Information Alliance

Counterpart Projects

A core goal of the Alliance is that patrons at the three institutions use the holdings of the three libraries as if they were one collection. To this end, we have created a union catalog of the Information Alliance libraries' holdings, to which we will soon add a module permitting patrons to initiate interlibrary loan requests. We will also soon implement expedited document delivery among the three libraries through a contracted courier service.

For the Alliance to achieve its goal, we will need to move beyond "passive" resource sharing as now practiced through interlibrary loan. We will need to build collections in a coordinated fashion to increase the likelihood that our patrons can find pertinent research resources at one of the Alliance libraries. If we can increase the number of unique program-related materials within our aggregate collections and simultaneously reduce the waiting period for delivery of these materials, we will have significantly improved the quality of our collections service to our patrons.

As a first step in coordinated collection building, we are arranging a series of meetings of bibliographers who select in similar subject areas at the three libraries. The meetings provide a forum where the bibliographers can share information about the programs at their institutions and the nature of the collections they build and maintain to support those programs. A desired outcome of the meetings is that bibliographers begin to work toward identifying areas within their subjects where one of the libraries could build a strong monographic collection rich in highly specialized materials. In every subject each of the three libraries can become primary collectors in well-defined subdisciplines, enabling the other libraries to reduce their acquisition of highly specialized monographs. The result should be a joint collection featuring less duplication of little used materials (all three libraries would, of course, continue to acquire core titles) but a broader range of research level resources.

It is not expected that the initial meetings will produce a final agreement about shared collecting responsibilities. Rather, the meetings will begin the process. Once bibliographers have established contact, they can continue their deliberations through email, conference calls and, if necessary, additional meetings. Within a few months of the initial meeting they will draft a written plan of cooperation.


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