Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Upper Murray Regional Library: The Collaborative Experience

Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Upper Murray Regional Library: The Collaborative Experience

Article excerpt

Collaboration is an old strategy that is very relevant in today's library worM, the catalysts and results of which are explored. Upper Murray Regional Library is involved in a number of collaborative projects with a range of partners. The strategy is used to overcome the many challenges posed for libraries by the information revolution

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The information revolution presents many challenges for the information professional. This paper looks at the strategy of collaboration used by Upper Murray Regional Library to meet the challenges of delivering services to meet increasing demands for information.

Collaboration is an old strategy that has great relevance in today's world. To provide the best access to the plethora of information being produced, libraries need to pursue this strategy. They also need to open up the field of candidates with whom they collaborate, to ensure maximum results.

Collaborative libraries are nothing new. Librarians, especially in public libraries, have an ethos of networking, sharing and collaborating to achieve a higher level of service for their users. Examples include

* the Sydney subject specialisation scheme, in which public libraries cooperate so that there is an indepth collection of resources in the subject areas. Each library service is independent but the collections they house are interdependent to provide the whole collection

* joint use libraries such as that at Cootamundra where the public library and Tale library are in the one building with their collections interfiled, the staff work side by side and the funding comes from both Tafe and local government

* document delivery services where libraries cooperate to provide access to a vast range of books, other resources and information through the interlibrary loans system

Collaboration is something that libraries achieve at a number of levels. At a national level in Australia there is Kinetica, where libraries cooperate to provide a national database. At a state level there is NSW.net, considered in greater detail later in this paper. At a regional level there are collaborations called regional library services. At a local level there are joint use libraries. Collaborations can be formal, with contracts and agreements, or informal where libraries share knowledge and experiences with each other so as to gain knowledge for delivering better services.

The catalysts for collaboration are

* the supplying and sharing of information. People increasingly expect an immediate answer to their questions and that all information will be accessible from any library

* the ever increasing volumes of information being produced. Libraries have always been the storehouses of information and knowledge, but the information revolution has brought about the phenomena of the information society and the knowledge economy

* with the information revolution has come the other phenomenon of the technology revolution, the digital age. Of the varied technologies that we use to store and deliver information, the most influential is the internet. It brings with it the challenges of how to access the content, how to catalogue and index the content how to manage access so that it is equitable for all

These phenomena are the catalysts for collaboration because of the impact they have on libraries.

Economic factors

These impacts have been economic, because access and storage cost money. Libraries have been in the information storage and delivery business for centuries but have never had such demand placed upon their services. The new access and storage technologies are expensive to acquire, and have the added need for ongoing funding for maintenance and replacement.

By collaborating, libraries can increase their ability to meet the demands for information, but do not have to store the resources to deliver this information. …

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