British Library Joins RLG
The British Library has become a general member of the Research Libraries Group (RLG). In announcing this news, J. Michael Smethurst, the British Library's director general of London Services, said, "We have worked closely with RLG for a number of years, and the time is now right for a closer relationship. We want to develop new ties with the major research libraries and the scholarly community in the United States; because RLG works with both the library-bibliographic world and the scholarly world, it is a good organization for us to be associated with."
"The British Library's decision to join," said RLG president James Michalko, "gives us the wonderful opportunity to make real the rhetoric about the internalization of scholarship. We look forward to working with the British Library staff, and perhaps with some of their European colleagues, to really make global connections among the various communities of scholars that will serve all our interests."
John W. Haeger, RLG's vice president for programs, added, "The collections of the British Library constitute the single richest research resource in the English-speaking world. That the British Library has recognized its peer relationship with a number of RLG's current members sends a persuasive message to institutions in North America that are not now members."
One of the British Library's peer institutions is Harvard University, which also recently became a general member of RLG. Harvard's librarian, Richard De Gennaro, welcomed the BL announcement, "This is genuinely exciting news for the North American library community. It signals a new era of cooperation among the major libraries of the U.S. and Western Europe."
Two areas of expected collaboration within the RLG framework are collection preservation and the enormous challenge of online access to what Haeger calls the "world's historic collections," of which those at the British Library and harvard University are two prime examples.
"Virtually all the countries in North America and Western Europe," said Haeger, "as well as some in Latin America and Asia, through their national libraries have taken responsibility for current national bibliographies in machine-readable form. …