Posted by: bluesyemre | August 15, 2022

Library Collaboration as a Strategic Choice: Evaluating Options for Acquiring Capacity

The OCLC Research report Library Collaboration as a Strategic Choice: Evaluating Options for Acquiring Capacity explores library collaboration as a key strategy for academic libraries in acquiring needed capacity, but also contextualizes it as one sourcing approach among a range of options available to libraries. 

The decision for academic libraries to collaborate can yield distinct benefits, but not without an often-significant investment of effort, attention, and resources. Library collaboration needs to be weighed against the pros and cons of alternative ways of acquiring capacity. In short, collaboration is a decision that needs to be approached strategically. 

This report provides insight and tools to support academic libraries in making intentional decisions about cross-institutional collaboration opportunities to acquire capacity, including:

  • A menu of common sourcing strategies available to libraries 
  • Key considerations and trade-offs associated with these strategies
  • A summary of foundational economic concepts that help deepen understanding of the collaboration option 

The stakes of choosing library collaboration to acquire capacity—whether to support research data management (RDM), digital curation and preservation, print management, or any other area of library interest—have been heightened by a host of factors, like advances in new technologies, changing user expectations, evolving research practices, and economic pressures have led many institutions to explore collaboration as a means of addressing these environmental shifts. 

Additionally, libraries have increasingly prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) outcomes in strategic planning; collaboration among libraries of different sizes, reach, and communities served may offer opportunities to expand services and extend impact. As interest in the collaboration option grows, it becomes even more important for academic libraries to be purposeful and strategic in their collaboration choices.

This report offers insights and resources that can help academic libraries in thinking about whether to choose the collaboration option, and, in cases where collaboration is the desired approach, in selecting the most effective forms of collaboration to meet strategic aims. The frameworks and tools offered in this report also can help with communicating sourcing decisions—especially those involving collaboration—to staff and other stakeholders. This in turn can improve transparency around sourcing decisions and, ultimately, strengthen buy-in from those impacted by the outcomes.

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