Cameron Pollack

The university has partnered with Ithaca College to create a program that allows students and staff to borrow materials from both library systems directly.

January 28, 2018

Ithaca College and Cornell Libraries Combine Catalogs

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A new Cornell University and Ithaca College partnership allows students, faculty and staff to borrow books and other reference materials directly from both campuses.

The library departments of Cornell and Ithaca College have now added a program where members of each of the college’s communities can go to the other’s campus and check out books.

Students will have to apply for a free library card before they can borrow materials.

Cornell currently does have library lending partnerships with other universities. The University participates in the Interlibrary loan program that allows students to receive materials from Cornell’s partner organizations. Ithaca College also has a similar program in place.

“We have had a long-standing relationship with [Ithaca College] on Interlibrary Loan,” said Caitlin Finlay, Director of Interlibrary Services. “This is something that is growing in the resource sharing community. The philosophy of resource sharing is getting these materials to people no matter where they are.”

Because of the proximity of the campuses, members of either institution are now able to go directly to the library and check out books.

“We are so close that the [Interlibrary Services] department was getting people from Ithaca College or vice versa saying ‘Hey I am here can I take out this book?’ and there was no mechanism to do that because that was not the way the system would work,” said Wendy Wilcox, Access Services Librarian.

Cornell additionally has in place a program called Borrow Direct between the Ivy League, Stanford University, University of Chicago, Duke University, John Hopkins University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Borrow Direct was “a means of getting books to each other a little faster,” Wilcox said.

The program “creates a shared catalog” that allows the partners to “move books much quicker to each other,” Wilcox said, “It was really just a faster Interlibrary loan between us.” The “natural extension” of the Borrow Direct evolved to allow members of the partner institutions to take out books directly from the institution.

“Once we had those relationships and people were used to getting those books from Borrow Direct, we would see a lot of people go visit those actual institutions” Wilcox said. “We saw that this was the natural expectation our users wanted.”

Using the existing framework of the Borrow Direct program, Cornell was able to create the new partnership with Ithaca College.

When looking to see other institutions that would be good partners to expand the program, “Ithaca College couldn’t be a better partner,” Wilcox said.

“They are right here in our town, [have an] undergraduate population, and they have several master programs. It just made a lot of sense to get rid of the barriers associated with sharing materials,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox talked of how coordinating programs between libraries takes careful planning. Different schools have different systems of organizing their libraries.

“It was complicated,” Wilcox said. “Figuring out how we would manage the logistics took a lot of time to work out.”

Three people have already gone to Ithaca College to use the service, and several people have come to the Cornell libraries, according to Wilcox. “It is pretty exciting and I think people also agree it makes sense.”