Kansas University libraries on the Lawrence campus represent one of 13 regional university library systems that have formed a consortium this month to improve services for their patrons.
As part of the Greater Midwest Research Library Consortium, KU libraries should be able to borrow materials held by other libaries faster for faculty and students, said Bill Crowe, dean of libraries.
In addition, libraries in the newly formed consortium are working to approve a bid for a private delivery service that would make daily deliveries of materials from one institution to another.
"The consortium is the result of ongoing meetings that the directors of libraries in the Big Eight schools have had for several years," Crowe said. "This just formalizes some of those informal agreements."
Library systems in the consortium are the universities of Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska-Lincoln, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wyoming; Colorado State, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Southern Illinois universities, and the Linda Hall Library in Kansas City, Mo. KU has the most materials of any of the libraries, he said.
AS MEMBERS of the consortium, the library systems will give each other priority when seeking materials that individual libraries do not have, without cost.
Crowe said that in past years, the KU library has borrowed and lent materials to other libraries whose patrons request the materials, without cost.
However, he said those arrangements were informal, and that sometimes KU would be charged for borrowing materials or would charge other libraries when they borrowed materials from KU.
Under guidelines in the consortium, each library now will be able to exchange materials without being charged.
"Resource sharing works . . . only when the parties feel everybody is getting a fair shake," he said.
HE SAID the arrangement is beneficial because it reduces the amount of paperwork and employee time spent when one library requests to borrow materials from another.
"Anytime you can cut down on the amount of paperwork you can improve services," he said.
Crowe said libraries in the consortium also want to hire an overnight delivery service that could provide relatively inexpensive and fast delivery service among the libraries.
"It would be way that we could get materials from one institution to another . . . while saving on the cost," he said.
Crowe said such a courier system could be modeled after that used by the Kansas Board of Regents schools. Each of those schools pays a private delivery service $1,500 a year to make daily deliveries among the schools.
THE SERVICE enables patrons of one library to obtain materials that would not otherwise be available, in a day or two, he said.
"We know it costs a lot more to send (books) out one-by-one-by-one than it does for the courier," he said.
Crowe said he hoped a similar service could be available in the regional consortium by the spring.
Last year, university libraries in the consortium made 34,000 loans among each other, he said. KU lended 3,600 items and borrowed 3,400 items for its patrons last year from schools in the consortium.