Today we are living in the age of information. Information is a dynamic and unending resource that affects all disciplines and all walks of life. Information also supports education, research, and development’. The main functions of an academic library are to acquire information from various sources and to arrange process and disseminate them to satisfy the needs of students, academicians, and researchers in the right form and at the right time.
Resource Sharing becomes more important and inevitable for developing countries like India, where the information centers/libraries are short of funds and resources. Libraries encounter face problem for storing purposes and hence there is a direct need for library networks and resource sharing2. Resource sharing from its elementary concept of inter-library lending, now includes cooperative acquisition, collection development, shared cataloguing, centralized processing, exchange of content page of journals, sharing of bibliographical data, centralized periodicals collection, exchange of electronic documents and articles, obtaining photocopies of articles, etc. In India, in the past two decades, information technology has made significant progress. The current state of information handling is indeed sufficient to support and encourage the sharing resources among libraries. Especially, the present decade has witnessed renewed interest in library cooperation for mutual benefits, at the national and international levels.
Information Transfer and Resource Sharing Through Networking:
With the diversity of information resources, the traditional role of librarians in transfer of information through Inter-Library Loan (ILL) and Document Delivery Service (DDS) has become increasingly complex. To acquire information, electronically transfer information from a central repository into the library or information center that needs the information, or even directly to the client who has requested the information become major operation of the library or an information center. A virtual library would operate in this fashion, with a very small local collection but wide access to global information. The advantages and disadvantages of this electronic collection development are the topic of much discussion within the profession, as indeed is the possibility of developing universal access to any form of digitized information.
Today, in an environment of information and publication explosion, it has become practically impossible for any library to remain self reliant. In a situation of growing demands of the readers and depleting levels of financial resources, no library is able to obtain all the materials on demand.
Resource sharing is a method of overcoming these and other limitations of the individual libraries in respect of their resources by way of cooperation and coordination among the participating libraries.
Definition of Terms:
The term ‘Resource’ applies to any thing, person or action to which one turns for aid in time of need. The word ‘Sharing’ denotes apportioning, allotting or contributing, something that is owned, to benefit others. ‘Resource Sharing’ in its most positive aspects, entails reciprocity, implying a partnership in which, each member has something useful to contribute to others and which, each is willing and able to make available when needed. ‘Library Resources’ however, have been defined in several ways.
According to John Fetterman, “… any and all of the materials, functions, and services which constitute a modern library system… It is … amalgamation of people (manpower), processes, ideas, materials, and money which form the substance of a library and can be described as its resources”.
The American Library Association (ALA) Seminar on Network and Multi-type Library Co-operation defines the term resource sharing as “The co-operative structures, which cross jurisdictional, institutional, and often political boundaries to join in a common enterprise, several types of libraries — academic, special, and public”.
Objectives and scope of Resource Sharing:
Underlying principle of resource sharing is maximum service at a minimum cost. Main objectives of resource sharing are to create a conductive environment in which libraries can offer better services to meet user needs within available limited resources. The area of resource sharing is quite wide, which broadly include all of the materials, functions, and services. Materials and functions include reading materials of all types/formats, acquisition, cataloguing, storage and preservation. Services include all the techniques employed in libraries to establish link between the reader and reading material. ILL and book exchanges also fall into this. Following are a few objectives of resources sharing.
1. Increased Availability and Accessibility of resources: Clientele of the participating libraries will have an access to resources available in all the libraries. Resources can be moved from one library to another manually or through modern means. This provides an easy access to and easy/free flow of information.
2. To Diminish Cost: Resource sharing helps in building specialized collection and all participating libraries need not duplicate the procurement of similar materials. This facilitates availability of larger collection and even the basic material required by the users can be obtained without causing much delay.
3. Resource Exploitation: Resource sharing advocates making reading material of one library available to the clients of other libraries. Thus, the resource sharing exposes the reading materials to a wider group of users. Similarly, the services of a library can be exploited by the users of other libraries.
Co-operative activities like acquisition, exchange, storage, binding, training, reference and documentation services, inter library loans, etc., can also be the part of resource sharing.
On the basis of experience and involvement in resource sharing activities in the area of management, it can be visualized that the management institutes can have the following objectives for their resource sharing initiatives:
- To provide better services
- To provide more coverage of collections and facilities
- To avoid duplication
- To share experiences
- To face financial crunch
- To promote interaction
- To provide wider access to users
- To provide high quality library and information support services.
Areas of Resource Sharing
Keeping in view the need of stake holders of the management institutes as well as the potential information needs of the users of library and information support services provided by management institutes, it is essentially required to identify the various areas for resource sharing activities so that the management of management institutes as well as users are able to enjoy the fruits of resource sharing equitably.
The following areas for resource sharing are identified and these may certainly be beneficial to the management institutes’ environment:
- Collection Building
- Inter Library Loan
- Reference Services
- Contents Page Service
- Centralized Processing
- Human Resources
- Expertise and Facilities
- Data base creation
- Union Catalogue
Needs for Resource Sharing:
Scientific and research based information has a significant contribution for rapid promotion of research, education and development of various other sectors of the economy. It saves a lot of human effort, financial input as well as application of physical and logistic resources otherwise needed to re-invent the wheel every time. It provides vital technical support to keep going on all the scientific endeavors. Sharing of research information through decentralized internet data input has a significance of its own. It is both economical and time saving not only for users but also for the information professionals and document lists. For the cause of economy, information data is prepared, entered, processed, stored and retrieved at a very high speed. Therefore, its utility is many times higher than the conventional means of information sharing.
1. Knowledge Explosion: Research institutions, universities, industrial and commercial organizations and others academic institutions are responsible for knowledge generation. Inter-disciplinary, extra-disciplinary research and emergence of new disciplines have become more important and relevant. Professional activities in R & D also have increased considerably. Procuring all published literature by a library is too difficult, but on the other hand the users have been demanding access to all such available literature.
2. Increase in Library Users: Population explosion, influx of people from rural to urban, education, high priority on research and development have shown liberal use of libraries by all. Increase in user population demands growth in libraries and services, but there is a limit to such growth, as libraries cannot grow beyond a certain point. Due to the increase in users’ demand for diversified information, the libraries are prompted to investigate ways and means for wider range of service and collections. Resource sharing offers practical solutions to these problems.
3. Library Services: Users in the libraries have become more and more information conscious than ever before, demanding effective quality library services. The CAS, SDI, information repackaging and consolidation would not be possible unless libraries share resources. Also the disciplinary interdependence calls for diverse collections of a variety of disciplines, which is not within the capacities and competence of a single library.
4. Acquisition Problems: Increase in publishing output necessitates large intake in libraries to update their collection. This needs a large space to house the collection. Obsolescence of knowledge also calls for weeding of collection. Co-operative acquisition, storage, and services can eliminate the problems of space, balanced collection building, efficient services, etc.
5. Economic Resources: General Price Index everywhere indicates the rising trend. Prices of books and journals have zoomed over the years. This has tremendously affected the purchasing capacity of libraries. In spite of governmental and institutional finance, libraries are not in a position to buy all that is required for their user community. Regular budgetary cuts and introduction of new services and maintenance of staff also have affected the procurement of libraries.
6. Web Based Resource Sharing: Computer and telecommunication technology are playing a vital role in the design and operation of resource sharing systems network. A library network means as a group of libraries are inter-related through different areas. Now, resource sharing among libraries has been accepted as a necessity. These are required for working of large systems on national and international levels also.
Web based resource sharing includes the sharing of resources hosted on the net. It is very important for bibliographic control of the explosion of literature and knowledge. It also avoids duplication in purchase of costly documents. Library web resource sharing is a helpful way to develop the flow of information among the special information centers / libraries and other types of libraries.
The main objectives of web based resource sharing are to:
- Improve the sharing of resources among the member libraries;
- Centralize the information processing system;
- Reduce the communication gap among the libraries;
- Improve ILL productivity with fewer blind requests, automated creation and tracking of requests, and faster turnaround;
- Control ILL costs (For one low transaction charge, we can route each request to many libraries);
- Co-operative collection development;
- Increase use of collections with instant local access;
- A way for all group members to contribute, maintain and access information in the group’s database.
Reference: Venkatachalam, A. M. (2011). Resource sharing among management institute libraries in Tamilnadu A study.