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Mellon Grant to fund collaboration between Columbia and Cornell libraries

  • E-BOOKS | The collaboration will provide faster access to a shared collection of online materials.

Columbia and Cornell libraries are collaborating to create a more efficient way for scholars to access academic resources.

Cornell University Library announced last week that the two university libraries would integrate their technical services departments with the help of a $350,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The integration represents the latest step in the libraries’ 2CUL partnership.

This technical services integration is the second phase in years of collaboration between the Columbia and Cornell libraries. Initiated in 2009, the 2CUL (pronounced “too cool”) partnership was established to help both libraries adapt to challenges raised by the economic recession and the digital revolution.

Columbia libraries spokesperson Allison Morrow said in an email that the integration would benefit students and researchers by expediting the process of searching for a source.

Morrow said that the 2CUL technical integration will give library users better and faster access to more materials, including licensed journal articles and foreign materials.

A library’s technical services department is traditionally responsible for procuring, processing, and cataloging research materials, as well as, more recently, organizing electronic resources and data, according to Cornell University Librarian Anne Kenney.

Kenney said the collaboration between the two university libraries is allowing them to assemble a more complete shared collection.

“We can pool our resources to not only share subject experts but also refine our collecting profiles, so that we are building complementary rather than redundant collections that serve our institutions,” Kenney said.

“About 20 percent of our staff at each institution is involved in technical services,” she added. “The goal of looking at deep collaboration is not to reduce that number, but rather to expand their capability for addressing new challenges.”

In working together, the libraries are seeking to combine their resources so that both can take advantage of best practices and data that will make their operations more effective.

“The integration will include a common library management system that integrates data and workflows, collaborative collection building and coordinated processing, reviewing policies and practices at each institution with an eye toward reconciling them as much as possible, and adopting a new organization structure and culture,” Morrow said.

According to Morrow, the first phase of 2CUL saw the libraries share collections, expand access to global resources, and grant students and faculty of both universities access to either library on-site. As the partnership continues, Kenney said she hoped to see the results of these steps extend beyond the back rooms of the libraries.

“During this next phase, I think we’ll look at ensuring the program is mainstreamed not only all the way through the library systems, but that the faculty and students are fully aware of the advantages of this partnership to their respective work,” she said.

news@columbiaspectator.com | @ColumbiaSpec

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