CAUL Council of Australian University Librarians

Submission to the Review of Management of Higher Education Institutions (announced 5 June 1995 by the Minister for Employment, Education and Training.)

On behalf of the Council of Australian University Librarians I submit the following evidence relating to inter-library cooperation and effective resource sharing between Australian academic libraries.

CAUL (Council of Australian University Librarians)

The Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) has as its mission the advancement of teaching, learning and research through planned cooperative endeavours by Australian University Libraries. CAUL provides a forum for discussion of issues relating to libraries and a mechanism for the coordination of activities which benefit the University community as a whole.

The CAUL strategic plan emphasises collaborative activities which will contribute to the achievement of key objectives including:

The major activities in which CAUL is currently engaged are:

In relation to the activities outlined above, I will briefly outline some of the areas where cooperative activity has provided better access to resources and improvements to management and services for all Australian university libraries.

Interlending and Document Delivery

Recognising that no library can provide all of the research material that will be required by its users, an efficient document delivery service is needed to underpin resource sharing activities.

All libraries subscribe to the Australian Inter Library Loan Code of Practice. There is an agreed level of remuneration to lending libraries for books and periodicals based on three levels of service. These are - Premium track, fast track and regular service. Performance indicators apply to premium and fast track services, and are currently being developed for regular service. The Council of Australian University Librarians has recently published a guide to assessing performance for CAUL members and other libraries.

CAUL successfully introduced ARIEL for interlending in Australia and through the Queensland group is further developing protocols for rapid transfer of documents between members using a MIME (Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extensions) compliant system. Further trials will build on and enhance the work of the Queensland group through a joint project to develop electronic document delivery software which will give library users in Australia greatly increased access to electronic information. This project is a joint initiative which grew out of the Australian Vice Chancellors' Committee National Priority (Reserve) Fund Library Projects program and includes three other partners including the National Library of Australia. Australian librarians have been quick to take up new technologies, but this has been in a coordinated way to maximise the resources available to them.

The National Bibliographic Database

Resource sharing is dependent upon access to reliable and current information relating to university collections. University libraries have been major contributors to the development of the Australian Bibliographic Network since 1982. The National Bibliographic Database provides an unambiguous single bibliographic utility for sharing bibliographic records and making available information about Australia's collections.

The Distributed National Collection

Many Australian University libraries have assessed the level of their collections using conspectus methodology developed by the Research Libraries Group in the United States. These standard assessments and collection policies have been provided to the Distributed National Collection Office in the National Library. In addition, University librarians are developing resource sharing agreements on both regional and national levels. For example seven university libraries have agreed areas of research development for medical collections nationally. Further national agreements are currently being developed for Asian language materials, music, chemistry and agriculture. Many regional and local agreements already exist in other disciplines.

However the resource sharing activities of libraries is complicated by the continuing proliferation of subjects often by neighbouring institutions. This sometimes makes it difficult to get the cooperation of the academic community who prefer to keep material in their own libraries.

Joint Purchase and Shared Use Information

Libraries have a long history of joint purchase of expensive items. In addition, negotiations with vendors are made collectively to gain resource advantage through joint purchase. This has been very successful with the purchase of CDROM'S. Australian university libraries have collaborated to trial and to jointly purchase shared use Datasets which are made available through AARNet for the benefit of their user community. For example the CAUL Current Contents service has 35 of the 37 universities as subscribers. Twenty eight universities have agreed to subscribe to the Australian Bureau of Statistics online service initiated by CAUL.

Reciprocal Borrowing

Reciprocal borrowing agreements exist in most states and between states allowing university students to borrow in person from other university libraries. In Victoria the scheme is currently free of charge to libraries and students. In other states a small charge is made to the home library of the borrower.

Performance Indicators

The Council of Australian University Librarians is developing a suite of performance indicators for the use of members. Three have been published to date and further indicators have been identified for development. CAUL has recently reviewed its statistical measures with the assistance of an expert consultant. These statistical measures will be considered at the October meeting of CAUL.

Shared Expertise

Best practice is encouraged by sharing professional expertise and information. New initiatives are widely disseminated for the benefit of all members. CAUL meetings are conducted in conjunction with a seminar relating to an issue which is important to all members. For example a quality awareness seminar was conducted in conjunction with the last CAUL meeting. Expertise is shared where collaboration can enhance services to all CAUL members. Library newsletters, annual reports and important information is shared between CAUL members in print and electronically via Email.

CAUL collaborates with other organisations to share information and develop new initiatives out of strategic partnerships. For example CAUDIT (Committee of Australian University Directors), the AV-CC Standing Committee on Information Resources, the National Library of Australia and ACLIS (Australian Council of Libraries and Information Services) which covers all library sectors, as well as organisations in the US and the U.K. and state based organisations for cooperative action at the state level. Considerable cooperative activity occurs at the state and regional level which is not mentioned in this submission for example, the cooperative store which is currently being built on the La Trobe campus for the joint use of Victorian Academic Libraries and the State Library of Victoria.

CAUL shares expertise through projects such as the Round Table on Scholarly Communications and contributes to national bodies such as the National Preservation Office, the Copyright Committee, Towards Federation 2001 (a program to identify important national projects to collect, catalogue, provide access to, and preserve material of national importance).

CAUL has appointed an executive officer who ensures that important developments within Australia and internationally are communicated to all CAUL members.


University librarians have a long history of cooperation which is active both at the regional and the national level and is often held as an example to other industries. We have been fortunate to receive from time to time earmarked central funding which has enabled Australian University Libraries to make progress towards greater networked access and document delivery as well as to undertake important research into new areas such as electronic publishing. These funds are important for Australian University Libraries if we are to continue to develop national agreed strategies and to achieve our mission which emphasises collaborative endeavour for the benefit of the University community.

Helen Hayes


August 15, 1995

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