ICT and InformationLibrary Science

Library Consortia: Meaning, Definition and Growth

Naushia Parveen (n.d.)

Introduction:

Information is considered as a vital resource for communication or dissemination of knowledge of one individual to another from the very early stage of human civilization. It is the basis of education and is an essential ingredient for new ideas. For effective use of information, it is necessary that it should be shared. The tremendous information revolution and proliferation have brought about drastic changes to the function and services in all type of libraries in India during last two decades. Information exchange or sharing of information takes mode of cooperation. The mode of cooperation has gone under a transformation with infusion of new information technology from print based environment to digital environment. Cooperation among institutions for sharing their library resources is being practiced for decades. The study of Nagarjuna (2005) explained that cooperation for information; resource sharing is a well beaten track for information professionals though sometimes it has been referred to a library networking or library resource sharing.

Resource sharing in libraries is not a new concept. It has long been used to improve access and service through borrowing and lending from other libraries. Cooperation and sharing have been transformed by information technology and the move from a print to a digital environment. Recent developments in library funding and the growth in importance of electronic materials have led to a change in thinking about libraries cooperation and the growth of formal cooperative body like Library Consortia.

However, technological advances and changes in the form of resources from print to electronic medium has led to rapid proliferation of several information resources in the form of E-Books, Web Journals, Online Databases and E-Reference works. Co-operation can take place either at local, national or international level. Dobrzyliska )2007( studied that in the past, we were able to observe close co-operation at the national level between libraries in similar disciplines for instance, cooperation of groups of medical, technical and economics libraries. This form of co-operation has existed until today. At the beginning of the 1990’s, a new configuration of library co-operation was initiated, that is, co-operation between libraries in various disciplines. Consortium aimed at choosing, purchasing and implementing the same integrated library system.

Primary purpose of establishing a Library Consortium is to share physical resources including books and periodicals, among members of particular organization or institution. However, increasing number of publishers is using the internet as a global way to offer their publications to the international community of users. Consortium plays a very important role in the field of library and information centers for resources sharing because it provides better sharing options of available resources in E-format. The primary reason for founding consortia open associations of information services in the Czech Republic seem to be the possibility of obtaining access to extensive and highly expensive information sources under more convenient conditions than if each of the participating institutions had to organize this access separately. Considering the prices, to purchase, respire such sources individually would be out of the question for the absolute majority of existing consortia members. Another reason is the need for solving certain concrete problems of the information practice that applies to a larger number of libraries and information services. Treatment of those problems exceeds the potential of individual institutions and is ineffective and complicated.

Consortium’s have been one of the basic concepts in the field of libraries since the second half of 20th century. Information centers have failed to meet the user demands as the number of international publications increased and this in turn, has forced them to share documents and develop common collections, while it also paved the way for consortiums. Inter-library loans, document delivery, establishment of union catalogs were also among the main activities of consortiums, in the same time in which printed publications were dominating. Electronic publications have dominated the information services since the second half of 1990’s. As a result, consortiums have quickly become widespread internationally and concentrated their activities mainly on buying the same databases together with the others.

Anderson (2004( explored in his worked that information professionals have to learn and be aware of the different media in which resources are available in order to be able to provide them. They also have to deal with all the different products and packages that are on offer as well as benchmark and then, choose the best according to the needs of the patrons. This situation places a great deal of stress on the professionals where, on one and they have to brush up on the knowledge of technology/ tools. On the other hand, learn new management skills working in cohesion with groups of institutions and their policies.

Concept of Consortia:

The concept of consortium perhaps originated or evolved from the concept of cooperation, coordination and collaboration. Consortium is originated from Latin word “Consor” where con indicates the meaning of together and “sor” describes meaning of partnership, association or society. The published literature indicates that the concept is not new and it refers to co-operation, co-ordination and collaboration between libraries for the purpose of sharing information resources. A consortium could be described as a group of organizations who come together to fulfill a combined objective that usefully requires co-operation or the sharing of resources and need to have a clear mutual goal in order to ensure their success. Consortia consist of elaborate committee structures, full time staff and executive directors, web pages, policies, procedures and the panoply of an organization to be taken seriously. They are beginning to include other type of organization as well as libraries, museums, hospitals, research groups and historical societies.

The consortium with its collective strength of participation institutions has attracted highly discounted rates of subscription coupled with most favorable terms of agreement. A successful consortium should be based on geographic proximity, a period of maturation, involvement of front line library staff and a clear understanding of the libraries common objectives. Working in consortia and subscribing to many resources also implies an upgrade and adaptability to new tools and technology. The nature of activity of the libraries is an important factor for the tenancy to cooperate and establish consortia. Bansode (2007) found a consortium to be a co-operative arrangement among groups or institutions or an association or society. Consortia are commonly formed to increase the purchasing capacity of the collaborating institutions, to expand the resource availability and to offer automated services.

Library Consortia: Meaning, Definition and Growth:

The exact date of the introduction of the term ‘Library Consortia’ is not clear, but the meaning of consortia as being an association or partnership has long being a principle of librarianship. However, libraries had not used it widely until 1980. Shachaf (2003( worked on that Library Consortia, a new kind of library cooperation, were created as a spontaneous reaction to the journals crisis and the new e-Environment. A Library Consortium formation can be local, regional, state, national and inter institutional level. Library Consortia development processes were examined from an ecological approach, combining historical perspective, dynamic developmental approach and social structure, stressing the issues of permeable boundaries in Library Consortia and the manifestation of inter-organization relationships.

Traditionally library cooperation meant sharing collections in some way but it could also seen in sharing of services or processes such as joint cataloguing of materials or of staff and user training .In general, most libraries kept their autonomy and consortia involvement was a peripheral library services. There are areas in which no libraries irrespective of its size can be entirely self—sufficient. This problem is solved through forming Library Consortia for information resource sharing. Unlike many other service activities, libraries do not have strong competition among themselves because their target populations are usually divided along organizational or geographical boundaries. An academician conducts his/her research mainly through his/her own institutions library and local community usually uses the local for its information needs. Electronic publishing and telecommunication have enabled Library Consortium to expand both in number and functions over the last decade.

A Library Consortium is a group of two or more libraries that have agreed together to cooperate with each other in order to fulfill certain similar needs usually resource sharing. It is not about sharing the resources but also improving access of information. Library Consortium is a community which has formally agreed to coordinate cooperates or consolidate certain function to achieve mutual objectives. Pandian (2003) discussed that the Consortium term is now used perhaps too broadly and encompasses everything from formal legal entities such as incorporated or government agencies to informal groups that comes together solely to achieve better pricing for purchasing electronic information.

Definitions of Library Consortia:

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, “Consortium is an agreement, combination or group as of companies, formed to undertake an enterprise beyond the resources of any one member”.

Cambridge online dictionary, defined “Consortium is an organization of several business or banks, joining as a group for a shared purpose”.

Aldrich, Bolton and Sasaki (1998) assessed the meaning that “Consortia usually involve horizontal collaboration among direct competitors”.

Hirshon (1999) explained that “Library Consortia is a generic term to indicate any group of libraries that are working together towards a common goal whether to expand cooperation on traditional library services such as collection development or electronic information services”.

According to Allen and Hirshon (1998), “the most important development for academic libraries during the current decade has been the move towards growth from organizational self sufficiency to a collaborative survival mode as epitomized by the growth of Library Consortia”.

Oxford English Dictionary defined “Consortium as an association typically of several companies for a common purpose, it is an association of similar type of organization who are engaged for producing and servicing the common things for providing services for a specific purpose of its users”.

According to American Heritage Dictionary, “A Consortium is said to be a cooperative arrangement among group of institution or an association or society”.

In another words we can say that “Library Consortium would be the coming together of libraries to achieve a common goal that is beyond what an individual library could achieve on its own”.

Growth of Library Consortia:

Library Consortium development is rooted in the history of library cooperative efforts and is now also driven by the needs to provide remote users with licensed access to electronic resources. Many libraries in India till today are not in a Academic Position to afford to procure all documents and subscribe to core journals in major disciplines or CD—ROM databases. Biswas (2003) explored that in India the concept of Library Consortia emerged with the birth of library networks. Library networks started with initiatives of NIS SAT in forming CALIBNET in 1986, DELNET (Developing Library Network) in 1988 and INFLIBNET (Information and Library Network) in 1988, to promote resource sharing. There are many libraries in India, have setup consortia among themselves for resource sharing. On national level, INFLIBNET has taken initiation about a formidable change in developing an adequate infrastructure in libraries to be a part in the networked environment.

Kemdarne (2012) reviewed that the common form of library cooperation began with the sharing of union catalogue, storage facilities, collection development and human resources at local, regional and national level so as to provide an efficient service for their and users. The other form of cooperation was based on inter library loans services. In the present day, context the Library Consortia have changed and moved on to digitization, preservation and virtual reference service since many libraries started getting automated and used computer for bibliographic processing activities and database searching. Bostick (2001) studied that the United States has a long tradition of library cooperation. Library Consortia have existed there for over a century and have gone through several phases of development. The first phase was in the late nineteenth century, when the American Library Association formed the Cooperation Committee, which was later renamed to the Committee on Coordination. The Library of Congress began a cooperative cataloging program in the early 1900’s to distribute cataloging information and cards to participating libraries on a nation-wide basis.

An early academic consortium was the Triangle Research Libraries Network. The earlier ones were developed mainly to share collections and occasionally to combine buying power. Many types of libraries, including academic, public, school, medical and other special libraries formed similar groups. In the United States, the biggest impetus for the development of formal Library Consortia occurred after 1960 when automating library processes became a possibility. For many libraries, forming or joining consortia was the only way that they were able to afford expensive integrated library systems. By the late 1960’s, consortia were being formed specifically to acquire library automation products for the members, thus setting the stage for the current consortia movement.

Many academic Library Consortia were created as part of larger academic cooperative groups, where the universities included libraries in a larger agreement between two or more institutions. The Triangle Research Libraries is an early example of this practice. It is still a common way to form resource sharing among groups. Other Library Consortia require that the parent institution, not the library, be the official member, with all activity and governance generally delegated to the library. Increasingly, individual states are creating Library Consortia, some linking all academic, public and sometimes school libraries in the state. As with the consortia of the late 1960’s, that cooperated to purchase integrated library systems, automation is still a strong reason for cooperation but its definition has expanded to include a variety of electronic resources.


Library Consortia: Need and Features:

Why Library Consortia:

  • Information explosion: The explosion of information in multidimensional form and voluminous development has urged the libraries to adopt new philosophies and technologies for collection development and reduce costs of information. Today, society is suffering from information explosion, where it has become difficult to understand what is right or wrong. Information is exploiting in many forms and it is impossible to acquire all the form for any individual library. In that case it has become essential to acquire resources through Library Consortia.
  • Diversity of user needs: Requirement of user is ever growing and varies from user to user. Users have different nature and taste. They need a wide spectrum of information due to information explosion, presence of multi-discipline, specialization of subjects etc. It is difficult to acquire all the martial required by user so as to fulfill their individual requirement. No library can meet their demands with their own resources. Library can share the resources via Consortia for its fulfillment.
  • Professionalization of library services: Role of library professionals has been changed from mere conservator to facilitator of knowledge. Major functions of a librarian are to identify, select, procure, organize, preserve and disseminate information. Rapid changes have taken place in all the areas. It has posed great challenge for librarians to remain at the front-line of the profession.
  • Financial crunch: Today most of the libraries are faced with economic problems and suffering from financial crises, especially in developing countries to collect all the new generated information and to satisfy the high degree of aspiration for knowledge of the users. It has to acquire all the resources in limited funds. Library Consortia can solve this problem up to the limit. Cooperative efforts usually an economic motivation and that incentive continue today.
  • Rapid technological developments: Rapid technological development has resulted in a constant pressure for new hardware, software and education trading of library staff which requires a cooperative venture. The rapid progress of information technology through research and development activities all over the world, now tries to satisfy the information need of human being in diverse manner.
  • Impossibility of self-sufficiency: Information demand of the user to a greater extent is beyond the control of the capacity of librarians, much of the exercise rests on the input resources and it becomes impossible to be self sufficient by the library. Ramireddy (2011)

Features of Library Consortia:

  • Round the clock availability: Library Consortia provides round the clock availability of information and resources to the users.
  • E-Publishing: Library Consortia promotes e-Publishing of information variously.
  • Direct purchase from publisher: Library Consortia assists in direct purchasing from publisher. It is the cooperative task to reduce the cost of purchase. As a result end users can take benefits of more resources than would be available through one library.
  • Staff development: It is helpful in developing efficiency of staff and results in staff development.
  • Easy interaction: Library Consortia provides easy interaction with quality of service.
  • Research and development activities: Library Consortia supports research and development activities and proves very helpful in growth of research related activities.
  • Back volume of information: Library Consortia proves very helpful and supporting in providing back volume of information.
  • Language barrier: Information is publishing in various formats and languages regardless of place, race, nation etc. Library Consortia make it possible, sharing of information and resource in different formats or languages etc. In this way, it avoids barrier of language.
  • Sharing of resources: Sharing is an important task for using resources at different formats for different purposes. Library Consortia promotes sharing of resources which make it easy to handle information in different platform.
  • Different subscription level: It provides different subscription level of different publishers and reciprocal borrowing.
  • Collection development policy: Library Consortia assists in building collection of document at national and international level and in planning of a policy for development of collection for a library/institution/organization etc.
  • Avoids space problem: It avoids space problem as using Library Consortia one don’t need to purchase or acquire every resource in the library.
  • Development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) environment: It helps in development of ICT environment which make possibility of obtaining best reading for the largest number per institution.
  • Economy in financial resources: It makes more effective use of central financial sources economy in maintaining and access to unsubscribed materials.
  • Effective and cheaper operation: Library Consortia creates more effective and cheaper operation in the library.
  • Problem solving: Library Consortia proves problem solving as it is difficult to be influenced by the individual institutions.
  • Joint licensing: It results in better term of license and provides joint licensing of resources in all formats.

Library Consortia: Functions

  • Nodal Agency: To act as a nodal agency for increasing the cooperation amongst the participating institutions.
  • Coordination: To coordinate all activities concerned with subscription of e-resources on behalf of consortium and to stimulate for further co-operation between libraries and information centers.
  • Set up work groups: To set up work groups on different subjects and organize their meetings with an aim to improve the functioning of consortium as well as identify new resources and evaluate the existing resources.
  • Maintenance: To maintain a web site for the consortium for the benefit of its members and to encourage sharing of resources in an online mode.
  • Review the progress: To review the progress of consortium at various stages and also review progress on other related issues like discontinuation of print or e-journals etc.
  • Propagation: To propagate the Consortium with other institutions and enroll new members into the consortium.
  • Agreement: To make a concrete agreement needed to be established for the participating libraries in consortia to achieve a common target.
  • Smooth administration: To establish a rational fort and to run for the smooth administration of Library Consortium.
  • Joint venture: To look after that all the participating libraries under Library Consortia must work jointly just like a joint venture in business sector to make it a total success.
  • Annual meetings: To organize annual meetings of consortium members.
  • Access to electronic resources: To provide access to electronic resources and integrating them into library programs.
  • Bridging the gap: To bridging the gap between resource rich and information resources deficient libraries.

Consortia Models and Perquisite for formation of Consortia:

Library Consortiam

  • Open Consortia: This type of consortia is open ended and member libraries have the freedom to join or leave from consortium at any time. In this case publishers define a minimum number of libraries for the consortium to take off, at a specific rate per product. INDEST consortium, run by ministry of human resources department government, of India is an example of this type of consortia.

  • Closed Group Consortia: This type of consortia formed by the same type of member and has a common need to cross the resources in specific area. Here the formation and operation of the consortia guidelines and its administration are fairly easy ad simple. CSIR, DAE, IIM are examples of this type of consortia.

  • Centrally Funded Model: This type of Consortium depends on the central funding agency and parent body shoulders the financial responsibility of running the consortia. INDEST, UGC INFONET, CSIR, ICMR, MCIT are examples of this model.

  • Share Budget Model: This type of consortia comes out with the appropriate sharing of funds with of participation member. The management of fund is individually handled. IIM and FORSA are examples of this model.

  • Publishers Initiatives: Publisher offered a deep discount consortium price to participating libraries on national level. SCIENCE DIRECT, EMRALD are examples of this type of model.

  • Specific Group Consortia: These types of consortia deal with specific group. LISA plus consortia of university library is example of this type of model.

  • Subject based Consortia: These types of Consortia deal with specific subject. FORSA, UGC, DAE are examples of this type of model.

  • Regional Consortia: These types of Consortia covers specific region. Chandigarh Library Consortia is example of such type of Consortium.

  • E-Journal Consortia: INDEST, JIM Consortia, ICAR Consortia are examples of E-JOURNAL Consortia.

  • National Consortia: This model of consortia covers national level licensing of product like INDEST, UGC INFONET and is called national level consortium.

  • International Consortia: In this consortium libraries belonging to different countries participate. This may be formed either by the individual libraries such as OCLC or by bringing different national consortia under one umbrella.


Prerequisite for Consortia Formation:

Lal (2012) described various factors responsible for formation of Library Consortia. Consortia approach offers an attractive solution to many outstanding problems of participating libraries, need of sharing existing physical resources, purpose of identifying and addressing the common needs arise from developments in information technology.

  • Hardware: It must necessarily be a Pentium PC/ Server which would support modular enhancements likes CD Writer, document Scanner, CD Net and other network elements.
  • Software: It composed of different components like operating system, which could be either commonly used Windows or UNIX, LINUX etc and any library software which would enhance handling in house resources in an information centre.
  • Netware: One of the major elements for successful Library Consortia is a good network infrastructure in addition to LAN. The campus internet connectivity with a decent bandwidth has to be provided. This could be made possible only with dedicated telephone line and must also be supplemented by fax facility.
  • Human Ware: Library personnel need to be trained in using latest gadgets with which relevant information is stored, analyzed and disseminated to potential users. Training must also be given to library staff to create databases of library documents.

Library Consortia: Membership, Governance, Funding and License:

Membership in a consortium is a serious commitment for a library. It may involve a significant payment in membership dues and other necessary fees, although not all are expensive to join. Some are free and some have very modest membership dues. Patrick (1972) stated that in India, there is no fixed structure of membership while some consortia are open ended and provides facility for the libraries to join and leave as they please .Generally, large consortia create different level of membership, all institutions join the consortia gain the advantage of expanding their individual collections, when taking advantage of the other material of different collections, the individual member benefits by being a part of the consortia. The consortia get better financial resources because of increasing buying power of the number of institutions in its membership. This increased power sometimes libraries may be required to put a considerable amount of staff time towards consortia activities such as committee work, increased loan volume, the amount of staff, time requires etc, varies by type of consortium and type of activity but staff participation is essential to most successful consortia. Sometimes membership comprises universities who shared book collections through reciprocal borrowing and inter library loans an online library system containing multiple electronic resources and cooperative storage facility. Consortium will have electronic access to the full text of journals etc.

Governance:

Consortia tend to be governed by boards of directors. Sometimes, this board is a subset of another board particularly if the consortium is a part of a larger non library group. Often the board of director is the top level of consortium management. In India, the different academic Library Consortia are governed by different governing bodies. The CSIR E-Journal Consortium is governed by NISCAIR as coordinator with setting up of monitoring/steering committee, task force team and nodal officers from all albs, expenditure finance committee, negotiations committee etc. INDEST AICTE Consortium operates through it headquarters set up at IIT, Delhi under a national steering committee consisting of members from amongst beneficiary institutions. A national review committee has also been set up with an overall responsibility for making policies, monitoring the progress and coordinating with UGC and AICTE for promoting the activities of INDEST AICTE Consortium.

UGC INFONET Digital Library Consortium is governed by management committees consisting of.

  • Governing council-highest and decision making body and Governing board consisting of subject experts.
  • Committee under the governing board, various committees are formed such as negotiation committee, financial committee and expert committee etc. HELNET has a board of management constituted by RGUHS with…
  • The Vice Chancellor as its chairman of the board.
  • The University Librarian as co-coordinator.
  • The Registrar and the Finance Officer as ex-officio members.
  • Members from demand of faculties nominated by the university. Faculty committees are constituted by the board for each discipline to guide HELNET in the selection of resources for the consortium.

The CeRA is governed by the establishment of a CeRA co-ordination cell for negotiation and subscription of E-Journals and formation of mandatory committees for guiding and monitoring the wok of the Consortium. The committees under CeRA are

  • National steering committee.
  • Consortium working committee to consider day to day activities and suggest suitable actions.
  • CeRA monitoring committee for monitoring and negotiations with publishers. ICMR E-Journals Consortium works under guidance of the national level steering committee and the national level finance commit constituted after the approval of competent authority.

Funding:

The growth in importance of electronic materials has led to a change in thinking about how libraries cooperate and the growth of formal cooperative entities. Library funding methods for consortia are as varied as the types of consortia. Some are wholly funded by a source other than the membership. The consortium must aim for integration with its environment, in order to coalesce with publishers, vendors and libraries. Too little integration will result in isolation, reducing consortia effectiveness and perhaps leading to eventual dissolution. Often a governmental body and membership is free of charge. Most, however, use some sort of dues structure. Dues can vary from nominal to several depending on the services provided, the number of consortium staff and the nature of the projects undertaken by the consortium. Pant. et al( 2011) stated that increasingly, Consortia are taking a more entrepreneurial approach and attempt to create sustainable funding models. Resource allocation and equitable spending are current funding issues, especially when licensing large, ex-pensive databases to a number of libraries.

Licenses:

Consortia tend to be governed by a Board of Directors. Sometimes this board is a subset of another board, particularly if the consortium is part of a larger, non-library group. Often, however, the Board of Directors is the top level of Consortium management. Xenidou (2001)) presented the model which is a full Board of Directors, can become quite unwieldy for decision making in larger consortia, so a smaller governing council is often used, elected by the full board and reporting back to them. Boards generally elect officers from among themselves and these officers comprise the governing council. It is common practice to hire a coordinator, or executive director, to manage the routine activities and coordinate the daily work. This person is usually hired by the Board of directors and is responsible to them. The executive director is in direct contact with all the member libraries and over-sees the committee work and other activities performed by the member libraries staff. This type of Academic Position is becoming a viable career option in the library community. Larger consortia often have a staff reporting to the executive director. The staff many be as small as one part-time person. However, a consortium office staff can include a number of people, some with specialization in such areas as contract negotiation and member training programs. The Board of Directors sets the agenda for the consortium. This requires that the members of the board, who are usually the directors of the member libraries, be able to see more than just their individual library needs and look at what is for the greater good of the entire group. At times, this can cause conflict, especially when a proposed consortium goal does not meet a goal of the individual library.

This is particularly true in multi-type consortia, where different types of libraries must find commonalities. It can also be found in consortia where the members include a mix of library governance, such as publicly funded and privately funded university libraries. Thus, it is considered good practice for a consortium board, to develop a mission statement that articulates the group’s philosophy, with many consortia place on their web pages, as well as a plan of action agreeable to all members. In general, this will include a statement as to the level of participation expected of members. For example, some require the participation of all members in licensing agreements, while others do not. This decision can greatly affect negotiations with vendors, some of whom want total participation to obtain consortia rates, so it is an important point to consider. Participation in one or core consortia set a specific cultural tone for an individual library and may require a reassessment of its collections and services.

Although there are guidelines which are accepted by the Library Community, various problems still exist and are governing the negotiation process with publishers.

Maskell (2009) described the most important issues are:

  • The provision of access to the electronic information by non-registered uses on site.
  • The use of the electronic files to generate electronic copies for electronic document delivery to other university libraries.
  • Guarantees on the permanent storage, archiving of the information and the conditions for access in perpetuity.
  • The separation of electronic data and the applications. Several publishers desperately want to provide only access to their material in their preferred manner of form.
  • Seamless linking between bibliographic data acquired from intermediaries and the full text from different publishers in order to provide an integrated access to heterogeneous information.


Library Consortia: Challenges

Arora and Agarwal (2003) explored in their work that Library Consortia are facing new and different challenges. In addition to the traditional goals for resource-sharing and group purchases, they are look at other projects. Through collaborative efforts, libraries can try new ideas and take risks that they could not do on their own. Libraries continue to join together to share resources, to the consortia movement has endured for many years and has retained the original philosophy of sharing resources and strength in numbers, while constantly determining new directions for library cooperation. The Library Consortia movement is growing and expanding. It is stronger than ever before.

  • Marketing Libraries: Consortia can be a great benefit to member libraries in publicizing their collections and services, as well as the Consortiums work.
  • Political Action: Consortia are increasingly involved in political action. For example, in the United States a major concern is the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act, known as UCITA, which will have a profound effect on software licensing. Many American library groups oppose UCITA, and Consortia are working together to both understand its implications and provide a united response to it.
  • Virtual Catalogs: Virtual catalog is both within a consortium and among consortia are another popular activity, particularly in those consortia where the members do not use the same integrated library system. Virtual catalogs of this sort, and the delivery options that go along with them, are emerging technologies and will soon become more commonplace. Olen and Smed (2011) stated, delivery of materials, with or without a virtual catalog, is an important problem that does not have one specific solution. Web portals are becoming an increasingly important component of a consortium work.
  • Developing ICT: Information and Communication Technology has touched every aspect of life due to its tremendous capacity to provide exceptional power. Consortia can play an important tool in providing resources with ICT application.
  • Hosting distance education classes and programs: It requires more attention.
  • Disaster preparedness: It lacks readiness to put into quick use by scholars.
  • Achieve stronger influence over the quality of the product: It required qualitative resources sharing to result in effective document delivery service and to increase the research productivity of the institutions in both terms qualitative and quantitative.
  • Combine their buying power for better prices: It brings pressure on commercial publisher to reduce the growth rate in the cost of information and to bring down the unit cost of information.
  • Determine publisher and vendor policies: The subscriptions have steadily eroded since funds available to universities have not been able to cover the rising cost of the literature. Policies should be determined for publisher and vendors.
  • Address an ever-changing array of needs and services: Consortium should be focuses changing needs and services of the present scenario.

Library Consortia: Advantages and Limitations:

Advantages of Library Consortia:

  • Increase the access base: Library Consortia with the dawn of internet era are compelled to provide relevant information essential to its end user within a short span of time either from its in house holdings or from resources available in other libraries.
  • Rational utilization of funds: Consortia identify priority for funding within libraries and to be proactive in influencing national agendas/priority for funding for research support.
  • Gateway of information: Library Consortium functions as a central gateway for users, to access locate transform and utilize information resources in a variety of printed and electronic formats via applications, databases etc.
  • Ensure continues subscription: Consortia based subscription to electronic resources provides access to wider number of electronic resources continues and at substantially lower cost.
  • Qualitative and Quantitative resources: It provides the community with physical and virtual access to the shared resources having qualitative and quantitative value of all libraries.
  • Enhancing the visibility image of the library: It publicizes and disseminate information about libraries and its activities as widely as possible in appropriate context.
  • Improve existing library services: Consortia promotes improvement in existing library services which helps in boosting professional image
  • Harness developments: A consortium proves to be very effective in harness development in IT, facilitating building digital libraries.
  • Access to wider number of e-resources : It come up with the newly generated knowledge published in different forms, such as printed and non printed documents, electronic media on various disciplines, multi disciplinary and new generated subject area.
  • Optimum utilization of funds: Through Library Consortia, member intuitions can subscribe electronic resources at highly discounted rates of subscription.
  • Seamless access easy and round the clock access: A consortium provides seamless and east access and resource sharing on internet by creating databases among the libraries.
  • No fear of wear, tear and thefts: Library Consortia promotes use and sharing of electronic resources which demand neither library space nor shelling cost nor can they by ear or tear and nor they can be stolen from the library.
  • Helpful in proving better library services : Library Consortia are considered now a medium of proving better libraries services as enhanced library services are provided with an emphasis on access to new electronic resources including online databases and services offered through the internet and World Wide Web.
  • Cost sharing for technical and training support: Use of Library Consortia proves cost sharing for providing training and technical support.
  • License for use, archival access and preservation of subscribed electronic resources: The consortium facilitates the library to get benefit for wider access to electronic resources at affordable cost and at the best terms of licenses. The consortium have been offered better terms of licenses for use and archival access.
  • Available comprehensive collection: Consortia are very helpful in developing suitable collection and acquisition policy.
  • Eliminate the need for different passwords for each titles : Use of Library Consortia reduces the need for passwords for every title accessibility.
  • Improve better resource sharing: It provides each institution with the ability to share resources without sacrificing the individuality.
  • Electronic document delivery to user via the libraries : It provides electronic document delivery to the end user which promotes easy access to electronic resources.
  • Virtual reference services: It provides a platform for online and virtual reference service to researchers.

Limitations of Library Consortium:

  • Special skills in handling e-resources: Library Consortia required special skills in handling E-Resources.
  • High initial investment: It required high initial investment in licenses and Information Communication Technologies.
  • Rights direct access: The problem of access rights, direct access from publishers and through nodal agency by mounting the database on them.
  • Information technology: It suffers from limitation of information technology.
  • Unreliable telecommunication link: Library Consortia consists of unreliable telecommunication link which creates hurdles in communication among member institutions.
  • Insufficient bandwidths: Sometimes Library Consortia consists of insufficient bandwidths which require necessity of Internet access ID.
  • Back Up of databases: The problem of back up of databases after discontinuation from the Library Consortium.
  • Problems of e-journals: The users are not accepting E-Journals as with print journals .They even now feel difficult to download, acquire and access it.
  • Insufficient service: A Library Consortium deals with shortcomings in respect of insufficient mutual information service provided to user.
  • Lack of coordination: Library Consortia are lacking for co-ordination of present activities and preparation of new ones. Integration already acquired information sources and their interconnection with book catalogues, collective catalogue etc.
  • Long term perspective: Library Consortium require long term perspective from state assistance in concerned field.
  • Excessive contribution fee: Library Consortia suffers from it as sometimes organizing body may charge excessive contribution fee which is quite high and dependent on their will.
  • Bureaucracy: Since there is no completion, so bureaucracy may arise in a Library Consortium.
  • Subscription Cost: The source of funding to meet subscription cost is another problem because it requires a major investment at the initial stage to develop necessary infrastructure and purchasing of computers and other equipment. There is aggregate chance of manipulation of funds.

Summary:

Thus we can say that, Library Consortia is described as a group of organizations whose purpose is to collectively facilitate and support the work of a service program in ways that add material and human resources beyond those available to each organization/individual. The aim should be to deliver more than the sum of the individual parts .A consortium approach is the ideal solution in a situation of scarcity of funds but it is not without its challenges. The concept is considered to be a metamorphosis brought by the fast changing information environment for supporting better library services through joint actions. The development of Library Consortia is the only panacea to overcome all the barriers of resource sharing programs. In a developing country like India different steps are being taken to disseminate information more or less in all subjects’ areas especially in science and technology. Any set of objectives will only achieved if there is willingness to join together and to believe that more will be achieved through efforts of the whole than an individual level.

In the present age, access to information resources is more important than the collection building. Libraries in India are facing a lot of problems due to static budget and growing prices of library collection. A lot of efforts have been taken in past few years to overcome the problem of finance by resource sharing thorough consortia. It is impossible for a single library to monitor all the explosion of knowledge filed and accumulate for the users.

The libraries with their diminishing or at the best static financial allocations have to consider new ways to consolidate global resources amongst them in order to maximize their financial resources. The combination of these developments has resulted in development of shared subscription or consortia based subscription to journals everywhere in the world.

The consortia cooperation is in reality, a step towards inter institutional libraries as autonomous entities where libraries pools shares of their funds for collection development into mutual commitments. There is no doubt that consortia will be able to deliver the goods for more effectively and efficiently than individual libraries. The existence of various Library Consortia in different parts of the world has illustrated one principle. A successful consortium has to have clear goals, a coherent membership and a structure that matches its goals and membership.

In the light of above discussion establishment of better Consortium integrating intellectual access are all the distinct steps moving towards the 21st century libraries. There must be accessibility to the variety of information reserves particularly in an environment of proliferating electronic information resources in order to education, research and lifelong learning. It would therefore be best to consult with the established consortia to achieve this goal.


Original Reference Article:

  • Parveen, N. (nd). Perception and use of library consortia among scientists in Agricultural Institutes of Uttar Pradesh. Retrieved from: http://hdl.handle.net/10603/190230
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Md. Ashikuzzaman

Work at North South University Library, Bangladesh.

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