Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Joint Libraries: Models That Work

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Joint Libraries: Models That Work

Article excerpt

Joint Libraries: Models That Work. By Claire B. Gunnels, Susan E. Green, and Patricia M. Butler. Chicago: ALA, 2012. 232 p. Paper. $60 (ISBN: 9780838911389).

Public and university libraries, school and public libraries, university and community college libraries--joint libraries of all combinations have been appearing nationwide since the 1970s. The motivation for creating joint libraries is familiar: cutting costs by sharing resources. The elements that make these partnerships work, however, are complex.

The analogy of a marriage is used frequently by the participants creating joint libraries. Anticipating problems, communicating, and compromising are important at every step of a library merger. The authors devote an entire chapter to the culture clash between academic and public library employees and the different approaches joint libraries have taken toward meeting this challenge. Differences in collection management, reference, and computer use must be reconciled; conflicting vacation schedules need to be accommodated. Sometimes the solution is to merge services; other times it is to keep services separate but equal.

The authors also pay special attention to the differing management structures of these hybrid libraries and the staffing challenges they face. Some successful joint libraries function under a single library director, and some decide to share a facility but keep separate administrators and staff. Both models create issues in human resources, and the authors do a good job of examining how some libraries have successfully handled them. …

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