Cooperative Collection Development and Resource Sharing in Library

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Cooperative Collection development:

Cooperative collection development is the method in which two or more libraries agree to have certain areas of primary collecting responsibility and exchange such materials with one another free of cost. This involves physical access through resource sharing, bibliographic access and coordinated collection development and management. The basic objective is to reduce wasteful duplication of intellectual effort and the expenses incurred in providing duplicate coverage of the same material. Participating libraries can increase their resources to provide better services and facilities without increase in expenditure (Khanna, 2001).

Resource sharing involves activities engaged in jointly by a group of libraries for the purposes of improving services and/or cutting costs. Proliferation of literature in every field of knowledge, countless documents in various subjects, languages and formats, emergence of new specializations and subject areas, diversity of user groups, increase in reader community and information seekers etc. have necessitated sharing of resources among libraries.

Resource sharing may be informal or formal and may operate locally, nationally or internationally. Inter library loan (ILL) is the most prevalent form of library co-operation and effective and speedy delivery is central to the success of resource sharing. Bibliographic access to the holdings of other libraries is necessary for cooperation and online shared catalogues and web-based access to online catalogues are a big step in this direction.

Areas of resource sharing in Library:

1. Cooperative acquisition or funding: Centralised agency should handle orders of all libraries for books and periodicals to be acquired against available funds. Also acquires expensive and less used items which are placed either in a central site or in the library with the highest anticipated local use.

2. Cooperative cataloguing: Libraries jointly establish a centralised system of classification and cataloguing either regionally or nationally to avoid duplication, wastage of time, money and labor. It brings uniformity and improve quality in the technical processing of participating libraries.

3. Synergistic approach: different libraries take responsibility to collect in different areas according to some collaborative plan. It divides the universe of information into core and peripheral materials and further divides the periphery among the consortium members.

4. Coordinated weeding and retention reduce costs by sharing responsibilities and take responsibility for retaining materials in certain areas. The practice of last-copy retention is followed where it is ensured that at least a single copy is preserved in the consortium or geographic area before weeding.

5. Coordinated preservation initiatives include shared mass digitization projects like Google Books Library Project which in addition to increasing access to resources also preserves the content for posterity.

6. Union catalogue is an inventory common to several libraries containing all or some of their publications. It gives unified information about collections of different libraries, and makes ILL possible.

7. Cooperative storage: Libraries can join to have a cooperative storage for little used and weeded out reading materials by sharing among themselves the cost involved (Prasher, 2002).

Benefits of Cooperation

Coordinated collection development arrangements provide support for economic and cost-effective collection development, reduction of responsibility to acquire and preserve in certain areas, greater selectivity in certain areas, planned cost reduction, coordination in storing and cancelling materials, coordination of retention policies for little-used materials, last copy, serial back files etc., reduce unwanted redundancy and unintended duplication (Mosher & Pankake, 1983).

Collaboration in the acquisition of e-resources has great advantages for libraries as this provides expanded access to a greater domain of materials than the libraries can independently support. The consortium is able to extract more favorable licensing terms which in turn reduces the cost and time on libraries to involve in license negotiation. Cost allocation for products also varies with consortium; the allocation may be equitable to member libraries of equal size or may have the differential pricing where the cost is proportionally divided according to the size of the user population based on the enrolled users served by the library. Having centralized staff to administer and negotiate contracts also relieves the libraries from engaging in these activities there by saving additional costs.

Problems of coordinated collection development:

The problems include policy failures like lack of coordinated collection development policies and statements, lack of understanding and support from faculty and other groups, failure to reflect institutional program needs and incorporate changes in the programs, negative budget implications like cutting short of budgets, lack of institutional incentives etc., balancing commitment to the needs of local clientele while fulfilling other cooperative needs, ensuring bibliographic access to the total range of information resources available to cooperating libraries, negotiating licensing and ownership agreements when shared use is limited by vendors. It is also a challenge to analyse the costs and benefits of various approaches for providing materials (Association for Library Collections & Technical Services, 1994).

Effective coordinated collection development activities require a desirable balance between the local needs and priorities and the priorities of the larger cooperating group. Successful cooperative initiatives require efficient governance and a high degree of trust between institutions and librarians, competent consortium administrator, clarity and understanding among the partners and a reliable communication system to share policy decisions.

Liaison Activities and Community Outreach

Liaison activities are essential for collection development and management which involves faculty-librarian collaboration in academic libraries. Awareness about faculty’s special interests and needs can help in developing a collection that serves these needs. Faculty liaison activities also include attending academic departmental meetings and special events as a representative of the library, regular meetings with department chairs and library-faculty liaison groups, meeting with new faculty members and informing them about library collection and services, creating mailing lists and making regular announcements of library activities and new arrivals, updating information on library’s websites and newsletter, creating electronic discussion lists, blogs and RSS feeds to share information about new resources, recent acquisitions, library programs etc.


Original Reference Article:

  • Deepa, R. (2017). Information technology Library collection development University libraries of Kerala. India: Alagappa University.

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