Cornell, Columbia 2CUL Program Takes Another Step Toward Collaborative Collection Development

By Norman Oder

Resource-sharing agreement begins with combined support of the Slavic and East European collections at both institutions.

Nearly a year ago, the libraries at Columbia University, New York City, and Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, announced a collaborative project known as 2CUL ( for collection development, technical services, technological infrastructure and more. (2CUL is spurred by a $385,000 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant.)

Now the libraries have announced the first resource-sharing agreement, collaboratively supporting the Slavic and East European collection development activities of both institutions.

While the libraries said they plan to limit collection overlap, allowing them to cumulatively acquire significantly more material across the two campuses, it's too soon estimate the budget or the amount of overlap to be bridged.

"We have created a model for supporting Slavic and East European collection development and research support services," Damon E. Jaggars, Columbia's Associate University Librarian for Collections & Services, told LJ. "The next step will be to model how we will handle collections budgeting and management in a collaborative fashion."

One librarian, two institutions
Robert Davis, Russian, Eurasian, & East European Studies Librarian at Columbia, and Slavic & East European Studies Librarian at Cornell, will support East European Studies research activities at both universities.

"The focus of Rob's work at this point is working with the faculties and students on intelligently reducing collection overlap, primarily in the vernacular languages of the region, so that the savings realized can be used to broaden the coverage of the collections at each institution in their areas of emphasis or concentration," John M. Saylor, Cornell's Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources and Special Collections, told LJ.

Davis, who was already on the Columbia staff, began supporting the Cornell academic community on July 1, 2010.

"We have agreed that Rob will travel to Cornell once each semester to meet with faculty and graduate students, with additional visits scheduled as needs arise for research consultations and instruction," Jaggars said.

Davis also will hold virtual office hours each week, and be available to faculty and graduate students at Cornell via the phone, email, chat, and video conferencing.

Shared support
How will the two libraries share the overall project funding?

"Funding in support of the Slavic and East European collections and services for 2CUL is calculated by looking at the total cost (staffing, travel, etc.) of supporting collection development and research support services at both institutions," Jaggars said.

"If one institution has a larger program (more faculty working in the area, more graduate students to support, larger collections budgets to manage, etc.), it should be assumed that institution would foot a proportionally larger part of the funding for the program taken as a whole," he added.

Expected impact
The partners have high hopes. "Coordinating the Slavic acquisitions of two Ivy League libraries will result in a significant increase in monographs available to readers at both institutions and create what is collectively the second-largest university collection in Slavic and East European studies in North America," John Micgiel, director of Columbia's East Central European Center, said in a news release. "During a time when institutions are financially strapped, this is an excellent example of doing more with less."

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