CUHK University Library System Held ‘The Yin-Yang of Future Consortial Collaboration and Competition’ Conference
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) University Library System and the Joint University Librarians Advisory Committee (JULAC) jointly organized a conference entitled ‘Academic Librarian 3: The Yin-Yang of Future Consortial Collaboration and Competition’ on 30-31 May 2013, attracting about 300 local and overseas delegates. The Conference was also one of the celebratory events of the 50th anniversary of CUHK.
Academics from around the world including Hong Kong, mainland China, America, Europe, and Australia were invited to deliver reports on various issues. Distinguished speakers included Mr. Chen Ling, Deputy Director at China Academic Library and Information System (CALIS); Dr. Stella Butler, University Librarian, Leeds University and Chair of Research Libraries UK (RLUK); Ms. Laine Farley, Executive Director, California Digital Library; Mr. Peter Sidorko, University Librarian, University of Hong Kong; and Dr. Elliott Shore, Executive Director, Association of Research Libraries. The following four themes were addressed in the conference:
- Academic library consortia governance: a 3-mile high view of balance, priorities and evaluation;
- Co-operative staff development: benefits, pitfalls and best practices;
- Cutting edge approaches to access and storage of shared paper-based and digital collections: open and closed systems; and
- Centralizing collection management and technical services: inevitable or avoidable?
The eight publicly-funded Hong Kong higher education institutions have a long history of collaboration through JULAC which is almost 50 years old. This has included joint training, joint negotiation for the purchase of library materials, and resources sharing that allows students and academics to borrow books from eight libraries. The libraries were praised in a 2010 University Grants Committee report for their collaboration, and were encouraged to build on these successes to achieve even deeper collaboration. It is against this background that the conference was conceived.
Apart from focusing on the significant benefits and achievements of library consortia, the speakers also had frank discussion on the stresses and strains of collaboration in times of continued inter-institutional rivalry. They also exchanged views on the next wave of consortia collaboration based on digital library developments in the cloud, and had a fruitful discussion on whether libraries should collaborate not just locally, regionally or nationally but globally, and whether balance and harmony can be achieved between collaboration and competition.