Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Library Consortia in the Brave New Online World

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Library Consortia in the Brave New Online World

Article excerpt

All of the librarians I have known and worked with have been a frugal bunch dedicated to getting the most "bang for the buck." Historically, one of the best ways to stretch the library budget has been to enter into cooperative agreements with other libraries and share resources, such as specialized print materials. This practice has continued and even expanded to include the sharing of library automation systems and cc6tracts for online databases. The Internet, with its common protocols, has made it even easier to share resources and has also made it easy for libraries that are looking to form a consortium to gather information on what works for other libraries.

Locating Consortia Online

To locate library consortia Web sites, I turned first to Libweb at Berkeley Digital Library SunSITE. Libweb maintains a current list of library Web servers. The site is updated daily at midnight Pacific time, and lists over 2,000 pages from libraries in over 70 countries. There is a page listing regional consortia in the United States that had 50 entries when I visited the site in early February. Scanning the list, I found that I recognized several of the more well-known and established cooperative projects and decided to visit these sites to learn about their current statuses.

The Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries

One name on the list jumped out at me immediately--the Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries. Over the years, this consortium of academic, public, and special libraries has been frequently cited in library literature. Its home page provides a link to a brief history of the consortium, mentioning its founding in 1974, the development of the CARL integrated library system--now separately developed and maintained by the CARL Corporation--and the consortium's change from a group of libraries sharing a common integrated library system to a multivendor consortium dedicated to resource sharing in the broadest sense. The strategic plan for the consortium can be viewed online.

Others of its publications are also available online, including its monthly newsletter with issues back to September 1995, and special reports including one on the financial benefits of membership in the consortium. There are also links to each of the member libraries' Web sites and online catalogs, and a members-only area for service and support. A separate page of Internet resources highlights Colorado news and library sources, while a "Librarian's Comer" page spotlights Internet resources useful to librarians.

A special project of the alliance is the Electronic Journal Access project, which is partially funded by a State Library of Colorado Library Services and Construction Act grant. This project's site provides title and subject organization using LC subject headings of electronic serial publications on the Internet. Selected electronic publications have been loaded onto local servers for faster access. Local sites may make suggestions for additions to the list and Colorado electronic serials are highlighted. Browsing by title or subject is supported by the search engine. A search function is also available for keyword searches of the entire journal record including the brief description or the more specific title or subject search.

I took some quick looks at the Web sites of other library consortia listed on Libweb and will leave you to explore them on your own. Another list of library consortia is an international list of online catalogs created by Peter Scott and Doug Macdonald of the University of Saskatchewan Libraries. If you are interested in comparing and contrasting union catalogs on the Web, this list of links is a quick way to access over 60 library consortia catalogs. Although this list is billed as an international list, the majority of the entries are from the United States.

What Is the W3C?

There is one other consortium that I think is important to librarians using the Internet, but it is not a library consortium. …

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