This abstract describes the networked cooperation of the academic libraries and the consortium of the digital libraries of the Finnish universities of applied sciences and their strategic plan for the Web service. It argues that it is reasonable to plan the strategies for the network, because no single library has complete control over all the aspects that are necessary to develop the cooperation between the libraries. The strategy is the basis for a cooperation enabling electronic services for the libraries. The findings of this study are useful to the administrators of educational institutions aiming to plan a networked strategy and improve the cost-efficient cooperation of otherwise independent organisations.
The Consortium of Libraries
The consortium of the libraries of the Finnish universities of applied sciences (Amkit Consortium) was founded in 2001. The purpose of the consortium is to coordinate cooperation between the respective libraries of the institutions. In Finland there are 29 universities of applied sciences, which are professionally-oriented higher education institutions. The libraries cooperate actively with the libraries of the 20 traditional universities, the libraries of vocational institutions and other libraries. The result of the Google search engine indicates that there are many other consortia of digital libraries, but they take different forms.
The number of personnel is nearly 500 in the libraries of the universities of applied sciences. They are located in 80 towns and at 200 locations. This reflects the remotely located branches of the institutions. The development of the libraries was rapid during the 1990s when the Finnish Polytechnics were established in higher education. At the beginning of 2006 the polytechnics adopted the new English translation “university of applied sciences,” which reflects the English names of the professionally-oriented higher education institutions in the European Higher Education Area. The European area has defined in the Bologna Process by the European Ministers responsible for higher education (Berlin Communiqué, 2003; Kettunen & Kantola, 2006b, 2007).
The consortium of libraries is a typical network to exchange information and cooperate. It is also a network to gain commitment to a joint strategy of the libraries. The presence of network suggests that much of the success of libraries lies outside a given library residing in the cooperative network.
The networks, work groups and informal communities of practice have an essential role in the exchange of information and knowledge (Kettunen, 2004a; Kettunen & Kantola, 2006a).
Academic libraries seek efficient ways to produce high quality output given the limited financial resources (Brooks, Revill, & Shelton, 1997). Cost-efficiency is a natural choice for strategy in the public sector, where primary management emphasise desired outputs and cost reduction. Typically, taxpayers provide the financial resources for libraries, which have limited annual budgets for activities and investments. Cost-efficiency can be achieved by increasing cooperation between the libraries and taking advantage of the economy of scale across the physical and intellectual assets of the libraries.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Voyager Library System: An integrated library system used by many academic and other libraries. It provides users with keyword searching, parallel searching across other libraries, databases and access to electronic journals and URL links straight from the catalogue screen. Voyager is broken down into different modules that are focused on helping with certain tasks commonly done in libraries. For example, Web Voyage lets people search the library catalog using a normal web browser. The system is produced by Endeavor Information Systems.
Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP): In computer networking, LDAP is a networking protocol for querying and modifying directory services running over TCP/IP.
Web Service: A software system designed to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network.
Information Literacy: Information literacy includes competencies that an informed citizen of an information society should possess to participate intelligently and actively in society.
Finnish National Electronic Library (FinELib): Acquires Finnish and international resources to support teaching, learning, and research. The library negotiates agreements for electronic resources on a centralised basis for its member organisations and cooperates with universities, research institutes, and public libraries.
Open Access: The free online availability of digital content, typically scientific, or scholarly journal articles which are published electronically without expectation of payment.
Strategic Themes: Describe the strategy of an organisation in a concise way. They describe what management believes must be done to succeed and achieve the desired outcomes.