Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL)


  (Revision date 7 July 1999)
Updated 7 July 1999


The Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) comprises the chief librarians of the tertiary institutions, which are members of the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee.

CAUL is dedicated to improving access by the staff and students of Australian universities to the scholarly information resources that are fundamental to the advancement of teaching, learning and research.

In pursuit of this objective CAUL ensures a common voice and representation for all university libraries, provides a forum for discussion, and works to promote common interests.


In determining a strategy that will guide its course over the next 5 years CAUL faces an environment characterised by:

Values – Collaboration and Partnership

The key trends are global in their scope. No individual university library can face them alone.

Collaboration and partnership are therefore themes, which run throughout this Strategic Plan. Some partnerships will be local; others based on a particular community of interest.

The CAUL Strategic Plan for 1999-2005, outlines the areas in which Australian university libraries will cooperate with each other to meet national needs for academic information. By cooperating and collaborating with other national and international organisations CAUL will promote policies and influence practices that will benefit the Australian and the international scholarly community.


The Strategic Plan charts how CAUL will meet its objectives. It outlines four goals: maximising access to information resources, transforming the current scholarly communication system, promoting continuous improvement in university libraries, and advocating effective policies and an appropriate legal and regulatory environment.


GOAL: MAXIMISE ACCESS TO INFORMATION RESOURCES REQUIRED FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF TEACHING, LEARNING AND RESEARCH IN AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITIES.   Rationale Existing and emerging infrastructures provide the opportunity to build a national academic library network to underpin teaching, learning and research in Australian universities. Such a network will be based on formal agreements and, where appropriate, will utilise electronic/digital means of access and delivery. Participants will predicate it on philosophical, legal and financial commitment. The goal is the genuine rationalisation of information resources, and the delivery of improved services to clients, including the provision of unmediated access to information as a platform for successful flexible delivery of education.

This will entail:
- An examination of optimal business models for acquisition, access, delivery, preservation, storage and marketing of resources available within the network
- Limited pilot projects to test:

- Authenticated access;
- Unmediated ILL requests;
- Charging mechanisms.
Strategies 1.1 Maximise the availability of information resources in Australian universities through:
1.2 Improve the facility of students and researchers to discover information resources through the development of catalogue and gateway infrastructure.

1.3 Widen direct access by staff and students to the nation’s university libraries and information services by:

  1.4 Developing protocols for a national borrowing scheme

1.5 Developing models for a national system of user authentication

1.6 Enhance document delivery services through the support of national protocols and the development of improved technological solutions.

1.7 Preserve knowledge of national significance through:

Action for 1999
    1. Assess the feasibility of a cooperative approach to collection development and resource sharing for Australian university libraries and other major research libraries by completing the Janus Project.
    2. Improve opportunities for cost-efficient purchase and licensing of electronic information resources through the CEIRC (CAUL Electronic Information Resources Committee).
    3. Influence the policy framework for development of the national bibliographic database (Kinetica).
    4. Develop gateways for access & delivery (e.g. MetaChem, AgriGate, AVEL) through collaborative development.
    5. Investigate the feasibility of an Australian University Library Portal to facilitate resource sharing and collaborative collection development.
    6. Establish a framework and develop a business model for a national borrowing scheme.
    7. Develop a business plan and funding model for a national cooperative digital and archive store linking regional stores under a common management and technical infrastructure.
2. SCHOLARLY COMMUNICATION Rationale Barriers to information flow may be legal or financial. They involve the creators, publishers and distributors of information. The research and academic publishing environment is a global one, and transformation is likely only if dealt with on a global scale. "Of critical importance to the productivity of the research community is timely, cost effective access to global information and knowledge. Such access can only be achieved by seeking commitment to, and ownership of, common strategic goals by a broad array of stakeholders who are involved in, or are associated with, the research enterprise." Strategies 2.1 "Seek innovative means of changing the present processes associated with creating, publishing, disseminating and archiving research information and knowledge."

2.2 "Reform intellectual property rights management practices relating to the exchange of research information and knowledge."

2.3 "Develop collaborative responses for negotiating cost effective access within the existing global information and knowledge marketplace."

2.4 Influence the development of new models of publishing which are efficient and cost effective.

2.5 Raise awareness of the cost of research information to Australian libraries.

2.6 Identify and forge alliances with local and international partners to support the transformation process.

Action for 1999
    1. Foster the implementation of the scholarly communication agenda as defined by the March 1999 workshop on Australia's information future.
    2. Support the activities of SPARC.
    3. Facilitate participation of CAUL members in initiatives arising from Australia’s research enterprise.
3. BEST PRACTICE Rationale This has been a continuing area of activity and achievement for CAUL, through collection and publication of statistics, questionnaires/surveys, and with the establishment of a CAUL Office, environmental scanning to monitor international advances. It is now also a high priority within the universities and for the AVCC and government. CAUL will continue to find new ways and means to enhance the quality of university library services. Strategies 3.1 Promulgate best practice through documentation and communication of policies and practices in areas of need.

3.2 Identify key performance indicators, which enable measurement of the effectiveness of library services.

3.3 Develop tools, which assist in the measurement of performance indicators.

3.4 Facilitate benchmarking activity between members.

3.5 Facilitate the enhancement of knowledge and skills of members and their staff.

Action for 1999
    1. Complete a best practice guide for university libraries through the EIP Benchmarking Project.
    2. Assist in the development of national benchmarks for university library and information technology services by contributing to the IDP Benchmarking Project.
    3. Collect and publish statistics on Australian university library resources and services.
    4. Review the efficacy of the CAUL Performance Indicator kits and revise if appropriate.
    5. Conduct and publish the results of surveys and questionnaires, which enable members to share collective knowledge and experience.
    6. Publish details of Australian and international conferences, projects, documents, etc, which assist members to keep informed of the latest developments in higher education libraries and information services.
    7. Investigate additional options for assisting members to enhance the quality of library services eg staff exchanges, skills clinics, development of SPEC-type kits, etc.


University libraries work continuously towards improved levels of service and more efficient use of resources. Their visibility to the community, to their stakeholders and to the government is vital to their ability to gain support for improved services and resources, and to avoid threats to the affordable flow of information.
Strategies 4.1 Promote the role of university libraries as a partner in university teaching, learning and research.

4.2 Demonstrate that university libraries are performing effectively within the available resources, are cooperating effectively for the national good, and are at the forefront of best practice management and technological advances.

4.3 Identify & influence the legal and regulatory environment which has an impact on traditional and evolving library services and the affordable flow of information eg communications, copyright, censorship, higher education, etc.

4.4 Identify and promulgate potential funding opportunities for information infrastructure development & projects.

4.5 Identify and promulgate marketing skills development opportunities for members and their staff.

Action for 1999
    1. Develop a formal communication strategy, to include a marketing plan relevant to specific bodies such as the government, the AVCC & SCIP, Vice-Chancellors, media contact lists, press releases, information packs.
    2. Review existing strategic alliances and identify potential groups for the formulation of future alliances.
    3. Develop a communication plan, which ensures that all CAUL members are kept informed of the key CAUL activities of the Executive and Working Groups.
    4. Support CAUL representation on groups seeking to influence regulatory reform, especially in relation to copyright, telecommunications, higher education, etc.
    5. Respond to all relevant inquiries into changes to government Acts & regulations.
    6. Organise a seminar on marketing & advocacy at the CAUL 99/2 meeting with CONZUL.

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This site is written, compiled and maintained by Diane Costello, Executive Officer, CAUL.