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Library Cooperation

1. Introduction: The sharing of library resources started with the concept of inter library loan, under which a library can get a document from another library on loan for a certain period. The inter library loan means sharing of the resources of one library by the other libraries on demand, when they are needed by its user i.e sharing one’s assets with others. The inter library loan was followed by the term “Library Cooperation”, but now in its revised and improved form it is called as “Resource Sharing”. Today, it is called “Library Network” or “Library Consortia”, which is one of the cooperative ways of sharing online resources.

Library Cooperation / Resource Sharing / Networking / Consortia all denote a mode of cooperation among a number of libraries whereby the library collection, function or services are shared by a number of libraries. According to Allen Kent the goals are to provide a positive net effect on the library user in terms of access to more material or services and or on the library budget in terms of providing level service at less cost, increased service at level cost or much more service at less cost than if undertaken individually.

2. Need: The need of library cooperation can be visualized from the following angles

a) To Improve the Existing Organizational Infrastructure: The library cooperation aims to improve the existing organizational infrastructure of the participating libraries in terms of finance, manpower, equipment, document, and other library facilities.

b) To Improve the Effectiveness and Efficiencies: Library cooperation improves the effectiveness and efficiencies of the participating libraries to serve the needs of the user, improves access to resources, widens information coverage and accelerates the sphere in the supply of information.

c) To Save the Budget: Library cooperation help the libraries to provide same level of services at least cost.

d) Optimum Utilization of Infrastructure and Service:  Library cooperation helps in utilizing the available resources as well as services to the optimum level.

3. Types of Library Cooperation: The library cooperation can be of different types based on the geographical area or functional areas covered.

3.1 Based on Geographic Coverage:  Based on the geographic coverage of the library cooperation- it can be of the following types-

a) International Level: The library cooperation that covers the whole world or a part of it comes under the purview of this category. Some of the international level library cooperation is as follows-

i) UNISIST: In 1971, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) sponsored United Nations International Scientific Information System (UNISIST) to foster and coordinate international bibliographical services being provided by various organizations. It is an inter-governmental programme to encourage and guide voluntary cooperation in the exchange of information at national, regional and international levels.

ii) UAP: In 1973 International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) took the Universal Availability of Publication (UAP) programme with the goal of making any publication available to any person anywhere in the world.

iii) UBC: In 1973, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in cooperation with International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) launched Universal Bibliographic Control (UBC) to compile comprehensive bibliographies.

b) Regional Level: The regional level library cooperation takes place within two or more countries but it does not cover the whole world. Some example includes-

i) ASTINFO: In 1983 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established Regional Network for Exchange of Information and Experience in Science and Technology in Asia and Pacific (ASTINFO) to promote regional cooperation, better understanding and socio-economic development in Asia and Pacific region.

ii) APINESS: In 1986 another network called Asia Pacific Information Network in Social Sciences (APINESS) was established under the auspicious support of UNESCO.

c) National Level: The national level library cooperation includes cooperation among the libraries of a nation or part of it. Some example includes-

i) NASSDOC: NASSDOC was established in 1969 as a Division of Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) with the objective to provide library and information support services to researchers in social sciences; those working in academic institutions, autonomous research organisations, policy making, planning and research units of government departments, business and industry, etc. National Social Science Documentation Center (NASSDOC) is an India’s Leading Information Centre for Research and Innovations in Social Sciences.

d) State Level: The state level library cooperation includes the libraries or knowledge centres of a particular state. The example includes-

i) DELNET: Developing Library Network (formerly Delhi Library Network) was established in 1988 in Delhi by India International Centre with the initial financial support of NISSAT. It is the first operational library network in India.

e) Local Level: The local level library cooperation includes the libraries of a district, town or city. The example includes-

i) CALIBNET: Calcutta Library Network (CALIBNET) was established by National Information System for Science and Technology (NISSAT) in 1986 in Calcutta. It was the first library network visualized. At present, it has become the centre for CD-ROM databases which are acquired from outside sources.

3.2 Based on Functional Areas: Based on the functional area covered, library cooperation may be the following types-

a) Co-operative Acquisition: The process of acquisition involves selecting, placing orders to vendors, passing of bills, payments, etc. All these activities can be minimized by cooperative acquisition. This will also result in saving the cost, earning of a larger discount, saving time and clerical labour.

The Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre (INSDOC), New Delhi, initiated Centralized Acquisition of Periodicals (CAP) through which it is acquiring foreign periodicals for about 30 CSIR laboratories.

b) Cooperative Processing: If each library, within the network of resources sharing, processes a book through the computer then the job of cataloguing can be shared by all the libraries within the network in the form of-

i) Printed Catalogue Card Service: In this process some libraries, usually of national status, undertake the responsibility of producing printed catalogue cards which are available on a payment basis for other libraries. The Library of Congress and British National Bibliography (BNB) are producing printed catalogue card service.

ii) Prenatal Cataloguing: The term prenatal cataloguing was used by Dr. S. R. Ranganathan. Prenatal technical work involves completion of technical work by the national central library of a country on each book before its release by the publisher.

iii) Cataloguing in Publication (CIP): The Cataloguing in Publication (CIP) programme was initiated by Library of Congress (LOC), USA in 1971 with 27 participating publishers. The process of classification and cataloguing of a publication is done before the book is released. The cataloguing data provided by the LOC is printed on the reverse of the title page which helps the individual libraries in copying down the data on their catalogue card.

iv) Centralized Classification and Cataloguing: Centralized classification and cataloguing service of Online Computer Library Centre (OCLC), and Machine Readable Catalogue (MARC) project of the Library of Congress are remarkable in this direction. Online cataloguing, retrospective conversion using databases also lead to economy with quality.

c) Cooperative Storage: Every library has limited space for storage of books. So the old and less used books are weeded out regularly to provide space for new acquisition. Moreover, the maintenance of the unused or little used books not only consumes valuable space of the library but also involves money and labour. So, the cooperative storage of less used books is the solution left. The material that is not in active use may be stored on a cooperative basis at a central dormitory.

i) ILRC: National Social Science Documentation Center (NASSDOC), New Delhi and Jawarharlal Nehru University, Delhi formed Inter Library Resource Centre (ILRC) in New Delhi in 1975. Some 38 libraries of Delhi deposited their less used serial and government documents at the centre.

d) Inter Library Loan: The inter library loan means sharing of the resources of one library by the other libraries on demand, when they are needed by its user i.e sharing one’s assets with others. In inter library loan a library can get a document from another library on loan for a certain period.

i) ILL of INFLIBNET: INLIBNET has initiated interlibrary loans (ILL) or Inter-Library Lending and document delivery services from the comprehensive collection of subscribed journals under JCCC@UGC- INFONET. INFLIBNET has designated 22 libraries to fulfill ILL request from the users. The ILL libraries together subscribe for 2000 plus journals that is not available through consortia. Universities can request for articles from the journal holdings of those libraries wherever they find useful articles in JCCC search, that are not available in that library.

e) Library Network: It can be defined as a “two or more libraries engaged in a common pattern of information exchange through communication for some functional purposes”.

i) DELNET: Developing Library Network (DELNET) saved foreign exchange worth Rs. 10 million by rationalizing subscriptions to foreign periodicals during 1991, 1992 and 1993 through resource sharing. This was mainly achieved in the fields of physical science, medical science and agricultural sciences.

f) Library Consortia: Library consortia is a network for buying and accessing e- information in a cooperative arrangement among a group of libraries in providing instant access to greater resources for the users of the individual libraries. In simple, a library consortium is one of the cooperative ways of sharing online resources.

i) E-Shodh Sindhu: The MHRD on 1st December, 2015 has merged UGC-INFONET Digital Library Consortium, INDEST-AICTE Consortium and NLIST Programme into E-Shodh Sindhu. The INFLIBNET Centre has been assigned the responsibility for execution and operation of E-Shodh Sindhu.

3.3 Based on Types of Resources: The following type of resources can be shared by way of library co-operation

a) Sharing of Documentary Resources: For example cooperative acquisition, cooperative processing, cooperative storage for the documents which are less used, cooperative delivery system, inter library lending, document delivery service, development of network, developing consortia and so on.

b) Sharing of Manpower Resources: For example, arrangement for the cooperative staff training and such others can be arranged.

c) Sharing of Other Library Facilities or Equipment: For example sharing of the computer and reprographic equipment that cannot be afforded by small libraries due to their high cost, and sharing of finance can be done on cooperative basis.

4. Conclusion: Library cooperation is a social phenomenon by which libraries are mutually engaged to increase the service capabilities of a single library and by which the librarians extend their option to serve clients. It includes sharing materials or function or services that constitute a library system. A material includes both documentary and non-documentary forms. The function covers the activities concerning the acquisition, processing, storage, etc.; services include techniques, activities and procedures employed to establish contact between the document and its consumer i.e. lending, reference, documentation, translation, etc. Library cooperation also can be looked upon as a broader term than resource sharing or networking or consortia.

How to Cite this Article?
APA Citation, 7th Ed.:  Barman, B. (2020). A comprehensive book on Library and Information Science. New Publications.
Chicago 16th Ed.:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. Guwahati: New Publications, 2020.
MLA Citation 8th Ed:  Barman, Badan. A Comprehensive Book on Library and Information Science. New Publications, 2020.

Badan BarmanDr. Badan Barman at present working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Library and Information Science, Gauhati University, Guwahati-781014, Assam, India. He is the creator of the LIS Links ( - India’s most popular social networking website for Library and Information Science professionals. He also created the Open Access Journals Search Engine (OAJSE) (, UGC NET Guide (, Assam Archive ( and LIS Study ( website.

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