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Resource Sharing

After completing this session, you'll be able to:

Begin by viewing the class presentation in Vimeo. Then, read each of the sections of this page for more detail.

Explore each of the following topics on this page:

 

Cooperation & Libraries

sharingIn the library world, resource sharing means that you are collaborating with one or more libraries to maximize access to a larger array of resources by sharing the collections of the cooperating libraries or pooling funding to purchase shared digital resources. In this day of shrinking resource dollars, most libraries participate in some type of resource sharing, even when they may not be aware of it.

Resource sharing provides the cooperating libraries with an opportunity to access materials from other libraries, which should result in a cost savings.

Example. If academic library A has a very strong Latin American history collection and academic library B has a very strong Russian history collection, the two libraries could form a partnership so the researchers at each campus would have priority access to the materials at the other campus and academic library A would not have to use monies to buy Russian history materials.

Public libraries X, Y, and Z can also get together and negotiate a cost reduction for access to digital resources which turns into a win-win situation for the libraries that individually pay less than they would if they negotiated on their own. Vendors also like the arrangement because they now have the commitment of three libraries that are often in proximity for service support.

Sharing Collections

So, how would you go about sharing collections?

First, you would need to decide if you have something worth sharing and whether you are willing to share it. Obviously, this isn't the time to consider ways to cut costs on best sellers, but you can look at your collections to see what you have that you wouldn't often inconvenience your own patrons to have checked out to others.

Example. the Hancock County Public Library in Greenfield, Indiana may have an extraordinary collection of the works of hometown author, James Whitcomb Riley, and Indianapolis Public Library could have a fabulous collection of local author, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Could some type of collection sharing arrangement be made? Should it?

Vonnegut

There are a number of institutional variables to consider. One is the type of library. Because the missions of public libraries are often not compatible with school, academic, or special libraries, it may not work to have comprehensive agreements to the full collections of each; therefore, it is best to seek a library with a similar mission. It is also good to consider location to support efficient transfer of materials. A small library shouldn't take advantage of a large library unless there is an additional carrot extended for access to the more extensive collection. Libraries that share resources should have some degree of equity in what they have to offer to the collaborating libraries.

Although there often isn't a formal arrangement, public libraries often cooperate with school libraries to supplement items needed in the curriculum (e.g., for various assignments). Sometimes school librarians give the public library staff a heads up when a major school assignment is coming up so the public library can take steps to prepare for the onslaught of children (or their parents) coming for information on the same topic.

girl library

Approaches to Resource Sharing

Libraries have collaborated in a number of interesting and unique ways.

For example, there are a few joint use libraries where a school and public library or a public library and college share resources, and in some cases, a building. Examples include San Jose State University and San Jose Public Library Collaboration and Ivy Tech Community College and Tippecanoe County Public Library Sharing.

Libraries can also agree independently to share resources as is the case with the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC). This is a group of university libraries comprised of the Big Ten, including Indiana University, and the University of Chicago (a former Big Ten school) for a range of cooperative endeavors, including athletics.

try itTry It!
Go to the CIC Center for Library Initiatives to learn about the shared library agreement. Think about how this type of agreement might work practically.

State & National Cooperation. In Indiana, the Indiana State Library provides a number of resources for all libraries throughout the state. In addition to being a lending library and offering the resources of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, they offer several databases and other resources through INSPIRE and a shared library catalog through Evergreen Indiana. Ohio and Maryland are also among the states offering statewide services through OhioLINK and SAILOR.

Regions. Some states are divided into regions or library systems. South Central Wisconsin Library System is an example.

Networks. Other cooperative arrangements are in the form of networks such as Midwest Collaborative for Libraries Services and Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI).

Consortia. Others work together in consortia, such as Academic Libraries of Indiana (ALI).

Interlibrary Loan Agreements. Finally, there are agreements and priorities given for interlibrary loan requests. Members of OCLC can get reduced cataloging charges by loaning more items through OCLC than they borrow, for example. See OCLC WorldCat for additional information about that arrangement.

try itRead!
Pan, D., & Fong, Y. (2010). Return on investment for collaborative collection development: A cost-benefit evaluation of consortia purchasing. Collaborative Librarianship, 2(4), 183-192.

Pros and Cons of Cooperative Agreements

hand shakeHopefully, you are able to see some of the advantages of resource sharing. Providing your patrons access to a greater number of resources at a lowered cost can be a huge incentive for setting up agreements and playing nice with other libraries.

However, a number of factors need to be considered when contemplating a cooperative agreement. First, a cost/benefit analysis should be conducted. There may be a reduction or retraining of staff to meet this new model. Technology and programing costs may increase or decrease depending on the type of arrangement.

Additionally, a disproportionate amount of the library's funds could be spent to serve patrons outside the service area (or vice versa) if there is inequity in usage. With some agreements, like Evergreen Indiana, some local control is lost as shared policies are developed for loan periods, fines, etc.

balanceOther types of agreements can get really sticky when things change. We already talked about the agreements that needed to be renegotiated when the University of Nebraska left the Big 12 and joined the Big Ten (and CIC) in 2011. How would you like the job of untangling that mess?

A further complication comes into play when weeding and preservation are considered. If your library is part of an agreement based primarily on the strength of your environmental science holdings, for example and that program is eliminated from the university, what happens to that agreement or collection?

Another serious disadvantage with some agreements, or consortium memberships, is that once you are in, it is hard to get out. Departure could affect pricing agreements for other members.

When libraries share resources, they need to work together for both selection as well as deselection of materials.

try itRead!
Borek, D., Bell, B., Richardson, G., & Lewis, W. (2006). Perspectives on building consortia between libraries and other agencies. Library Trends, 54, 448-462.

try itRead!
Gillies, Scott & Stephenson, Carol (2012). Three libraries, three weeding projects: collaborative weeding projects within a shared print repository. Collection Management, 37(3-4), 205-222.

try itRead!
Maes, Margaret & Thompson-Przylucki (2012). Collaborative stewardship: building a shared, central collection of print legal materials. Collection Development, 37(3-4), 294-306.

The Real World

It's likely that resource sharing will continue to increase as funding decreases. However, there are also a number of issues to consider in building relationships.

In an effort to provide a standard for interlibrary loan usage, the American Library Association adopted the Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States. Explore this document as you build agreements.

There are also issues related to copyright. If you are counting on receiving a copy of a significant portion of a book or journal as part of your cooperative agreement, be sure you know the law.

try itRead!
Read Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians to understand your responsibilities under the law.

Needless to say, resource sharing can be complicated, but most libraries can't live without it in today's economy.

try itRead!
Demas, Samuel & Miller, Mary E. (2012). Rethinking collection management plans: shaping collective collections for the 21st century. Collection Management, 37(3-4), 168-187.

 

Resources

Baich, T., Zou, T. J., Weltin, H., & Yang, Z. Y. (2009). Lending and borrowing across borders: Issues and challenges with international resource sharing. Reference & Users Services Quarterly, 49(1), 54-63.

Borek, D., Bell, B., Richardson, G., & Lewis, W. (2006). Perspectives on building consortia between libraries and other agencies. Library Trends, 54, 448-462.

Breivik, P. S., Budd, L., & Woods, R. F. (2005). We're married! The rewards and challenges of joint libraries. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 31, 401-408.

Demas, Samuel & Miller, Mary E. (2012). Rethinking collection management plans: shaping collective collections for the 21st century. Collection Management, 37(3-4), 168-187.

Gillies, Scott & Stephenson, Carol (2012). Three libraries, three weeding projects: collaborative weeding projects within a shared print repository. Collection Management, 37(3-4), 205-222.

Hoffert, B. (2006). The united way. Library Journal, 131, 38-41.

Indiana State Library. (2010). Resources sharing manual.

Kinner, L., & Crosetto, A. (2009). Balancing act for the future: How the academic library engages in collection development at the local and consortial levels. Journal of Library Administration, 49, 419-437.

Maes, Margaret & Thompson-Przylucki (2012). Collaborative stewardship: building a shared, central collection of print legal materials. Collection Development, 37(3-4), 294-306.

Mak, C. (2011). Resource sharing among ARL libraries in the US: 35 years of growth. Interlending & Document Supply, 39(1), 26-31.

Pan, D., & Fong, Y. (2010). Return on investment for collaborative collection development: A cost-benefit evaluation of consortia purchasing. Collaborative Librarianship, 2(4), 183-192.


Portions of this page were adapted from Collection Development & Management by Irwin and Albee (2012).


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