Jo An S. Segal
There are several definitions of networks which have led many times to serious confusion over the meaning of the word. First of all we have an informal definition of something often referred to as networking, which simply means knowing who knows what and linking up with them in some way. As one special librarian said to me at one time, a library in a network is a library with connections and we all need connections. It was this sense of connection which Carol Niemeyer stressed in the theme for her year as American Library Association (ALA) president.
Cooperative activities among libraries have existed for many years at a variety of levels from a small consortium of libraries sharing information about interlibrary loans, purchasing cooperatives, processing centers, regional systems within states, state library networking activities, multitype and multistate organizations, and even national ones. Using the term "network" for all of these entities can lead to confusion and a fear of competition, which will be addressed later in the section called Levels of Networking, and which looms as a real danger to the promulgation of cooperative activities among libraries.