National Scholarly Communications Forum
Round Table No. 7
The Distributed National Collection

Competitiveness Necessitates Collaboration - an Oxymoron?

MEDIA RELEASE 18 July 1997

Updated 21 July, 1997

Collaboration amongst universities in access to information resources is essential for Australia's global competitiveness in research. A forum of representatives of vice-chancellors and deputies, the learned Academies, international Humanities societies and those responsible for university and national libraries and information services, resolved to take its case to the Review of Higher Education Financing and Policy, chaired by Mr Roderick West, a participant in the forum.

The Round Table on the "distributed national collection" held in Canberra on Thursday 17 July focussed on the requirements of researchers in the sciences, social sciences, humanities and technological sciences, the information resources and access structures maintained by university and national library services, and the perceived gap between the resources required and those available. The purpose of this 7th Round Table of the National Scholarly Communications Forum was to develop policies and structures to maintain and enhance the nation's research information infrastructure, to become more efficient in the distribution of the available resources.

A desirable level of information services would permit desktop access to online global information, supplemented by efficient delivery of print materials held anywhere in Australia or overseas. Current limitations are exacerbated by a weak dollar, the volatility of the publishing world where annual costs increase at a greater rate than the CPI, and duplication of print resources amongst universities in competition to attract greater numbers of students.

The University Librarian at Southern Queensland, Madeleine McPherson, explained that "maintaining purchasing power will not maintain adequacy." Professor Deryck Schreuder, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Sydney, added that in 1995, $140 million was spent on university library materials (print and electronic), while the National Library had $3 million to spend, making it a relatively small player in the research resourcing environment. Cooperative mechanisms, with robust and mature policies to guide them, were essential to use the information resource budgets more effectively. The focus had to be on access and delivery, not on location and collections.

National Scholarly Communications Forum. Round Table No. 7 on the Distributed National Collection

Media Contacts:

Mr Alex Byrne             Dr David Bennett           Diane Costello             
President                 Executive Director         Executive Officer          
Council of Australian     Australian Academy of the  Council of Australian      
University Librarians     Humanities                 University Librarians      
Tel:  08 89456 6192       Tel:  06 249 2130          Tel  06 249 2990    

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