A library consortium is a group of libraries who partner to coordinate activities, share resources, and combine expertise. The International Coalition of Library Consortia is an informal discussion group of such consortia. Library consortia offer significant advantages to increasingly strapped libraries. The sharing of resources, and collaboration on shared goals often enable libraries to deliver higher quality services than they would be able to deliver on their own.
Interlibrary loan (ILL) is a system that allows for libraries to borrow and share materials across a wide variety of topics as well as vast geographic locations. It is the most common use of cooperation between libraries as well as within specific consortia. Consortia can grow into something that covers much larger ground than a simple inter-library loan agreement. Many consortia within the United States have ventured further and developed collaborative integrated library systems, or ILS. Examples of these integrated systems include OhioLINK, comprising 88 academic libraries in Ohio; TexShare; Northern Lights Library Network of Minnesota, which incorporates over 300 libraries within the state; Orbis Cascade Alliance in the Northwestern United States; The Alberta Library in Alberta, the MCIT Library Consortium in India; LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network, comprising 49 academic and special libraries in Louisiana; the Abilene Library Consortium in West Texas; PASCAL in South Carolina; and Central/Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing, Inc. (C/W MARS).
Some library consortia exist to share expertise and best practice, pool training resources between institutions, fund research, and provide advocacy to raise the visibility of certain issues. An example of this is the CLAUD Consortium in Southern and South-West England, which promotes accessibility and inclusion in libraries.
There are many benefits for libraries that wish to create or join consortia. Though many have fees for entry, in the end the library finds itself saving a great deal on funding by sharing resources with other members of the consortia. Also, a single library's collection will greatly increase much faster than staying solitary. Additionally, the creation and utilization of inter-library cooperation has the ability to greatly improve communication and relationships across vast fields and can encourage cross-discipline cooperation as well as collaborations.
A library system is a central organization created to manage and coordinate operations and services in or between different centers, buildings or libraries branches and library patrons. They use a library classification to organize their volumes and nowadays also use an Integrated library system – an enterprise resource planning system for a library used to track items owned, orders made, bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed. Many counties, states and universities have developed their own library systems. For example, the London Public Library in Canada has 16 branches, and the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Libraries, in Finland, has 63 libraries. Some countries, such as Venezuela, have only one library system for the whole country; the National Library of Venezuela has 685 branches.
- Mark, T. (20 November 2007). "National and International Library Collaboration: Necessity, Advantages". Liber Quarterly: The Journal of European Research Libraries. 17 (3–4): 1–7.
- Thompson, T. L. (2004). "Library consortia in the 21st Century: Beyond the Buying Club". Trends in Law Library Management and Technology. 15 (2): 1–4.
- Evans, G. E.; Saponaro, Margaret Zarnosky (2012). Collection Management Basics. Library and Information Science Text Series (sixth ed.). Santa Barbara, Cal.: Libraries Unlimited. pp. 161–177. ISBN 978-1-59884-864-9. OCLC 759915961.
- Adamson, Veronica, et al. (2008). "JISC & SCONUL Library Management Systems Study" (PDF). (1 MB). Sheffield, UK: Sero Consulting. p. 51. Retrieved on 21 January 2009. "... a Library Management System (LMS or ILS 'Integrated Library System' in US parlance)." Some useful library automation software are: KOHA, Grennstone .LIBsis, and granthlaya.
- "Helsinki Metropolitan Area Libraries (Finland) Upgrades to Sierra Services Platform" (Press release). Innovative. 5 February 2013. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 1 August 2014.