Frequently asked questions


  About UKRR

What is the UK Research Reserve?

The UK Research Reserve (UKRR) is a collaborative and co-operative programme to safeguard the long-term retention, preservation, and access to low use print journals within the Higher Education sector.

What is UKRR’s purpose?

The purpose of the UKRR is to provide support for libraries attempting to balance the needs of a new generation of users who value group study and IT facilities, with the need to protect the research contained within space-intensive low-use print journal collections.

Why bother keeping the print journals at all?

Despite often receiving little use, large back runs of journals still contain a wealth of knowledge which holding libraries are often obliged to continue providing access to. The increase of digital content means that many of these titles are now available online, however the long term stability of this form of access remains untested. By retaining a minimum number of print collections duplicated across multiple locations, the UKRR is helping libraries balance the need to secure long-term access with the desire to re-purpose this space.

What are the benefits of UKRR?

UKRR offers many benefits to participating libraries, such as:

  • Protecting the UK’s research base
  • Access to an enhanced document supply service from BLDSC
  • Releasing and repurposing space for users

What is the value of UKRR for HE libraries?

UKRR is an example of the move from a ‘Just in Case’ to a ‘Just in Time’ information management model – which fits the needs of a 21st century university library. It helps libraries make informed decisions about their collections and provides improved service delivery from the British Library.

How does it work?

The UKRR is a partnership between the British Library and the Higher Education sector.  Member libraries provide details of materials they wish to dispose of, and the UKRR coordinates the process of ensuring that sufficient copies of the journal are retained across the membership base.

Through holdings checks, gaps are filled in the British Library’s loanable collections ensuring complete runs of journals are held for the Research Reserve wherever possible. Two additional copies are then held in participating HE libraries, distributing the costs of continued storage.

Access to materials stored at the British Library is guaranteed by the British Library Document Supply Centre, which will deliver documents either electronically to the desktop, or to the BL reading rooms within 24 hours of receiving the request.

By joining the UKRR, libraries can de-duplicate their own collections and release space for other uses, secure in the knowledge that copies of this material will be available for researchers on demand.

UKRR is now in Phase 3, allowing members to submit material at different points in the UKRR schedule in order to fit in with their own collection development plans.

How is UKRR governed?

UKRR is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and is a partnership between Higher Education and the British Library; the lead institution is Imperial College London.

The programme is governed by an Advisory Board with representatives from the main stakeholders, including the academic community.  There is also a cross-sector UKRR Selection Panel which reviews applications from university libraries, and a retention mediation panel made up of SCONUL members and UKRR staff.


How much funding is available for UKRR?

For Phase 3, HEFCE has further awarded £1.14 million to UKRR.

  Joining UKRR

How do libraries join UKRR?

UKRR aims to work with all libraries who wish to de-duplicate print holdings responsibly and in an informed manner. If you are interested in taking part, please contact the UKRR team.

  Document supply

Are UKRR members automatically eligible for the 24 hour Document Supply Service?

Yes. All document supply requests are eligible for the premium document supply service. The service will be activated once your document supply accounts have been confirmed.

Is the enhanced document supply service limited to UKRR material?

No. UKRR members will benefit from the enhanced BL document supply service for all their document supply requests. The service is not limited to the material which they submit to UKRR.

Do UKRR holding libraries have any responsibility for document supply?

Libraries retaining material for UKRR do not have any greater responsibility for document supply than they would normally have within the existing channels of inter-library loan. The BL holds and is responsible for the principal document supply copy for the UK. The 2nd and 3rd copies held in the UKRR holding libraries exist in order to safeguard preservation .

Will there be any knock on effect on the BL document supply service?

No.  The BL has a dedicated UKRR team so their activity will not impact on the document supply service.


What material is in UKRR's scope?

UKRR covers print journals which satisfy the British Library’s definition of research material. This includes:

    Materials containing research reporting

    New findings

    Scientific experimental results

    Other information useful to researchers

This may include material such as yearbooks, annual reports and conference proceedings which the BL treats as serial material and deems the content as valuable.

What material is outside UKRR's scope?

Material excluded from UKKR includes monographs, teaching materials, popular fiction, newspapers, leisure journals, basic & how to texts, practical guides, maps, abstracts and indexes.

Are there UKRR selection criteria?

UKRR has a wide range of criteria and will particularly favour lists of material containing a good mix of long and short runs. Be aware that material more difficult to process e.g. non Roman scripts, journals without ISSNs etc, will take longer to process.

Can libraries offer short runs of material to UKRR?

Yes. As long as the short-run material is in proportion to the rest of the titles on offer, and that that the average title/space ratio for the entire list remains within the target parameters of 0.8 - 1.2 metres per title.

Does UKRR accept non-English Language material without ISSNs?

Yes. If the BL hold the titles then this material is in scope. Please note however that because of the complexity of this type of material the response could take longer to process. If you are considering submitting this type of material it would be preferable to receive a mixture of both English language, and non-English language items. If in any doubt then please contact UKRR.

Can UKRR libraries submit material which they consider to be in poor condition?

This depends if the poor condition is a result of wear and tear or contamination. If the condition is due to wear and tear it is acceptable to submit the material, as it is better to have a copy in poor condition than none at all. If you have material which is in poor condition please provide details when you submit it so that an informed decision can be made about whether to pursue it or not.

  UKRR Processes

How do libraries submit material?

Libraries identify material which they wish to deduplicate. The full holdings details, including the shelf measurements, are input into the template spreadsheet which is then submitted to UKRR. After holdings comparisons are done by the BL any requests for material to be transferred to the BL are made. The list is also checked against other UKRR holdings to establish whether the material is scarce. 

How often can lists be submitted?

UKRR conducts two cycles of activity each year, each taking 6 months to complete. Members are contacted prior to the cycle to confirm their intentions and gain an indication of the amount of material they wish to submit. This is to ensure consistency in the amount of material being processed by the project partners. Lists should be submitted as early as possible within the cycle to expedite the process of de-duplication and ensure as complete a response as possible.

How long does it take?

The purpose of conducting de-duplication in cycles is to permit incremental progress to be made towards establishing a collective research collection. Due to the complexity of coordinating the retention of multiple holdings of a title across the membership, receiving a final response to all submitted titles may sometimes take longer than the length of the cycle within which they were submitted.

How can UKRR help in local advocacy?

Libraries must gain academic and institutional support for deduplication before joining UKRR, and an advocacy toolkit is available from our resources page to assist with this. However UKRR are happy to offer further advice and support if the library feels this would be helpful.

If the journals are not accepted by the British Library for UKRR, what do libraries do with them?

If journals are not needed by the British Library, UKRR expects the HE library to dispose of the material in an environmentally friendly way or send the journals to charity.

What guarantee is there that the British Library will not dispose of the material in the future?

The British Library has made a formal commitment that all material held in the UKRR will be retained.

Who owns the journals in UKRR?

The ownership of journals belongs to the library holding them for UKRR.

Do items deposited under the scheme get a unique UKRR identifier on the BL Catalogue?

Individual items do not get a unique identifier, but a statement is added to the catalogue record identifying it as a UKRR retained title.


Is there support material available?

Support material is available from our members' resources page.  We are working to increase the amount of supporting documentation we have available, and welcome suggestions of material which would be of use to members.

Where can I get more help and information?

Via the UKRR Website:

Consult the members handbook

Or alternatively email the UKRR Project



See also...

  UKRR Resources

  UKRR Publications

  Contact UKRR