Information ServicesPrint retention within Scotland

The Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries (SCURL), the National Library of Scotland (NLS) and the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) have collaborated to develop and now revise this policy which regards the print collections of libraries in Scotland.


The aim of the print retention policy is to ensure that researchers, in the broadest sense, continue to have access to print materials in Scotland.

Scottish libraries are working in collaboration to preserve and maintain distributed access to print and digital material for the people of Scotland. This collaboration is effected through the access policies agreed by SCURL, SLIC, and the National Library of Scotland, and in collaboration with UK print projects.

Although the policy is likely to be of most relevance to Higher Education libraries, it is recognised that significant research materials are held in the wider Scottish library community.

The distinct cultural identity of Scotland manifests in the separate educational, legal, and governance systems that supports a Scottish Last Copy retention policy. It represents the intellectual output and collective national memory of Scotland.

The policy offers libraries a recognised mechanism to manage the national disposal of nationally duplicated material. This broader, more inclusive, approach will sit alongside local collection policies which have been and are dependent on the mission, teaching and research of the parent institutions.

The print retention policy acknowledges ongoing opportunities for digitisation by institutions that hold rare items or significant collections. It is proposed that attention should be given to an extension of this Scottish retention policy to non-print materials. This Policy acknowledges ongoing developments at a UK-wide level, regarding print monographs and journals.

Retaining and preserving the Scottish print collection

Given the above, Scottish libraries agree to make the following Commitment: -

A copy should be retained within Scotland of: -

  1. Scottish material in any language including material:
    1. published in Scotland
    2. published outside Scotland by Scots
    3. about Scots
    4. relating to Scotland
    5. relating to any aspect of Scottish life and culture
    6. or to individual Scots

Such material represents the intellectual output and collective national memory of Scotland.

Unique or scarce items without a Scottish connection in Scottish libraries should be retained for communal access and benefit. Libraries choosing to remove these items may offer them to other Scottish libraries. However, there is no mandate for retention. In these cases, local print retention policies take precedence.

Guidelines for the workflow supporting this policy

Retaining items meeting the criteria listed above for Scottish Connection

  • Items should be identifiable in publicly available local and shared discovery systems through use of the 583 metadata field. The CCM group has established standard wording for the field for this purpose. See Appendix A.
  • Copac Suncat

Withdrawn items meeting the criteria listed above for Scottish connection:

  • If the NLS does not own a print copy offer it directly to them through the Acquisitions unit.
  • If the NLS owns a copy, the item may be offered to another Scottish library.

Withdrawn items NOT meeting the criteria listed above:

  • An offer may be made to other libraries, but if not accepted follow local collection management policies.

This policy is to be reviewed every five years. Last reviewed 2019.