Saturday, December 20, 2014

Academic Library Consortia and Networks – Part I P- 04. Information Communication Technology for Libraries

इस ब्लॉग्स को सृजन करने में आप सभी से सादर सुझाव आमंत्रित हैं , कृपया अपने सुझाव और प्रविष्टियाँ प्रेषित करे , इसका संपूर्ण कार्य क्षेत्र विश्व ज्ञान समुदाय हैं , जो सभी प्रतियोगियों के कॅरिअर निर्माण महत्त्वपूर्ण योगदान देगा ,आप अपने सुझाव इस मेल पत्ते पर भेज सकते हैं -

Academic Library Consortia and Networks – Part I

P- 04. Information Communication Technology for Libraries *

By :Usha Munshi,Paper Coordinator



Ongoing usability of a digital resource, retaining all qualities of authenticity, accuracy and functionality deemed to be essential for the purposes the digital material was created and / or acquired for.
A content aggregator is an individual or organization that gathers or license web content from different online sources on a given subject or discipline for reuse or resale. For example EBSCO’s Business Source Premier (BSP) and ABI / Inform Complete are two aggregator for management sciences.
Application Service Provider (ASP)
A business-model where-in a company hosts software and / or hardware platforms / systems and then makes them available to other companies on a rental and or lease basis.
i) An organisation whose function is the preservation of resources, either for a specific community of users, or for the general good; ii) The collection of resources so preserved.


See “Internet Bandwidth”
Bibliographic Databases
A bibliographic database is a database of bibliographic records of books, chapters from books and articles in journal or magazine with links to its full-text. Bibliographic database allows the user to identify publications by author, subject, title, or other search terms. It generally provides full citation to the item, and abstracts and assigned subject headings. SciFinder Scholar, COMPENDEX, INSPEC, are examples of bibliographic databases.


Copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted by Government to its creator for a limited time to protect the particular form, way or manner in which an idea or information is expressed. Copyright may subsist in a wide range of creative or artistic forms or “works”, including literary works, movies, musical works, sound recordings, paintings, photographs, software, and industrial designs. Copyright is a type of intellectual property.


Digital Archive
A collection of digital objects stored for preservation purposes (also called a repository).
Digital Materials
A broad term encompassing digital surrogates created as a result of converting analogue materials to digital form (digitisation), and “born digital” for which there has never been and is never intended to be an analogue equivalent, and digital records.
Digital Preservation
Refers to the series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as necessary. Digital preservation refers to all of the actions required to maintain access to digital materials beyond the limits of media failure or technological change.
Digital Resources
See Digital Materials


Federated Searching
Federated searching aggregates multiple sources of information into a single searchable point. The federated search blends e-journals, subscription databases, electronic print collections, other digital repositories and the Internet.
Full-text Databases
Full-text databases contain the electronic version of entire contents of a document (journal articles, report, paper, etc.) that is available for printing or downloading.


Internet Bandwidth
Internet bandwidth is the transmission speed or throughput of your connection to the Internet.
Interoperability is ability of digital library components and services to be functionally and logically interchangeable by virtue of their having been implemented in accordance with a set of well-defined publicly known interfaces.


A license is an agreement between the publisher and the user wherein the publisher transfers the non-exclusive and non-transferable rights to use materials to the user or licensee. The publishers use license agreements as legal method for controlling the use of their e-resources.
Live Reference Service
See “Real-time Reference Service”


Open Access
An alternative method of scholarly publishing wherein the cost of publishing and dissemination of scholarly content is charged from the authors, their affiliated institutions or funding agencies instead of libraries or its users.
Open System
A system that employs modular design, uses widely supported and consensus based standards for its key interfaces, and has been subjected to successful validation and verification tests to ensure the openness of its key interfaces. An open system is a solution that is non proprietary.


Perpetual Access
Refers to the right to ongoing access to electronic resources. In situations where digital materials are licensed, access to these materials is often lost after the licensing agreement has expired, unless “perpetual access” to digital material is agreed to by the publishers.


Real-time Reference Service
Refers to delivery of personalized real-time reference service to the users outside the boundary of library. Several libraries have started experimenting with offering real-time digital reference service, using chat software (MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, etc.), call counter management software, web contact software, bulletin board services, interactive customer assistance system or related technologies.
An online service (bibliographic or full-text database) accessible to user.


Usage Statistics
Statistics provided by the publishers for use of e-resources by subscribers that shows number of search conducted and number of articles downloaded.


World Wide Web
The World Wide Web (WWW) is the most popular services of Internet. It consists of a network of web pages. Users may view web pages by using a web browser program such as Internet Explorer or Netscape.


Z39.50 is a national standard defining a protocol for computer-to-computer information retrieval. Z39.50 makes it possible for a user in one system to search and retrieve information from other Z39.50 computer systems without knowing the search syntax used by other systems. Z39.50 is an American National Standard that was originally approved by the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) in 1988.

0. Objectives

This module is divided into two parts. This is first part of this module which aims to impart knowledge on the following aspects of academic library consortia and networks:

  • Introduction to library network / consortia
  • History, growth and developments of library network / consortia
  • Library networks in India
  • Definition, needs and benefits of library network / consortia
  • Types and pricing models of library network / consortia
  • Activities and services of a library network / consortia

1. Introduction

Cooperation amongst institutions for sharing the library resources is being practiced for decades to provide cost-effective and efficient services to its users that the libraries individually could not afford. Traditionally, primary purpose of establishing a library network was to share physical resources including books and periodicals amongst members. As collaboration flourished, the networks and cooperatives were focused on automation coupled with the increased use of computers in bibliographic processing activities and database searching. Library cooperatives that were  created primarily for the purpose of a joint catalogue or shared integrated library system  include WALDO (1983), WISPALS (1989), LOUIS (1992), Orbis Cascade Alliance (1993), SUNYConnect (1998), and MOBIUS (1998), etc.

The mode of cooperation has gone under a transformation with infusion of new information technologies from print-based environment to digital environment. The Internet, particularly the World Wide Web (WWW) has emerged as a new way of information delivery which triggered proliferation of web-based full-text online resources.  These revolutionary web based technologies have been driving the emergence and popularity of newer and more effective models of information access and resource sharing around the world. The post-Internet era is witnessing a significant jump in the access to and usage of information. While on one hand, increasing number of publishers are offering electronic access to their publications to the international community of scientists and researchers using Internet technology, on the other hand, libraries and library networks are keeping pace with evolving technologies by redefining their functions and services. These new technologies are continuously driving the library resources to new peaks of usage, significantly beyond the library’s subscribed content. To fulfil high demand of electronic journals and online database with diminishing or at the best static financial allocations, libraries are considering possible ways to consolidate global resources amongst them in order to maximize their resources. The combination of these developments has resulted in development of “Consortia-based subscription” to electronic resources everywhere in the world. 

Consortia-based subscription to electronic resources, on the one hand, permits successful deployment and desktop access to electronic resources at highly discounted rates of subscription, on the other hand, it meets with the increasing pressures of diminishing budget, increased user demands and rising cost of research. The library consortia, on the basis of sheer strength of numbers of institutions, offer healthy business growth opportunities to the electronic publishers and thus attract the best possible price and terms of agreement. With this welcome change, the libraries, all over the world, are forming consortia of all types and flavour at all levels with an objective to take advantage of current global network to promote better, faster and more cost-effective ways of providing electronic resources to the information seekers.

This module is divided into two parts.  The first part of the module defines library network /consortium and outlines its needs and benefits. It describes history, growth and development of library networks /consortia. It also describes types and models of library consortia, prevalent pricing model offered to the library consortia and services and activities of a library network /consortium beyond licensing of electronic resources. The second part elaborates steps involved in managing a library network /consortium and e-resources. It also elaborates on initiatives taken towards library consortia in India.

2. History, Growth and Developments

Library networks and cooperatives were formed as early as the 1930s essentially to provide better and faster services to its users.  The real drive for cooperation was seen during the eighties when the focus of cooperation shifted towards resource sharing and number of initiatives were taken to achieve collective objectives of libraries by working together” (Sewell 1981). The biggest impetus for the development of formal library network occurred after 1960 when automating library processes became a possibility. For many libraries, forming or joining cooperatives was the only way that they were able to afford expensive integrated library systems. In 1967, OCLC (then known as the Ohio College Library Centre) was established, which, in turn, led to development of several regional library networks in USA such as NELNET, ILLNET, PALINET and SOLINET,   etc which were primarily established to extend shared cataloguing services of OCLC to libraries in a given region or state in USA. At the time when OCLC developed in USA, other networks grew in Canada, UK and Australia essentially to share MARC catalogue records.

Owing to inadequate communication facilities in India, library networks were almost non-existent in India until the end of 1980. The growth of library Networks in India can be traced to the initiatives taken by NISSAT in the year 1986. The CALIBNET was established in 1986 followed by the DELNET in 1988 with initial funding from the NISSAT. Establishment of the INFLIBNET by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in 1991 as a national-level network can be considered as a major turning point in the evolution of library networks in India. The table given below provides detailed information on Library Networks in India.

Library Networks in India
Sr. No.
Name of Library Network
Supporting Agency
Services / Activities
Ahmedabad Library Network
Database of current periodicals
Inter Library Loan
Conducting lectures and seminars
Specialized training to fresh qualified librarians

Bombay Library Network

Online catalogue
Inter Library Loan, Document Delivery Services
Dissemination of Information

Calcutta Libraries Network
Databases Services
Inter Library Loan, Document Delivery Services
Union List of Conference Proceedings
Index to Asiatic Society Journals
Specialists Database
Institutions Database
Union Catalogue of Social Science Serials

Developing Library Network
Access to union catalogues and databases
Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery Services
Professional Training
Technical Support

Information Library Network
Software development (SOUL)
Automation of University library
Database development
Human Resource Development
Inter Library Loan
Access to scholarly, peer-reviewed electronic resources
Setting-up of open access digital repositories
Digital content creation

Madras Library Network
Directory Database of Journals Since 1993 in and around Chennai
Contents Database
Document Procurement Services
Consultancy Services

Mysore Library Network

Union Catalogue of Database
Food patents
Library bulletin
Public services

Pune Library Network
Catalogues of holding of all member libraries
Union catalogue of current periodicals in Pune libraries and information centres

Bangalore Library Network

JRD Tata Memorial Library

The pace of creation and development of library consortia has accelerated in past two decades because of availability of e-resources and offerings made by the publishers to library consortia. Some of the important library networks at international level include TexShare (Texas), VIVA (Virginia), PALCI (Pennsylvania), GALILEO (Georgia), and OhioLINK (Ohio).  In India, the National Knowledge Resource Consortium (2002), INDEST-AICTE Consortium (2003), UGC-INFONET Digital Library Consortium (2004), DAE Consortium (2004), NLIST (2010) are major library consortia with emphasis on identification, acquisition and management of electronic resources for the member libraries. Besides, library consortia that emerged with primary motive to license e-resources for their member institutions, several existing library networks have also taken-up the task to license e-resources for their members. Demarcations between library consortium and library network, if any, are disappearing. 

3. Definition, Needs and Benefit of Library Consortium

A library consortium refers to a group of libraries that are interconnected to form a system to accomplish some specified goal.

A consortium refers to cooperation, collaboration and coordination between and amongst libraries for the purpose of sharing information services. (Nfila, et al., 2000).

A library cooperative constituted by a group of libraries, preferably with some homogeneous characteristics by subject, or institutional affiliation, or affiliation to funding authorities, who join together with the primary objective of providing expanded access to information resources needed by its user community through a process of pooling and sharing of information and infrastructure resources with due adherence to copyright compliances.

Library consortia are association of libraries established by formal agreement, usually for the purpose of improving services through resource sharing among its members.

In nutshell, a library consortium, variably termed as cooperatives, networks, collectives, alliances or partnerships etc performs the following major activities and services:

  • facilitates the libraries to get the benefit of wider access to electronic resources at affordable cost and at the best terms of licenses.

  • with the collective strength of resources of various institutions available to it, is in a better position to address and resolve the problems of managing, organizing and archiving the electronic resources.

  • provides a platform to members to share their knowledge, skills and experiences amongst participating libraries. 

  • works as a catalyst to trigger other activities that require collaborative efforts, such as cooperative collection development, education and training, preservation, centralized services and network alliances featuring library automation services, system support, inter-library lending, union listing, retrospective conversion, consultation and cooperative purchasing.   

4.0 Types and Models of Consortia

There is a great deal of variety in types and model of library consortia in terms of their size and flavour. They range from informal gathering of librarians gathered for negotiating licenses for accessing e-resources to formally organized operations either sponsored by one institution or by all member institutions. Consortium model depends upon types of libraries participating, parent organisation, purpose of partnership and subject area they cover. Some models are as follows:

  • Allen & Hirshon Model: It categorise consortia that are based predominantly on the governance structure of the consortium, whether it is a formal or informal, centralized or decentralized structure. Types of categorization are – loosely knit federations, multi-type/ multi-state networks; tightly knit federations, centrally funded state wide consortia.
  • O’Connor Model: It provides four models that are predominantly based on how the consortia are  funded – Off the Top, Get on with It, Let’s Help Ourselves, Do it our Way.
  • Helmer Model: It identifies a wide variety of models of library consortia such as – those formed by the Government mandate, license electronic resources, offer other services, has legal status, has central office with or without staff, with or without central funding.
  • Haavisto Model: It categorizes consortia in terms of how a consortium is managed and what needs to be looked at when entering into a consortial agreement. Consortium can be managed by – a member of the consortium, a new legal entity founded by the partners, an outside agent.
Library consortium can also be grouped by sector, by funding source, by governance or organizational structure, by degree of integrity or affiliation, by specific interest, by geographical location, etc. Some examples are as follows:

4.1 Library Consortium by Geographical Regions

4.1.1        City or Metropolitan Library Networks confine their activities and membership to a given city or metropolitan, for example ADINET, MALIBNET, BONET in India;

4.1.2        Regional Library Networks are founded by the member institutions for specific purposes in a given region, for example HELINET in Karnataka;

4.1.3        National Library Networks are spread over the entire country, for example INFLIBNET.

4.1.4        International Library Networks are spread over different countries, for example OCLC can be considered as international network with 16,737 libraries as its members from different countries.

4.2 The Library Networks / Consortium Based on Activities Undertaken by Them

4.2.1        Umbrella or Supermarket: It covers all subject fields and offer multitude of services, for example OCLC;

4.2.2        Bibliographic Utility Networks consist of a large union bibliographic database of member libraries, accessible online to members for copy cataloguing or for creation of new bibliographic records for new books. The OCLC, as the largest bibliographic utility network, provides a database consisting of two billion bibliographic records created by member libraries, these records are used for copy cataloguing, inter-library loan and other functions;

4.2.3          Online Search Service Networks: It hosts a number of databases in machine-readable form which are accessible online through Internet. A user can directly interrogate the databases mounted on host's computer through Internet in two-way interactive mode.

4.2.4        Networks or Consortium for Subscription to Electronic Resources: It takes group licensing / purchasing of electronic resources as one of its major activities, for example, INDEST-AICTE and UGC-INFONET Digital Library Consortium in India.

4.3 The Consortia by Types of its Member Institutions

The consortium is formed by types of its member institutions, such as UGC-INFONET Digital Library Consortium is a consortium for University Libraries. Like wise INDEST – AICTE Consortium is a Consortium for Technical Institutions.

4.4 Library Consortia based on Source of Funding

4.4.1        Open-ended Consortia

Open-ended Consortium do not have a fixed number of libraries as its member, instead any library can join the consortium within a defined time framework. Open-ended consortia provide flexibility to the libraries to join the consortium based on their need, convenience and will. The publisher may define a minimum number of libraries that are required essentially to take-off the consortium. This type of consortia are generally driven by small homogeneous group who have a need to cross-share the resources in a specific subject area.  The cost of subscription per library and the benefits of sharing become evident once more libraries join the consortium. The model is self-funded as each member pays his part of the cost. This model has an opportunity to expand and widespread consortia development on a wider scale. UGC-INFONET Digital Library Consortium is open for private universities and other institutes to join the consortium at their own cost.

4.4.2        Closed Group Consortia

The membership in a closed group consortia are defined by certain criteria and its membership remain closed to a predefined group of members who fulfil these criteria. Closed-group consortium are formed either by affiliation of its member institutions to the funding agency, for example National Knowledge Resource Consortium and DAE Consortium in India . Such consortia are easier to evolve and administer. The funding could come partially or fully by a central agency to which the members are organizationally affiliated to or the consortium may decide to share the cost of resources subscribed through the consortium on mutually agreed terms.

4.4.3        Centrally-funded Consortia

It is an efficient management and co-ordination model where central funding agency provides fund to operate the consortium. Individual member libraries are not required to make any financial contribution to subscription of resources. A serious problem of this model is the long-term sustenance of central funding over a long period of time. The model may result in duplicated spending, if the members do not drop subscription to print resources where e-resources fully paid by central funding act as reliable and guaranteed substitutes. Library consortia in India including UGC-INFONET Digital Library Consortium, INDEST-AICTE Consortium, NLIST are centrally funded library consortia.

4.4.4        Shared-budget Consortia

Shared-budget model is the only alternative where central funding is not forth coming.  HELINET is examples of this model but the fund management does not have a central authority.

4.4.5        National Consortium

The national consortium acts as a central agency to coordinate acquisition, creation and access to information in digital format for institutions of higher education and research. The national consortium can get financial and administrative support from various ministries and departments of the Government of India for subscription to core electronic resources. A national consortium can greatly reduce duplication of efforts and provide greater purchasing power. National consortium would be in a better position to handle archival issues. 

5.0 Pricing Models and Access Rights

Pricing models in e-environment are still in the process of experimentation and evolution. There are a number of models, which are largely a permutation and combination of two basic models, i.e. print-based and electronic only. Prevalent pricing models are briefly discussed below. 

5.1 Print + E Model

Print + electronic model was evolved by the publishers as a natural extension of their print subscription model. The publisher provides electronic access to all subscribed as well as un-subscribed titles or part of un-subscribed titles on a given subject collection on additional payment of certain % on their current print spending. The additional percentage payment may vary from publisher to publisher in the range of 5% and 30%. It is obligatory on the part of the member libraries to maintain their print subscription that existed at the time of signing-up the consortia deal. A member library in the consortium may have liberty to drop subscription to the journal but should replace it by another journal of same or higher value. Managing this model 

may pose significant operational problems to both consortia and the publishers because of print retention clause. The print + electronic model also provide access to back-files in addition to the current year access. Moreover, depending on the deal, the publisher may also allow cross sharing of subscribed titles across members of the consortium. Archiving rights in such cases are generally limited to titles that are subscribed in print. 

5.2. E-Only Model

The e-only model offer electronic access to journals irrespective of their print subscription. Under such offers, publishers offer a pre-defined set of journals at a pre-determined cost to the members of a consortium. Generally, publishers develop consortium-specific offers taking into account current print spending by the member institutions to ensure that there is no loss on revenue from print cancellations. The proposal is made more attractive by offering discount to those members of consortium who wish to maintain print subscription. Responding to the demands from libraries and library consortia, publishers are moving gradually towards e-only model. E-only model grants consortia-wide archiving and perpetual access rights for the subscribed years’ content. Access and archiving rights for back-file content is offered either as an inclusive value of the offer price or for a one-time additional payment.

5.3. Full-Time Equivalent Model

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) model is offered based on population of total number of potential user per site. Generally entire population of the organization including students, faculty, researchers and employees of an organization are counted for FTE. Publishers like Nature and Science who had several multiple subscriptions across the campuses follow this model considering that online access could lead to extinction of their print version over time.  

5.4. Concurrent-Users Model

The concurrent user model provides a fix number of concurrent user accesses to all the members of consortium treating all members of the consortia as one single entity or site.  The database providers such as web of Science use this model predominantly. Universities having multiple sites and national consortium can negotiate this kind of model. 

5.5. Perpetual Access V/s Annual Lease

The libraries and library consortium are increasingly demanding perpetual access to the content based on subscription model followed by the libraries in print environment.  However, the cost that is charged for perpetual access, specially by aggregators like Ovid and OCLC is prohibitive. Annual lease model, on the other hand, offer significant cost advantage. Increasingly, publishers are offering models of subscription to e-resources with perpetual access to e-resources built-in for the period of paid subscription. 

5.6. Back-file Access

Access to back-file of journals is a critical necessity especially for scholarly journals. Several leading publishers have already digitized their complete back-files of journals launched their archival back-files. These publishers include Elsevier Science, Springer ACS, IOP, SIAM, CUP, OUP, etc.

While several publishers, like ACM and IEEE offer free access to their entire back-file collection, as part of the current electronic subscription, a number of publishers, however, offer online access to only the current year’s content + a few year back file as part of the electronic subscription and back-file access is charged separately. Most publishers, who have created back-files from volume 1, offer the back-files on “one-time purchase and perpetual access” basis. 

5.7. Document Delivery and Pay-Per-View Model

Document delivery is an extension of inter-library-lending practice for resource sharing which has been widely practiced world over as exchange of photocopy of articles among libraries. The emerging pay-per-view model, made available by several publishers and third-party aggregators, is likely to replace the old document delivery model.

The pay-per-view model charge US$10-50 per article, but offer the benefit of instant access to full-text and economic advantages over subscription models. In this model, the library does not subscribe to the complete journal but pays for what is used.  This is an ideal model for the contents of non-subscribed journals. Consortia negotiations can look at the opportunities for using this model for less used journals and engage the publishers for advance purchase of articles for a more consortia affordable lower fee per article. Pay-per-view model is driven and promoted by the publishers. It may replace document delivery completely in future. 

6.0 Activities and Services of Library Consortium

Library consortia are being formed increasingly with an aim to arrange access to electronic resources for its member institutions at discounted rates of subscription. However, consortium is not just a buying club. Besides purchase of electronic resources, there are several other related activities that a consortium is required to take up to achieve economies of scale and optimal use of electronic resources subscribed by it. Moreover, it can also be used as a platform to take-up activities that may not be associated either with the purchase of electronic resources or their usage but with completely different sets of activities that requires collaborative efforts, infrastructure and platform that consortium can provide and act as a catalyst. Some of the activities that a library network / consortium may take-up are given below:

6.1 Consortium Purchase

Consortia-based subscription to e-resources is a way of maximising access to e-resources at minimum cost. The consortia-based subscription can be successfully deployed to meet the pressures such as diminishing budget, increased user’s demand and rising cost of journals.

The library consortia, on basis of sheer strength of numbers of institutions, offers healthy business growth opportunities to the electronic publishers and thus attracts the best possible price and terms of agreement in a win-win situation for both. The collective strength of consortia members facilitates the libraries to get the benefit of wider access to electronic resources at an affordable cost and at the best terms and conditions. Consortia based services helps library networks to:

  • Increase the cost-benefit per subscription for participating institutions;

  • Promote the rational use of funds;

  • Ensure continuous and long-term subscription to the subscribed resources;

  • Provide opportunities of local storage and hosting of subscribed information resources;

  • Help in developing local expertise in operation and handling of electronic resources;

  • Prompt institutions with common interest to come together and purchase e-resources in a consortia mode at reduced cost and better terms and conditions; and

  • Improved resource sharing amongst member institutions.

6.2 Collective Acquisition of Resources

The goal of a library network /consortium is to share equitably the collective resources of member libraries. While the existing resources can be shared through inter-library loan, library consortia can achieve greater benefit by implementing centralized resource acquisition programme and by rationalization its acquisitions. While multiple copies of frequently used documents can be acquired at discounted rates, inadvertent duplication of expensive resources can be avoided. Collective acquisition of resources through library networks not only brings-in transparency and accountability but also demonstrate a commitment to greater collaboration. The collaborative building and distribution of information resources provides the best solution for improving the quantity of, and access to resources essential for conducting research, teaching and in rendering service.

The process and operations where collaboration can be achieved includes: i) pre-order searching; ii) integration of new bibliographic records in OPAC; iii) account keeping; iv) maintenance of address file for supplier / publisher name, etc; v) negotiations for purchase of multiple copies of books ; and vi) updation of databases when the documents are withdrawn.

6.3 Cooperative Cataloguing

Catalogue of a library is an index of its collection. Likewise a union catalogue of libraries in a network serve as an index to combined collection of libraries in the network. The union catalogue was, therefore, taken up as one of the first activity by most of the resource sharing initiatives. The sharing of cataloguing services began with centralized cataloguing and distribution of printed catalogue cards by the Library of Congress in 1901. The British National Bibliography (BNB) was launched in 1950 accompanied with catalogue card service though on a more limited scale than that of the Library of Congress. Fully automated library networks offer interfaces for online cataloguing that allow member libraries not only to access the database but also create bibliographic records online for new books or download records for books that already exist in the union database. The centralized cataloguing saves times, avoid duplication, encourage inter-library loan and facilitates downloading of cataloguing information directly into the local library catalogue. Some of the important catalogue-based services that library networks can take-up include:  

  • Shared cataloguing of monographs, serials, and non-book materials
  • Union catalogue of books, serials, theses & dissertations, non-book materials
  • Online catalogue access for shared cataloguing and location identification
  • Catalogue production on magnetic tapes and CD-ROM / DVD ROMs
  • Retrospective conversion
  • Preparation of authority files

6.4 Database Services

The library networks can subscribe to electronic resources (including bibliographic databases, full-text electronic resources and reference sources) on behalf of member institutions on cost-sharing basis, host them locally on their own computer infrastructure and provide access to resources hosted locally to their member libraries on payment basis. Besides being economic, local availability of international databases make the access faster and reliable, reduces transpacific network traffic and bandwidth congestion, and cost incurred on it. Depending upon the licensing arrangements, local hosting of databases also ensures availability of archives of databases locally. The local hosting of databases was practiced regularly by several library networks in developed countries before advent of the Internet and availability of web-based electronic resources. It is still practiced by several library networks and library consortia like CALIS (China), CONCERT (Taiwan) and OhaiLink and OCLC (USA). 

The library networks can also build value-aided services around subscribed resources including retrospective searches for member institutions, citation analysis for individual researchers and institutions, current awareness, alert services, etc.  

6.5 Resources Sharing

Resource sharing through formal and informal partnerships helps a library to deliver wider range of services. Technological advancements offer new dimensions to resource sharing with shift from sharing bibliographic information to sharing full-text electronic resources. Most electronic publishers allow inter-library loan wherein a library subscribing to a given electronic resource in full-text can take a printout of a paper and send it to the requesting library. Fully automated comprehensive inter-library loans and document delivery management system like VDX (Virtual Document eXchange) and ARIEL are available that facilitate resource sharing between libraries and deliver documents directly to users.

The J-Gate Custom Content for Consortium (JCCC) has been specifically designed for the UGC-INFONET Digital Library Consortium to facilitate resource sharing and document delivery amongst participating institutions.

6.6 Shared Technology Systems

The consortium can help libraries to share expertise, save costs and enable library staff to concentrate on providing services to their users rather than developing computing infrastructure. The library consortium can take up the role of an Application Service Provider (ASP), which manages and distributes software-based solutions to its customer across a wide area network from a central data server. Library automation package may be offered as an application for smaller member institutions, which, in turn, may use server infrastructure offered by consortium in a wide area network without bothering for maintenance and upgrade their own infrastructure.

Shared technology System may also include common database hosting infrastructure for hosting full-text and bibliographic databases.

6.7 Joint Archives and Storage Facilities

Cooperative storage of documents is a recent trend, whereby a group of libraries finances the construction of a high-density facility with advanced climate-control systems. Sharing of documents is in-built in the concept of cooperative storage since there is a little point in storing multiple copies of commonly owned documents. Dedicated remote-storage facilities have the potential for superior storage conditions because, in the absence of user interaction, the environment is much easier to control. Cooperative storage facilities need not be necessarily a repository for discarded or duplicate materials, it may also be an active facility that organize, house and disseminate materials too expensive or perhaps too little used to justify acquisition in an individual institution.

Besides printed documents, members of a library network can also have joint computer storage facilities that can be used for hosting archives and backfiles that can be made accessible to the members of the consortium. Such joint facilities may also be implemented for setting up e-print archives across members of a library network. The responsibility of digital archives can also be taken-up in a distributed mode by members  of a library network. 

6.8 Shared Core Collections

Besides subscription to full-text electronic resources and bibliographic databases, the consortium may invest in purchase of backfiles, electronic books and reference sources. It may be noted that several publishers, including Elsevier Science (Science Direct), Wiley Interscience and Institute of Physics (IoP) offer their backfiles that may be loaded locally onto Intranet servers for local access. 

6.9 Shared Digital Library Project Development

As mentioned before, the consortium may take up activities that may not be associated either with the purchase of electronic resources or their usage but with completely different activities that require collaborative efforts wherein consortium with its infrastructure can be used as platform. These activities may relate to content creation, development and hosting. Z39.50 protocol facilitates a new form of collaboration, namely the virtual union catalogue. A number of consortia have developed with an idea of linking their catalogues using Z39.50 protocol. Even systems that are not complaint to Z39.50 have been accommodated using interface programs.

Setting-up interoperable digital repositories of e-prints and electronic theses and dissertations, web-based union catalogue of journals and other serial publications, virtual union catalogue of books, etc. are some of the important activities that a consortium can take up.

6.10 Shared Digital Reference / Real-time Reference Service

Reference service and imparting instructional training to the library users are key areas of activities for any library.  The technology now allows reference librarians to reach out to the users using the network instead of waiting at the reference desk for users to come by.  Besides, imparting instructions on mechanisms of using a library, a reference librarian is also involved in delivering reference service that require deep intellectual understanding of subject.

Digital reference service, also called “Ask-A-Librarian” services are Internet-based question and answer service that connect users with individuals who possess specialized subject knowledge and skill in conducting precision searches. A library network can offer digital reference service involving reference librarians from member libraries to answer questions depending upon their expertise. Once a question is received, it can be assigned to an individual expert from a member library for answering.   

7. Summary

Consortia are resource-sharing organizations formed by libraries. Variably termed as cooperatives, networks, collectives, alliances or partnerships etc., the library consortia are association of libraries established by formal agreement, usually for the purpose of improving services through resource sharing among its members. Activities and functions undertaken by a library network / consortium may vary to a great extend, but often consist of buying access to e-resources, cooperative collection development, education and training, preservation, centralized services and network alliances featuring library automation services, system support, inter-library lending, union listing, retrospective conversion, consultation and cooperative purchasing, etc.  

References and Readings

Allen, B., & Hirshon, A. (1998) Hanging together to avoid hanging separately: Opportunities for academic libraries and consortia. Information Technology & Libraries, 17(1), 36.

Arora, Jagdish and  Agrawal, P. (2003). Indian Digital Library in Engineering Science andTechnology (INDEST) Consortium: Consortia-Based Subscription to Electronic Resources for Technical Education System in India: A Government of India Initiative. In T.A.V. Murthy (Ed.), Mapping Technology on Libraries and People. CALIBER-2003: Proceedings of the First International Convention on Mapping Technology on Libraries and People. 10th CALIBER, 13-14 February 2003, Ahmedabad, 271-290. Ahmedabad: Information and Library Network

Arora, Jagdish and Agarwal, Pawan. Building digital libraries in a consortium mode: Towards a national consortium. In: International Conference on Digital Libraries, 24th-27th February, TERI, New Delhi: Conference papers, vol. 1. New Delhi, The Energy and Resources Institute, p. 292-311, 2004. (Republished in the Proceedings of the Symposium on Consortia Approach to Resource Sharing: Issues and Policies (ed. Dr. Devika P. Madalli). Bangalore, DRTC, Paper E, 29 p., 2004.

Balakrishnan, N. Final Report of the Committee of Experts on Consortia-based Subscription to Electronic Resources for Technical Education System in India, submitted to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). New Delhi, Deptt. of Secondary and Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Sept. 2002.

Bostick, S. L. (2001). The History and Development of Academic Library Consortia in the United States: An Overview. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 27(2), 128–130.

Ching, S.H., Poon, W.T. and Huang, K.L. Managing the effectiveness of the library consortium: A core values perspective on Tiawan e-book net. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 29, 304-315, 2003.

Haavisto, Tuula (1999): Shared licenses. The Finnish Library Journal. V.12, Oct. 1999. (More information available at:

Harloe, B. & Budd, J. (1994). Collection development and scholarly communication in the era of electronic access. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 20(2), 83-87.

HELMER, JOHN F (1999): Epidemiology of the consortial spore. Information Technology and Libraries. V.18 (3), p.119-120.

Hiremath, U. (2001). Electronic resource: sharing in the consortia digital age. Collection Building, 20(2), 80-87.

INDEST Consortium. INDEST Consortium Annual Report, April, 2004 to March, 2005. New Delhi, INDEST Consortium, 2005.

International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC). Guidelines for Technical Issues in Request for Proposal (RFP) requirements and Contract Negotiations. (January 1999).

International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC). Statement of Current Perspective and Preferred Practices for the Selection and Purchase of Electronic Information. 1998.

International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC). Statement of Current Perspective and Preferred Practices for the Selection and Purchase of Electronic Information. Update No. 1 : New Developments In E-Journal Licensing

Nfila, Reason. Baathuli., & Darko-Ampem, Kwasi.(2002). Developments in academiclibrary consortia from the 1960s through to 2000: A review of the literature. Library Management, 23 (4/5), 203-212.

O’Connor, Steve (1999): Beyond cooperation in Australia. LibraryHiTech, V.17 (3), p.265-271.

Okerson, Ann. In today’s e-information marketplace: Am I a swan or ungainly duckling? Library and Information Sciences. In: Library and information services in Astronomy III. ASP Conference Series, Vol. 153, 1998.  

Sathyanarayana, N.V., Krishnan, S. and Arora, Jagdish. Library consortia and resource sharing initiatives in India: A white paper. Bangalore, Rajiv Gandhi University of  Health Sciences, 2004. 54 p.

Sewell, Philip H. (1981). Resource Sharing: Cooperation and coordination in library and information services. London: Deutsch. 
Sewell, Philip H. (1981). Resource Sharing: Cooperation and coordination in library and information services. London: Deutsch. 

No comments: