still expected to provide access to our serials and journals collection to EAST and Rosemont partners?

No, while we encourage all libraries to provide access to their collections, there are no requirements for “monograph only” EAST Retention Partners to make their serial and journal holdings available to other EAST or Rosemont Shared Print Alliance members.

35. Are EAST Serials and Journals Retention Partners expected to lend monographs as well as serial and journal titles to Rosemont members?

No, the Rosemont Shared Print Alliance is focussed solely on serials and journals retention. As such, the expectation to make material accessible to fellow Rosemont members and the associated Rosemont Access Principles only applies to serial and journal titles, not print monographs.  As with all access, however, EAST encourages the member libraries to lend broadly across its circulating collection.

36. Are we required to lend titles we haven't committed to retain?

Serials and Journals Retention Partners agree to make EAST materials available for circulation to other EAST and Rosemont libraries. We support a principle of extending those borrowing privileges as broadly as possible, rather than limiting lending to EAST retained materials.

37. Are EAST Serials and Journals Retention Partners expected to provide physical delivery of items to our fellow EAST and Rosemont members?

No, electronic delivery is preferable, followed in preference by facsimiles of the original, and then physical delivery of volumes or issues on a case-by-case basis.

38. Are we required to provide free lending to our fellow EAST Serials and Journals Retention Partners and Rosemont members?

No.  While  we strongly encourage a policy of free lending between EAST Serials and Journals Retention Partners and Rosemont members, libraries may use their own institutional policies to fulfill requests, including charging fees (see EAST’s Best Practices for ILL).

39. How do I know which libraries are members of EAST and Rosemont?

A list of EAST and Rosemont member libraries can be found on the Rosemont website.


This page was last updated November 21, 2019.