Whether you call it resource sharing or interlibrary loan or document delivery, librarians have shown a long history of exchanging materials between institutions to better serve their users. But let’s stop for a moment to consider how unusual this behavior is in the world beyond libraries. Do corporate entities share their assets? Do most government agencies willingly circulate their best resources with clients of other agencies? Do academic departments in a university collaborate without serious compunction?
So how did resource sharing become part of the librarian’s DNA? In this presentation, George Needham will discuss the roots of interlibrary loan in the early 20th century, consider the impact of technology in the forms of the MARC record, OCLC, and the web, and then look at what forms resources sharing may take in the years to come. Will economic pressure force us to collaborate even more radically, or will it lead to a new bunker mentality? Could libraries serve as “showrooms for information” in the future? And what would happen if, in the words of some cynical observers, everything really was available on the web?