Library Consortia: Models for Collaboration and Sustainability

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  • About the authors
  • Reviews

No library stands alone. A long-standing tenet of the discipline, library cooperation predates the founding of ALA. Although these are times of crisis and uncertainty for library consortia (by one count, more than 65 consortia have closed since 2008), the collaboration that consortia offer helps libraries extend the value of every dollar spent. With over 35 years of experience managing five different library consortia between them, Horton and Pronevitz are uniquely qualified to show how consortia have been transforming themselves, offering new services and products while growing ever more important to the library community.  Covering the history, current landscape, management approaches, critical trends, and key services that define today's library consortia, they


  • Highlight the current trends impacting consortia and the fiscal difficulties many have experienced since the 2007-2009 Recession
  • Present conclusions drawn from sixteen case studies and the results of a recent survey on consortial environment and priorities  
  • Look into current management practices and give an overview of consortia activities, such as e-book technology and delivery methods
  • Discuss the Discover to Delivery continuum, a key trend that allows libraries to maximize services


This book will help new library staff understand the full range of activities that take place in today's consortia, while also showing consortia managers, participants in consortial governance, and participating libraries methods for revising current practices, places for expanding services, and adopting new project ideas.  




 Chapter 1: Library Consortia OverviewChapter 2: The Consortial LandscapeChapter 3: Managing ConsortiaChapter 4: Consortia ServicesChapter 5: Discovery, E-content Delivery, and Resource SharingChapter 6: Physical Delivery: Future and Present Case Study 1: Online Instruction

Case Study 2: The Enki Experiment: Library E-book Consortia System
Case Study 3: Statewide E-book Projects for Multitype Libraries in Massachusetts
Case Study 4: Article Licensing Information Availability Service (ALIAS)
Case Study 5: Embracing Wide Deals (Interconsortial Licensing)
Case Study 6: Open SUNY Textbook Program
Case Study 7: Interstate Library Delivery

Case Study 8: Open-Source Integrated Library Systems: A Consortial Implementation of EvergreenCase Study 9: Open-Source Software and Consortium Governance StructureCase Study 10: Vendor-Based Shared Integrated Library SystemsCase Study 11: Enhancing Access to History: Collaborative Digital InitiativesCase Study 12: Shared Physical Depository: The Five College Library DepositoryCase Study 13: 2CUL: A Case Study in Research Library Shared StaffingCase Study 14: Human Resources Management: Contractual Staffing at a Library ConsortiumCase Study 15: BiblioTemps: A Temporary Employment Service for Libraries in MassachusettsCase Study 16: Consortial Fiscal Sponsorship 


About the Authors and Contributors


Valerie Horton

Valerie Horton is a library consultant. She has served as the director of two library consortia: Minitex and the Colorado Library Consortium. She was also the library director at Colorado Mesa University, and worked at New Mexico State University and Brown University. In 2018 she was awarded the ASCLA’s Leadership and Professional Achievement Award. Horton received an ALA International Fellowship to automate libraries in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. She has authored or co-authored three books for the American Library Association and was the co-general editor of the journal Collaborative Librarianship.

Greg Pronevitz

Greg Pronevitz was appointed founding executive director of the Massachusetts Library System (MLS) in 2010 after budgetary pressures compelled the consolidation of six regional library systems. MLS serves more than 1,500 multitype members with physical delivery, shared e-content, training and professional development, consulting, mediated interlibrary loan and document delivery services. Prior to the formation of MLS, Pronevitz had extensive experience as founding director, managing the provision of services to libraries in consortial environment at the Northeast Massachusetts Regional Library System and assistant director at OHIONET. His professional library experience includes positions in technical services at Ohio State University, Chemical Abstracts Service, and the Center for Research Libraries, where he began his career as a cataloger for Slavic materials. He received an MLS (including two semesters of study on a graduate student exchange with Moscow State University in the former Soviet Union) and a BA in Russian language and literature from State University of New York at Albany.

"The editors and their team of experienced contributors discuss the past, present, and future of library collaboration, emphasizing the activities of consortia, the key services they provide, and their management techniques. Sixteen fascinating case studies show what can be achieved by diverse libraries working together. This important volume is a valuable resource for professional collections in academic and large public libraries."

"The authors have been careful to include case studies for many different consortia types including multi-type groups. Although the primary audience of the work are those involved with consortia or their initiatives; it will also be beneficial to any librarian who would like a deeper understanding of the range of library collaboration currently taking place."
— Technical Services Quarterly

"The book presents a very thorough, multi-faceted understanding of the past, present, and future of consortia. For those who think that collective purchasing is the sole raison d'être of library consortia, think again … As someone who has worked with library consortia in Canada for many years, I can say unreservedly that anyone involved with library consortia (e.g., librarians, administrators, publishers) wishing to understand the remarkable breadth of collaborative activity would benefit from this book. For librarians, regardless of the library service or department in which you work, consortia will affect your work, your opportunities, and your career."
— Technicalities

"Covers significant ground ... The historical tenacity of library consortia, and the many creative projects that successfully meet a wide range of member needs, speak to the sustaining value of the collaborative relationships they represent. Consortial leadership is hard work on a constantly shifting foundation, but Horton and Pronevitz's exploration of the subtleties and potential of library cooperation, with active commitment from all parties, makes a strong case for the ongoing value of consortia."
— Collaborative Librarianship