Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sharing

It's what libraries do. We buy something and then we share it. Pretty simple, really.

But why oh why are we so clumsy when it comes to sharing with other libraries? Sure, we've got our Interlibrary Loan program which certainly rocks. Within the span of just a few days, I can have delivered to my hands pretty much any book or journal article I could desire. That's amazing. But what about our subscription databases?

Yeah, yeah. Our contracts prevent us from allowing "non-authorized" users access to our databases. The price we pay is largely dependent upon use and/or population area served. But can't we be a little more creative than that? At the very least, every library in the state (academic or public) should have an option to purchase a "non-resident" library card that would then grant access to that institution's electronic resources. With constrained budgets, that would mean that the smallest library could pony up ~$50/year to purchase a card from the largest, most well-funded libraries in the state, thus granting library staff access to the most powerful and useful databases out there. Granted, the public wouldn't have direct access to the databases but once they became aware of the possibilities that exist they just might be more willing to put some dollars into their own local library.

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