Libraries and global universities

The Newsweek ranking of the most 'global' universities has been widely noted. The size of library collection contributes 10% to the overall score. This seems bizarre, but is understandable as it is a readily accessible number.

Maybe, Michigan will rise in future rankings if this becomes based on a library's digital collections ;-)

The piece emphasizes the 'self-consciously' global direction of education. In this context, I wonder will we see greater international collaboration between academic libraries. There does not seem to be significant library activity under the WUN or Universitas 21 umbrellas (maybe I am just not aware of it).

Comments: 0

Sep 01, 2006
Chris Rusbridge

I was on the management of Glasgow University, a Universitas 21 member. There was effectively no discussion about a global library intiative. I did try to get some interest in a global help desk or remote reference desk initiative (because the one advantage these systems have is lots of time zones!) without any luck. The best one of these I know of was set up by LSE with Macquarie in Australia and someone in North America.

Non-digital libraries are kinda hard to share globally, but I think there was some interest in the reverse: shared distance education initiatives where the members might provide library services to "local" students of a remote member university. SCONUL has some services like this, I think, for some universities in the UK (see http://www.sconul.ac.uk/use_lib/srx/ and http://www.uklibrariesplus.ac.uk/.

However I'm not holding my breath for deeper library collaborations to become widespread. We all tend to forget how different local and cultural attitudes are, and how much effort is needed to achieve consensus... especially on policies relating to something as dear to many academic hearts as their library!