September 22, 2010

Cornell, Columbia Libraries Collaborate

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The Cornell and Columbia University Libraries will begin implementing a collaboration agreement and sharing their Slavic and East European collections this school year. Under the announced plan, the two universities will expedite inter-library loaning and coordinate their acquisitions. The project is the first step toward greater partnership between the two libraries.

The significance of the collaboration is “strategic — making the collective collection richer,” Associate University Librarian John Saylor said. The joint collection of Slavic and East European materials will be the second largest in North America.

When the collaboration is fully implemented, faculty and students at both universities “will be able to have equal usage,” Saylor said.

The current budget cuts were “one catalyst” for the collaboration project, according to Saylor. The project was also the result of “a long standing desire for deeper partnerships,” he said. The Cornell University library system has been hit hard by the budget cuts, necessitating the relocation of collegiate libraries and reduced funding for acquisitions of materials.

“When the serious budget cuts surfaced, we were prepared to mitigate the effect” through collaboration programs such as this, Associate University Librarian Scott Wicks added.

“Information is increasing, demand is increasing,” but we have “less and less money to support the collections,” Saylor said.

Currently, the Cornell University Library system offers Borrow Direct, a privileged borrowing service of six Ivy League school libraries. The partnership with Columbia will further these efforts.

Sharing the Slavic and East European collections is the “first external visible outcome” of the collaboration agreement between the two libraries, Wicks said. Eventually, the goal is for a Cornell student “to be able to go to New York and check out books from Butler Library,” he said.

The collaboration, nicknamed 2CUL as an acronym of the two university libraries, will “allow the library to buy more unique content without impairing local use,” Saylor said. Aside from the sharing of print materials, 2CUL will strive to integrate electronic resources and employ technological improvements. The agreement will minimize overlap by coordinating acquisitions, Saylor said.

“We are increasing the resources available to faculty and students through the collaboration,” he said.

Saylor summarizes the library agreement as “a really successful collaboration. I look forward to all the potential growth that we will see.”

Original Author: Max Schindler