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£9.84 million awarded to safeguard UK's research journals and provide central access point for academic community

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has announced £9.84 million of funding for a groundbreaking collaboration between higher education libraries led by Imperial College London and the British Library following a successful 18-month pilot. The funding will enable the creation of the UK Research Reserve (UKRR).

UKRR is an agreement between higher education and the British Library whereby the British Library will store low-use journals for the HE community and make them accessible to researchers and others using state-of-the-art ordering and delivery systems.

The UKRR will safeguard the long term future of printed research journals. Low-use journals will be stored and maintained at the British Library, enabling quick and easy access to research materials. Building on the strengths of the British Library's document supply service, researchers can choose to access journal articles in printed or electronic format. The British Library will ensure efficient use of resources allowing universities to reclaim the space from journal storage and re-purpose it for new opportunities, for example research and learning. By the end of the five-year programme 100 km of shelf space will have been released, amounting to capital savings of £29 million.

Dame Lynne Brindley DBE, Chief Executive of the British Library, says: "The British Library is delighted with this HEFCE funding announcement. It marks an important new level in our relationship with the higher education community, strengthens our existing collaborations and represents an important new national shared service. The award recognises our key role in supporting university libraries to meet the changing needs of researchers, and safeguarding research material for future access."

Imperial College will be managing the scheme in conjunction with the British Library. Deborah Shorley, Director of Library Services at Imperial, said: "The UKRR is a fantastic example of HEFCE, Imperial and the British Library working together to produce a better and more coherent way to access research material. It addresses the problem of libraries up and down the country with duplicate copies of low use periodicals and will offer a more sophisticated approach to providing information for the UK's research community."

Professor David Eastwood, Chief Executive of the HEFCE, said: "Collaboration between higher education and the British Library is at the heart of our national research resources. This outstanding project demonstrates the huge benefits that are possible when different parts of the HE sector and the British Library work together. By investing around £10 million, very substantial savings will be made by releasing much-needed library space, while at the same time providing enhanced access to information resources for the researchers. This is a shared services project that truly demonstrates what can be achieved in the HE sector."

Naomi Weston | alfa
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