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									                      Advancing Scholarship Through Library Collaboration

                                          Sarah E. Thomas
                                 Carl A. Kroch University Librarian
                                     Cornell University Library

Past efforts at cooperation have been numerous, but the ideal has been difficult to achieve
and imperfectly realized. In the area of collections, for example, the Farmington Plan,
initiated under the auspices of the Association of Research Libraries a few years after
World War II, aimed at rationalizing the acquisition of foreign imprints of research
interest in the United States, with specific institutions committing to acquire the output of
certain countries and to giving priority to the cataloging of these titles. Such a
cooperative endeavor began to seem burdensome and to conflict with local needs to
develop holdings that corresponded with institutional teaching and research activities.
University libraries were unwilling to cede the responsibility of the acquisition of core
materials to other institutions, with the consequence that agreements focused on marginal
and obscure collecting areas. 1 In the early 1950’s the interlibrary loan of physical objects
was slow and cumbersome. The growth of the American University in the post-war and
Sputnik eras led to a glut of material in cataloging and the rise of massive backlogs.
Although there were leaders with vision who advocated cooperation for the benefit of
scholarship, they were often frustrated by the limitations of the environment in which
they worked.

The application of automation to bibliographic control in the 1970’s inspired a
transformation in the operations of libraries. The creation and subsequent adoption of the
MARC format as a means of representing and communicating bibliographic information
in a machine-readable form enabled libraries to share cataloging data according to
bibliographic standards. Bibliographic utilities such as OCLC and RLG’s RLIN, took
advantage of the MARC format and the records distributed by the Library of Congress to
develop databases that became tools for the contribution of original cataloging and the
manipulation of bibliographic information by others. The functionality they offered
made possible the wide-spread adoption of copy cataloging, reducing costs, increasing
the timely cataloging of new acquisitions, and facilitating the exchange of information
across libraries and across borders. Soon the increased visibility of library holdings
encouraged the expansion of interlibrary borrowing. Over the decades of the eighties and
nineties, the use of common systems helped individual libraries join with others in
programs such as CONSER (Cooperative Online Serials Project) and the Program for
Cooperative Cataloging which promoted best practices and adherence to standards in the
creation and maintenance of bibliographic records and encouraged a balance between
self-interest and the good of the whole. The advantages accruing to participants were
economic and material. Throughput was faster and work could be accomplished less

    Ralph D. Wagner. A History of the Farmington Plan. Boston: Scarecrow Press, 2002.
In collection development, beginning in the early ‘90’s, the Association of Research
Libraries, working together with the Association of American Universities, initiated the
Global Resources Program (now the Global Resources Network or GRN) to increase
access to international publications in a range of formats and to enhance access to them.
The GRN commenced its efforts in three areas of vital significance, Germany, Japan, and
Latin America, and have subsequently expanded with the addition of new projects that
include African newspapers, a digital South Asia Library, and a Southeast Asia Indexing
Project. Each of the projects differed in application, based on the types of literature
considered in scope and status of coverage and access within the originating country.
The German Resources Project, for example, quickly evolved from a collections focus to
an access focus, since the control of collections within Germany was strong, and the more
effective approach to ensuring that North American scholars had ready availability to
materials of academic interest in Germany was to implement fast and reliable document
delivery of German language titles. An important aspect of the German Resources
project is its bilateral focus, with equal interest on the part of German scholars in
obtaining access to works held in North America. The emphasis is on effective exchange
of bibliographic information, the sharing of library holdings, the elimination of
duplication of effort, and the building of digital libraries, portals, and partnerships.2

Increasingly, cooperation has moved from the plane of national activity to one of
international relationships. This has been especially evident in the work of standards
setting and cataloging policy. In an article entitled “The Emerging Bibliographic
Network: the Era of International Standardization in the Development of Cataloging
Policy” John Byrum notes the rising “interdependency” among practitioners as editions
of the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules have appeared in numerous languages, as the
MARC format has been widely adopted, and as libraries from outside the United States
have become contributors to the Library of Congress’s NACO (name authority
cooperative) and SACO (subject authority cooperative).3 Even where cataloging rules
have reflected significantly variant philosophies about description, there has been
movement to reconcile differences. In Germany, for example, there has been much
discussion about the Regeln für die Alphabetische Katalogisierung (RAK) and their
relationship to AACR2, with a desired end of convergence that will further the reciprocal
use of cataloging records prepared on either side of the Atlantic.4

There were efforts to harmonize the MARC format and to resolve differences between
and among catalog rules employed by different countries. The Library of Congress, the
British Library, and the National Library of Canada have worked to merge USMARC,
UK MARC, and CAN/MARC into one consistent MARC. A LIBER MARC

  Thomas Kilton, Memo to Dan Hazen, February 2, 2003.
  John D. Byrum, Jr. “The Emerging Global Bibliographic Network: The Era of International
Standardization in the development of Cataloging Policy,” LRTS 44 (3) (July 2000), p. 114.

 Monika Münnich, Deutsche Katalogregeln auf dem Weg ins 21. Jahrhundert RAK auf dem Weg zu
Internationalität und Online-Operabilität , http://www.ifla.org/IV/ifla65/papers/103-131g.htm

Harmonization Task Force, established through the leadership of Dr. Elmar Mittler in
2001, continues to review European data formats and to assess the potential for format

One of the elements of the Global Resources Program relating to German titles was the
use of subito, an international document delivery service. In lieu of collecting as broad
and as deep a selection of German language titles for storage in the United States as had
previously been their goal, participating libraries experimented with substituting access to
them through a document delivery service. While the concept of “access over
ownership” had taken root in the United States as a strategy against rising inflation and
the unsustainability of attempting to collect comprehensively in the face of publishing
output increasing steadily, it had not been fully deployed from continent to continent.
However, as fax and other imaging technologies evolved, new alliances and services also
came into being. Subito’s ability to send a fax; the ARIEL system developed by RLG,
and the British Library’s document supply service have revolutionized access to
information. Many other information-sharing programs have contributed to a shift in
how librarians and their users view collections. For example, Borrow Direct is an
initiative in which seven universities in the U.S. Northeast permit users to request items
from each other’s catalogs without mediation, resulting in lower costs for interlibrary
loan and making it possible to get books in the hands of users within hours and days, not
weeks or months. RAPID, a Colorado-based service links the collections of 20 university
libraries and concentrates on providing digital delivery of journal literature to the desktop
in a 24 hour timeframe. These opportunistic relationships build on the ingenuity and
leadership of particular information specialists and consortia. They encompass expanded
geographical terrain and employ technology to transcend boundaries of time and space.
Cultural and political barriers still remain, however.

Researchers and scholars, who often start their information searches on Google, and who
express a preference for accessing information online, still express conventional
expectations for their libraries and want printed volumes centrally located for browsing.
This is especially true for most humanists and many social scientists. Even physicists,
who consult recent contributions to their discipline via the arXiv, an e-print server that
registers over 40,000 submissions annually from around the world, still insist on
continuing subscriptions to print journals. Nonetheless, the information landscape is
changing and we can anticipate significant shifts in the future.

The possibilities for collaboration and improved services through integration are
enormous. It is likely that the pattern of development will follow the grid of the
information infrastructure. Those parts of the world where connectivity is ubiquitous and
citizens consider the Internet an indispensable tool and resource to achieve their personal
and professional objectives will be the first to adopt the new way of sharing information.
The trend will spread as other countries and culture join the infrastructure.

 Renate Gömpel and Christine Frodl, “LIBER MARC Harmonization Task Force - Format activities in
European countries,” http://liber.library.uu.nl/publish/articles/000066/index.html

With the rise of the Internet and the World Wide Web and the introduction of a range of
devices that foster personal convenience and interaction, the environment for information
services has changed dramatically. Consumers are mobile, moving from city to city and
country to country with increasing frequency. They use cell phones and personal digital
assistants and expect to maintain constant connections with friends and colleagues and
the Internet. PDA’s and laptops are empowering tools, enabling them to seek
information on their own, without the guidance of an intermediary. Automated teller
machines (ATMs) are ubiquitous and are frequently enhanced with bilingual or
multilingual interfaces. They tap into an international banking network that allows
almost instantaneous access to locally managed funds that can be transferred, converted,
and dispensed in foreign currency. Wireless communications further change the
landscape. A simple search box, such as the search engine Google offers, yields
thousands of responses in less than a second. Sophisticated interfaces and software are
deployed concurrently to deliver services that are customized and personalized.

Individuals are becoming accustomed to a broad inventory, home delivery, and a wide
variety of information, much of it free. Products and services are often part of a global
market. Conglomerates have increased their markets through mergers and acquisitions of
related businesses that can be integrated into comprehensive operations. For example, a
single provider can offer cell phone service that functions seamlessly in Europe, North
America, and Asia. People live today in a world in which boundaries blur and shift.
Geopolitical boundaries are more porous than in the twentieth century. The European
Union provides a framework for cooperation and interaction that significantly contributes
to the spread of standards and best practices.

All of these developments have implications for libraries. No longer is the catalog, so
important for research in the twentieth century, the default starting point for research by
faculty. Studies conducted at a major U.S. research institutions indicate that a majority of
faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates consult search engines more frequently
than they use the library catalog or online gateway or make a visit to a library building.
They find library databases and interfaces hard to use.6 They want more runs of journals
online and access to full-text.7 Increasingly, they want multimedia documents—video,
visual materials, primary sources, geospatial data, audio, and software—and they want
them, if at all possible, at their convenience, available to them electronically any time
they need it.

At the same time these societal and technological developments are transforming the way
individuals and groups interact with information, other factors are also affecting libraries.
Economic pressures from within and without their host institution are altering their
traditional practices. Academic libraries are receiving a declining proportion of the
university budget, and the cost of operating in a digital world, despite certain efficiencies
brought through automation, has increased demands on libraries. Expanding a bricks and

  Roger C. Schonfeld and Kevin Guthrie, “What Faculty Think of Electronic Resources,”
  LibQual+ TM Spring 2003 Survey. Institutional Results. Cornell University.

mortar environment to a “bricks and clicks” operation without a significant increase in
base budgets for staff and operations has stressed the organization. The cost of the
technological infrastructure has been high, and libraries often compete with other units in
the university for scarce resources.

For the past two decades libraries have also struggled with rising costs of acquiring
materials, particularly in the area of scientific, technical, and medical journals.8 The rate
of inflation has greatly outstripped the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and the Higher
Education Price Index (HEPI). In an article examining U.S. periodical prices, Dingley
documented that “U.S. periodical prices continue to rise at approximately twice the rate
of the HEPI and more than three times the rate of the CPI. 9 Compounding the situation
has been the transition from a predominantly print-based journals collection to a
combination of print and electronic in which the business model for publishers has
switched from subscription sales to licensing, usually with a surcharge for electronic if
print is still taken, or a modest discount for electronic only access. The effect has been
dramatic, with many institutions canceling subscriptions to journals published by small or
independent publishers in order to pay for the hefty price increases imposed by large
commercial publishers and some scientific societies selling their products aggregated into
so-called ‘bundles.” U.S. libraries have also shifted resources previously allocated to the
purchase of foreign language materials or to the acquisition of humanities and social
science monographs to the licensing of serial literature.

In the ‘90’s, the principle of “access over ownership” began to replace the goal of local
self-sufficiency. With more holdings registered in union catalogs by libraries, it became
more feasible to rely on external collections for non-core materials. These practices,
optimized the use of local funds to capture mainstream and high-use materials,
strategically transferred responsibility for building deep and comprehensive collections to
a few institutions, or depended on the likelihood that, even without deliberate
coordination of selection, the holdings of hundreds of libraries, accessible through a
major database such as OCLC’s WorldCat, would yield the desired resource. Collection
developers did sound alarms about the homogenization of holdings, and the possibility
that some key items would drop through the cracks. Branin, Groen, and Thorin review
trends in collection management in the latter decades of the 20th century and observe:
“Rather than a highly decentralized system as exists today, with duplicative collections
spread across the country, digital technologies have the potential to provide more
centrally organized information storage and highly distributed, quick, and cost-effective
access.”10 .

In the early years of the twenty-first century we can just catch a glimpse of the future,
although it is impossible to predict it precisely because of the rapid advance of

  “Monograph and Serial Costs in ARL Libraries 1986-2003.”
   Brenda Dingley, “U.S. Periodical Prices—2004,”
   Joseph Branin, Frances Groen, and Suzanne Thorin, “ The Changing Nature of Collection Management
in Libraries,”LRTS, 44 (1) (January 2000), p. 28.

technology and consequent developments in our economy and society. There are also
barriers to realizing the vision presented here such as national chauvinism or the current
state of intellectual property rights, but current trends suggest that some version of the
following vision will materialize. The importance of proximity to physical items will
diminish as improved modes of distribution develop. Digitized copies of physical items
will become the norm, making the location of the book or journal irrelevant to the scholar
or consumer. Consequently libraries will be able to collaborate to optimize storage,
building regional repositories to house “use” copies. A “dark archive,” that is, a
collection of items held to reflect the cultural record and kept from circulation to ensure
preservation of the artifact will exist in separate locations to maximize security and
protect the materials from jeopardy as a result of natural, political, or technical disaster.

The print repository will hold contributions from multiple institutions. These libraries
will integrate their collections and divest themselves of common duplicates to save space
and individual preservation costs. Perhaps the sale of these duplicates will result in some
additional revenue to defray the expense of transferring items to the common collection.
To improve access to the shared print repository, for which efficient storage techniques
do not permit physical browsing, libraries will build a better index to the stored
collections, enriching the existing bibliographic data with table of contents, index, or
other information. Each time a user requests an item from the shared collection, the
repository management policies will ensure that it is digitized, expanding the capacity of
the digital library that complements the print stock. The organization managing the
repositories, either a single institution which runs the operations on behalf of others, or a
jointly held responsibility of all partners, will negotiate blanket agreements with major
publishing houses and rights holders to digitize items still under copyright restriction.
Royalties or other compensation, such as the transfer of a copy of the digitized work, will
ensure fair protection of author and publisher rights. Items where ownership of rights is
difficult to trace will be embargoed from public access for a period of time, during which
permission to make the item openly available will be sought. Items where permission to
digitize is denied will be flagged, and statistical data about the number of objects falling
into this category as well as the use of other, openly accessible items will contribute to
the shaping and refinement of library and publisher policy. Potentially, new laws to
address the management of intellectual property rights in situations where the original
rights holder is no longer traceable will facilitate digitization of these titles as a public
good. Public domain items will be immediately accessible after digitization.

To put into place a policy which effects the transformation of the print repository into a
companion digital archive, the organization operating the print repository will also
manage a large-scale, state-of-the-art digitization enterprise. In one workstream the
digitization operation will scan on demand, harvesting requested items from the millions
that will be housed in the climate-controlled high-density building. Robots will retrieve
requested titles for imaging by fast and efficient scanners. A parallel workflow will
engage in systematic digitization of materials such as runs of journals or ranges of
classifications or groups of materials clustering around a common theme. Scholars today
who insist on physical access to collections for inspiration and browsing will adapt or be
replaced by a new generation comfortable and facile in digital discovery. By dedicating

a portion of their budgets to digitization of retrospective collections and by eliminating
the need to house a significant amount of their collections locally, with attendant costs for
space and maintenance, libraries will develop a new business model that will take
advantage of major economies of scale. Libraries may transform their existing physical
space to meet new information uses or may return, perhaps for credit, the square footage
housing unneeded book stacks to be renovated for other campus priorities.

Just as the management of retrospective collections will change greatly, so will the
development of prospective holdings. Each institution will continue to house a carefully
selected collection of books and other physical bibliographic objects. Some of these items
will be books that reflect traditional uses, and some will be items for which print, not
digital, is the best medium. The emphasis will be on titles that have contemporary
appeal, rather than the approach used more commonly in the recent past of acquiring
books and journals on the speculation, albeit based on the expertise of trained selectors,
that an item might be of value at some time. Instead of “just in case” selection or
acquisition in anticipation of future use, books in campus libraries will be by definition
intended for frequent and immediate consultation. The introduction of management
information based on prior use of similar items, combined with data pooled from the
circulation records of other libraries and sales from major distributors, will create a more
accurate prediction of use, enabling libraries to target titles and to spend resources more

Because the number of publications issued throughout the world is increasing, and
because there is simultaneously an expansion of the number of informally published
items in a variety of formats, libraries will sharpen their areas of specialization, with
perhaps six to a dozen libraries across the world serving as centers of excellence for
various disciplinary domains. These centers will be closely aligned with the research
focus of their universities. Since print and digital collections will be collectively held by
groups of libraries and linked in an integrated manner to other collections of repositories,
the concern expressed today about maintaining permanent responsibility for developing
collections that are no longer a local academic priority will be mitigated. The near
seamless access by readers to items held in repositories, and the mechanisms for rapid
distribution and delivery will further obviate the need for large proximate collections. A
network of collaborating institutions will rationalize collecting responsibilities. National
libraries will provide additional insurance of coverage by being responsible for acquiring
titles published within their host countries or in some case, in the language of their

Libraries that have committed to serve as a center of excellence will collaborate on
building the portals or web sites that will facilitate the discovery of information of quality
and value relating to a particular domain. By integrating their development, they will
eliminate the redundant efforts that are rife today. Opportunities for local customization
will still be possible, but the basic foundation will be a product of a union of experts.
Users will have the ability to contribute resources as well, or to add evaluations to
sources cited. A certification and identification process to manage user participation will
be necessary, and the final display of elements of the portal will be dynamically affected

by information about use, value, and relevance of individual items. Based on the
prevailing model of information discovery, these portals will be constructed in such a
way that they can be automatically harvested by search engines and made visible through
commonly used retrieval tools.

Libraries will also play a greater role in the creation and dissemination of information
than they have in the past. When libraries acquired printed books and journals and end
products of scholarship and research, their role was to select them, to describe and
organize them, shelve and preserve them, and otherwise make them accessible. In the
digital era, libraries are partnering with authors, scholarly societies, university presses,
and others to create new forms of scholarship. As they mine their existing collections for
primary and secondary materials to digitize, they make accessible single works and
aggregations of content. When librarians collaborate with faculty to shape these digitized
images into teaching tools, websites, and other novel digital resources, they are
contributors to the creation of new knowledge. More recently, they have been building
institutional or digital repositories to make available a broad spectrum of original
works—electronic books and articles, but also multimedia, coursework, data, and other
types of materials. With tools such as DSpace and Fedora to enable repository
development, librarians are serving as potential catalysts in the deconstruction of the
present journal publication model, which, in its existing form is economically
unsustainable. They facilitate the uncoupling of the publication of research from peer
review, tenure and promotion decisions, and simple dissemination. Journal and e-book
management software enables the library to enter into the realm of the publisher even
more directly, but with a different motivation than commercial publishers seeking a
return on investment. The widespread availability of open source software such as
DSpace, Fedora, and DPubS allows multiple institutions to participate in the maintenance
and enhancement of products in a way that distributes the cost effectively and
inexpensively. This in turn will allow librarians to become a new breed of publisher.
The Open Access movement promoted by SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic
Research Coalition) is taking hold, with an increasing number of journals being made
freely available to readers.

Research libraries have, therefore, at least two modes for disseminating scholarship in a
low- or no-barrier form. They can build repositories for local or disciplinary-based
information, which then, using protocols such as OAI (Open Archives Initiative), can be
harvested and federated by search engines. Alternatively, they can use journal
management software to bring the editorial efforts of scholarly societies, universities and
academic departments to the public. In either case, they contribute to advancing timely,
economical access to scholarly literature in way that has the potential to transform the
present unsustainable construct into a vibrant endeavor. They bring to the table their
experience with metadata, digital libraries, content, and users in a way that strongly
enhances collaboration with authors, editors, and peer reviewers.

The librarians populating this new information world will require special skills and
characteristics. To collaborate well with others will demand not only the ability to work
in teams, but also the knowledge of contract negotiation. New ways of delivering

services will benefit from careful business modeling. Working with a global clientele
will require different approaches for marketing and outreach. And, in the fast-paced
world of technological change and societal development, librarians, too, will have to be
technically savvy, flexible, and adaptable.

In the late twentieth century work undertaken in leading libraries prepared the way for the
future. By sharing best practices and harmonizing bibliographic standards they enabled
the building of online public access catalogs and union catalogs that in turn laid the
foundation for resource sharing. By developing robust document delivery networks, they
not only accelerated the pace of the creation of new knowledge, but they also changed the
way in which librarians and readers experience collections, fueling the transformation of
collection management into knowledge management.11 With the ability of an integrated
network of libraries to rationalize, optimize, and share collections in an efficient and
timely manner, old measures of excellence, such as size of collections, decline in
importance. For the twenty-first century scholar the local library recedes in importance
as a physical presence, and with the barriers to access reduced by the ready
transmissibility of digital information, the scholar’s satisfaction increases when able to
function independently, without the perceived impediment of mediation. Early
experimentation in digitization showed the potential for the medium. Moved from
opportunistic project into program, digital resources become the staple of the modern
library. The nature of the information consumer and the world he inhabits in conjunction
with expanded capabilities for libraries will result in a significantly altered relationship
among libraries in the coming years. They will evolve from relatively independent,
locally anchored operations to highly integrated organizations situated as nodes on a
network. Some aspects of current work, such as acquisitions and cataloging, may
undergo radical shifts as services external to the library such as approval plans, vendor-
supplied bibliographic records, or large scale service providers can fulfill requirements at
a lower cost or in a more timely fashion. Similarly collection management and
preservation may move from being independently run activities to collective enterprises.
Digitization will be best undertaken in large-scale ventures. Smaller institutions will
increasingly be served by larger ones or will join together with a variety of institutions to
function as an integrated collaborative. . Just as corporations have found strength in
aggregation, librarians and the public they serve will reap the advantage of transcending
local boundaries. With the growing importance of the Internet and the continuing
development of the web, librarians will find it more efficient to work together to serve a
worldwide community of users. They may well indeed be the precursor to the twenty-
first century transnational university, which itself will undergo transformation in the
coming years, drawing on an international alliance of partners to educate a growing
population of distributed, lifelong learners and to conduct research which spans
disciplinary, geographical, and political boundaries.

These are seismic changes and they will, no doubt, occur unevenly, sometimes
incrementally, and sometimes cataclysmically as innovations propel rapid transformation.

  Joseph Branin, “Fighting Back Once Again: From Collection Management to Knowledge Management.”
In Collection Management and Development: Issues in an Electronic Era, Peggy Johnson and Bonnie
MacEwan, eds. Chicago: American Library Association, 1994.

One thing is certain, however. Those who advance, as Newton has said, will stand “on
the shoulders of giants” – the visionaries and activists who have proceeded them.


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