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Cornell and Columbia libraries extend collaboration

In an era of shrinking budgets, how can academic libraries provide the best possible information for their communities?


A new borrowing program between Cornell University Library and Columbia University Libraries allows users at both schools to take out materials from both libraries -- meaning that a Cornell student or faculty member in New York City can register for a library card at Columbia and check out books, and vice versa for Columbia students and faculty at Cornell's Ithaca campus.

"For faculty spending time in New York for the summer or a sabbatical as I have been, privileges at Columbia's Butler Library are an incredible resource," said Jeffrey Rusten, director of undergraduate studies in Cornell's classics department.

The reciprocal arrangement -- the first program of its kind between Ivy League institutions -- applies to current students, faculty and staff at Columbia and Cornell. Visitors have access to library facilities, expert staff, rich technologies and digital collections at both institutions.

"Expanding our partnership in this way creates substantial benefits for researchers at both institutions," said James G. Neal, vice president for information services and university librarian at Columbia. "We are now exploring rigorous coordination of collection building in print and electronic formats and deeper sharing of technology infrastructure and processes."

The 2CUL partnership between Columbia and Cornell has realized cost savings for both libraries and enabled them to extend their collections and services to users.

Gains for both universities over the two-year partnership include:

Collaborative agreements are a growing trend across all kinds of libraries. Many academic institutions, including Columbia and Cornell, also partner with their local public libraries and other universities to bring benefits to users.

"We're choosing collaboration over competition. 2CUL redefines the kind of relationship that world-class research libraries have with one another," said Anne Kenney, the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell. "These relationships are really the best way for libraries to build the breadth and depth we all need, and they are becoming the norm whether we're in financial straits or not."

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Gwen Glazer is a staff writer for Library Communications.

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