Academic journal article Alexandria

Challenges and Prospects of Consortia: A Case Study of the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH)

Academic journal article Alexandria

Challenges and Prospects of Consortia: A Case Study of the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH)

Article excerpt


In the current world of globalization, no individual organization and for that matter a library can afford to operate in isolation from other organizations in their industry. Many industries in order for them to share resources and ideas among their group members, and also to have a common front, tend to form cooperations. This was the issue that prompted libraries to start forming consortia.

According to Nfila and Darko-Ampem (2002), historically, the common form of library cooperation was the sharing of union catalogue information, storage facilities, collection development, and human resources at local, national, and regional levels. Consortia are therefore formed to help share resources to reduce the cost of collection development in a single library and also bring about other benefits. These benefits are well expressed in the words of experts as follows.

Within contemporary academic libraries consortia are playing an increasingly important role. Bostick (2001) describes them as a 'way of life' for academic libraries. Landesman and Van Reenen (2000) state that consortia are an important avenue for the way academic libraries do business and also note that consortia are having 'profound programmatic and financial implications for most campuses'.

One of the primary purposes of consortia, listed in many articles, is the leveraging of library budgets to purchase more resources (mainly digital resources) than could be purchased by any one member institution (Rowse, 2003; Baker and Sanville, 2000; Alexander, 1999; Allen and Hirshon, 1998). The economic benefit of consortia lies in the ability of libraries to take their budgets further, spending less and getting more.

In addition to the economic gains, Maskell (2008) lists several 'non-economic' objectives for consortia memberships including: reducing redundancy and the duplication of work; levelling the playing field between the haves and 'have nots' by providing access to the same core resources; enabling shared services such as virtual reference and interlibrary loan; and providing opportunities for professional development, policy and standards development.


In the whole of Africa, it is only South Africa which has made quite a serious effort in the formation of consortia. Currently, South Africa has five academic library consortia. These are;

* CALICO (CApe Library Cooperative), in the economically strong greater Cape Town area;

* ESAL (Eastern Seaboard Association of Libraries), in Kwazulu-Natal;

* FRELICO (FREe State Libraries and Information Consortium), in the Free State, with strong links to GAELIC;

* GAELIC (GAuteng and Environs Library Consortium), based in Gauteng, South Africa's smallest but richest and most economically dynamic province;

* SEALS (South Eastern Academic Libraries' System), in the Eastern Cape, one of the country's poorest regions (Darch et al., 1999).

Even with this, given the socio-political context and the extraordinary changes that have occurred in South Africa in the 1990s, it is not surprising that the motivation to cooperate and the nature, intensity, and success of cooperation vary widely among the five major academic library consortia in South Africa. Again South Africa Consortia face numerous problems ranging from sociopolitical, language issues to telecommunication infrastructure (Darch et al., 1999).


Ghana is not left out when it comes to problems associated with library consortia formations. It was not until the 1990s that one bold attempt was made to set up a consortium in Ghana (Martey, 2004). This was the Ghana Interlibrary Lending and Document Delivery Network that operated actively between 1996 and 2002 with DANIDA funding.

In August 2004, the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries (CARLIGH, 2010) was formed. It has five working groups, namely Bibliographic Services, Information Communication and Technology, Training, Information Marketing, and Electronic Information Services (Asare- Kyire and AsamoahHassan, 2006). …

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