College & Research Libraries News

Four paradigms for sharing library resources

By Marian Ritter

Music Librarian Western Washington University

Current levels of service can be maintained only through cooperation.

Cooperative collection development is an important partial solution to the dilemma of rising inflation and declining revenues. Although resource sharing can never substitute for building core library collections, it holds enormous promise as a means to acquire access to very expensive items, especially ones that are infrequently used. Four variants of resource sharing—three in the Pacific Northwest and one in the San Francisco Bay area—suggest strategies for distributing acqui- sitions coverage among libraries. It is only by such cooperation that current levels of service can be maintained, let alone improved, in a fiscal climate that shows no sign of becoming more favorable.

In 1983, six university libraries in Washington state negotiated a shared-purchase contract for The Eighteenth Century Collection, a microfilm collection being published in units that cost $175,430 for a standing order. The Washington universities adopted an agreement required of the University of California system by the California legislature. Under these terms, the six libraries are bound by a written agreement and payment schedule. According to the contract, the Eighteenth Century Collection will be purchased from Research Publications by the University of Washington in Seattle. The Collection will be housed permanently as part of the microforms collection at the University of Washington Libraries in Seattle. Normally, all units issued annually will be purchased as they are produced. If budgetary constraints at the University of Washington require a reduction in levels of purchase, the university will consult with the other participating institutions to select a suitable level of purchase. The University of Washington will bill each participating library 10% of the annual purchase price each year. If budgetary constraints at a participating institution require it to reduce its level of support, that institution will consult with the University of Washington (which will consult with other participants if appropriate) to make the necessary adjustment. This may include a change in level of participation or in level of total purchase.

Requests by users from participating institutions for material from the collection in Seattle will receive priority handling. Loan charges will be waived. The number of reels loaned on a single request will be six, or twice the number usually permitted for a single transaction. Materials will be sent and returned by first class mail or by other quick delivery methods agreed upon by the partiei - pants. When materials being used by one participant are needed by another, the interlibrary loan librarians will negotiate to find a way to satisfy both users. This may involve temporary recall within a library to duplicate short items (50 pages or less), making a free printout (up to 50 pages) for the second requestor by the first library using the material, short-term return of materials, or another solution. A record will be kept of occasions of dual need and the solutions that were devised, so that an evaluation of the success of the cooperative acquisition can be made. Extended loan periods will be available as needed by users from participating libraries. Use of the Eighteenth Century Collection by non-participating libraries will be restricted, and in all cases, material will be subject to immediate recall by a participating library.

Another experiment in resource sharing is the Pacific Northwest Canadian Studies Consortium (PNCSC), inaugurated in 1990. Twenty-one universities may eventually be involved in the PNCSC, which so far includes the U niversity of Washington, the University of Oregon, Gonzaga University, Lewis and Clark College, Washington State University, and Western Washington University. Unlike the project to acquire the Eighteenth Century Collection, this is a consortium of universities rather than libraries. Western Washington University and the University of Washington are currently working on a union list of serials about Canada, with programming being done at the latter institution. It is hoped that other libraries in the consortium universities will want to add their Canadian periodical holdings to the list.

A third project in the Pacific Northwest, also in its beginning stages, is the Northwest Regional Consortium for Southeast Asian Studies, which brings together the University of British Columbia, the University of Washington, and the University of Oregon. With the assistance of grants from the Ford Foundation and the Luce Foundation, libraries at these institutions are coordinating collection development of Southeast Asian materials, with each university accepting a specific responsibility. Oregon will emphasize material from the Philippines, the University of British Columbia will focus on Indonesia, and the University of Washington will emphasize mainland Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, Indochina, and Malaysia. An operating agreement has now been completed to govern this new arrangement for coordinated collection development.

An important prerequisite for all cooperative projects is efficient exchange and delivery systems. In the Pacific Northwest, a number oflibraries are already linked to the University of Washington Libraries in Seattle via a regular courier service. They include the libraries of Western Washington University and the Boeing and Weyerhaeuser companies, the Seattle Public Library, and the King County Library System. In addition, a jointly funded arrangement between the University of Washington Libraries and the library of the University of British Columbia provides for a weekly commercial service to transport materials between the two institutions as well as other libraries located in the metropolitan areas of Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia. Within Washington state, there is also a Washington Network (State Ground Courier Services).

Effective delivery services are also needed to address one of the thorniest budget problems academic libraries have: the spiralling cost of periodicals. Western Washington University, for example, spends 75% of its acquisitions budget for subscription items—serials and continuations. The problem is nationwide in scope and has been a topic of discussion for several years. It seems obvious that representatives from universities in close proximity should try to cooperate to make serials available to their patrons. Logically, each library should maintain a core collection and, beyond this, participate in an interinstitutional arrangement to access less basic or less frequently used serials. Of course, copyright and fair use questions must be settled before this can work.

The Copyright Clearance Center … instantly conveys limited rights to distribute copies in small quantities at reasonable fees.

The Bay Area Serials Cooperative, modeled on a similar project in the state of N ew York, is one effort to come to grips with the serials dilemma. It brings together the libraries of California State University at Hayward, San Francisco State University, and San Jose State University. The immediate goals of the project are to ensure local availability of serials important to the programs of the three participating institutions, to maintain core collections of essential materials in each library, to assure prompt access to shared materials through augmented document delivery systems, to free resources to meet demands for new materials, and to increase the range of unique serial titles held among the three libraries.

The three participants worked for over a year to develop the project, during which the first round of cancellations was completed. In the first round (during 1989), only journals costing at least $1,000 annually were considered. A list of journals was compiled, designating the university that was obligated to keep a subscription. Each title on this list of expensive journals was retained by at least one library, which agreed to supply the other two with tables of contents of each issue of a cancelled journal. A two-day turnaround for requested materials was established. Information programs were developed, to explain to faculty and students why expensive and seldom-used titles were being cancelled: monies saved would enable libraries to maintain core materials and avoid major cancellation cycles in the future. Faculties were polled regarding their serials priorities. If faculty protest was not received by a designated date, subscriptions were cancelled.

The project is still in its early stages, but it has accomplished the following thus far: (1) each library has purchased a fax machine to speed inter- library loan delivery; (2) the staffs of the interlibrary loan departments have met to develop procedures to handle the increased volume of interlibrary loans efficiently; (3) collection development and serials librarians have begun the process of working out details concerning particular serial and periodical titles; and (4) the institutions have joined the Copyright Clearance Center to meet copyright and fair use regulations. (The non-profit Copyright Clearance Center, Inc., was created in 1977 in accordance with the Copyright Act of 1976, sections 107 and 108 of which allow restricted photocopying of copyrighted material. The Copyright Clearance Center manages a central photocopy permissions and fee system; it does not make photocopies. It instantly conveys limited rights to distribute copies in small quantities at reasonable fees.)

The Bay Area program is one of the options for dealing with the acquisitions crisis being studied in California. The Chancellor’s office that administers the 20 campuses of the California State University system is considering major changes in in- terlibrary loan procedures, based on heavy use of fax.

Music librarians, who have lagged other collection development managers in creating networks, would be particularly well advised to study cooperative projects such as the ones described here, as they search for means to acquire the extremely costly yet necessary items and collections that their institutions require. Of special interest is the promise that resource sharing holds for the acquisition of expensive European music journals, items that— while lightly used—are nonetheless essential to the work of faculty and advanced students.

Beauty and truth: Sigma Xi’s 1990 annual meeting

Sigma Xi’s 1990 annual meeting, held October 26-27 at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, was an excellent illustration of Natalie S. King’s point that librarians could learn a great deal from scientists about making effective presentations (“Letters,” C&RL News, March 1991). “Dimensions of Beauty in Science” was the theme selected by the scientific research honor society. The goal of the program was to explore the beauty of science from the atomic to the cosmic, and the 13 nonconcurrent and nonoverlapping presentations provided an excellent, well-organized overview from a single sequence of accomplished researchers on the 13 topics included in the program.

Most of the researchers took advantage of the meeting’s theme to prepare and deliver a multimedia, full-color presentation of their subject. Technical assistance was provided on a grandiose scale: television monitors and video and slide projection on three giant screens made possible simultaneous access to breathtaking colorful vistas, extending from cosmic overviews, such as “Beauty on the Planetary Scale: A Summary of What Has Been Learned Through Remote Sensing of the Planets” to the microscopic world of cells in butterflies’ wings.

The meeting closed with a most attention-grabbing presentation by the winner of Sigma Xi’s 1990 Procter Prize for Scientific Achievement: Robert D. Ballard, Director of the Center for Marine Exploration, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, who showed spectacular underwater photographs and talked about “Beauty in the Depths of the Ocean.”

We recommend that librarians libingnear Washington, D.C., attend the 1991 Annual Sigma Xi Meeting (probably to be held on a Friday and Saturday in October). If 1991’s presentations are as well organized as 1990’s, you’ll be impressed by how much you’ll learn at the meeting (about content and presentation), which is scarcely advertised beyond a mention in the editorial pages of the Sigma Xi’s banner publication, American Scientist. The low registration fee ($25 in 1990) should encourage anyone interested in knowing the current forefront of research in 10 to 15 disciplines—or seeing state-of-the-art techniques of presentation—to attend and bring students, as many academics in North Carolina did.—Danielle Mihram, Head, Reference Department, Doheny Memorial Library, University of Southern California, and G. Arthur Mihram, P.O. Box 1188, Princeton, NJ 08542

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