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Cornell Library forges landmark collaboration with Columbia's library

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $385,000 to the libraries at Cornell and Columbia University to develop a new partnership that has the potential to become the most expansive collaboration to date between two major research libraries.

The partnership is called "2CUL," which is pronounced "too cool" and is based on the dual "CUL" acronyms of each library.

Beginning this fall, Cornell and Columbia began to plan partnerships in collaborative collection development, acquisitions and processing. The two universities will form a service entity to facilitate the collaboration. Ithaka, a not-for-profit organization that assists research libraries and the academic community to leverage information technologies, will provide project management and assist in the planning. Initial work will focus on several collecting areas as well as collaborative funding and support of technical infrastructure in various areas.

"2CUL will ameliorate the impact of budget cuts while building our libraries' ability to innovate," said Anne Kenney, the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell. "This partnership is predicated on Cornell and Columbia's shared commitment to reinvigorate our libraries in response to and in anticipation of changes in digital access, interdisciplinary research and scholarly communication. It also allows us to provide the best possible experience for our users."

Added James G. Neal, vice president for information services and university librarian at Columbia: "2CUL represents a new, radical form of collaboration that pairs two leading research libraries in a voluntary, equal partnership." He said that the libraries of both universities "are committed to developing an enduring and transformative partnership that will enable us to achieve greater efficiencies and effectiveness and to address new challenges through combined forces."

Over the next two years, 2CUL will explore ways to improve the quality of their collections and services, redirect resources to emerging needs and make each institution more competitive in securing government and foundation support. The relationship could also provide a new blueprint for partnerships between other academic libraries.

"This collaboration can serve as a model of inter-institutional partnership for other aspects of our work," said Cornell Provost Kent Fuchs. "We are pleased to partner with Columbia to continue to provide excellent service with fewer resources while increasing productivity and minimizing redundant operations."

Gwen Glazer is a staff writer with Library Communications


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