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Library Consortia

1. Introduction: According to American Heritage Dictionary a consortium is “a cooperative arrangement among groups or institution,” or “an association or society”. According to Oxford English Dictionary, “Consortium means temporary cooperation of a number of powers, companies, etc. for a common purpose. It is an association of similar type of organization / institution who are engaged for producing and servicing the common things / for providing services for a specific purpose of its users.”
      Library consortia is a network for buying and accessing e-information in a cooperative arrangement among a group of libraries in providing instant access to greater resources for the users of the individual libraries.
Library consortium is a “community (a cooperative) of two or more information agencies which have formally agreed to coordinate, cooperate or consolidate certain function” to achieve mutual objectives. It is an association of a group of libraries to achieve mutually the joint benefits. It provides a way for its members to conduct business in a comparative manner.

2. Need: The limitation in finance, space and manpower stresses upon the need for library consortia. Library consortia are needed for the following reasons-
a) To Overcome Financial Constrain: No library can afford to procure all the documents dealing with their subjects.
b) To Deal with Information Exploration: Information is available in different kinds of formats and is growing rapidly. It is not possible to keep a track on it.
c) To Modernize:The library network and consortia is an essential facet of modern library practices.
d) To Achieve More:The basic premise of consortia is that its members can collectively achieve more than what they can achieve as individual institutions. The Library consortia users can have access to large number of E-journals, e-books, online databases than that of their individual capacity as a member of one particular library.

3. Structure: Library consortia may vary from being decentralized to highly centralize in nature. The degree of centralization of consortium is the primary factor affecting not only how member institutions interact with one another, but also maintain relationship with external party (publisher/vendor). More decentralized the consortium, the greater the degree of autonomy each member retains. One of the libraries or agencies or library committee of the consortia works as coordinator for identification of libraries, publisher, negotiation, legal matters, etc.
All consortia used to have a website where all the subscribed e-journals, e-books, databases, etc are listed out so that the member institute as well as library users can navigate and use the resources with much ease. The e-journals, e-books or database uses IP authentication or sometimes provide user Id and password to the member institution so that they can access the resources with much ease.

4. Benefit of Consortia: Consortia will give the library and also the user extended access- that is, better service for reduced costs. The advantages of having consortia are as follows:
a) Reduced Information Cost:Many libraries currently subscribe only to those journals that they can afford. Though interested in other journals yet they cannot afford to provide access to them. Consortia approach helps them to provide the access.
b) Access to More Resources than the Capabilities: A number of publishers offer consortia. If the library’s purchase power is big enough they provide access to their whole range of journals – that is, every member of the consortium gets electronic access not only to the journals currently subscribed to but also to all the journals published in the field.
c) Promoting the Rational Use of Funds: By forming consortia the purchasing power of the collaborating institutions can expand the resource availability and offer automated services. A Library consortium increases the Cost Benefit Per Subscription.
d) Ensuring Continuous Subscription: The continuous subscription to the periodicals subscribed is ensured in library consortia.
e) Providing Document Delivery Service: Inter-libraries loan services will grow and it is interlinked with the search of the union catalogues which will build effective Document Delivery Service (DDS). Delivery of documents will be fast, either electronically through photocopying, fax, courier or e-mail.
f) Solve Space Problem:With subscribed resources accessible online in electronic format, the member libraries would have less pressure on space requirement for storing and managing print- based library resources.
g) Lower Technical Job:All problems associated with print media such as their wear and tear, location, shelving, binding, organizing, etc. would not be an issue for electronic resources under consortia.

5. Precondition for Consortia: Electronic publishing of scholarly journals, technological developments, pricing models of publishers are some of the factors that create the condition for the development of the library consortia.
a) Emergence of Electronic Document: The whole world is moving towards electronic publishing and the cost of the electronic publishing is much less than that of the print version. The users can access to their learned journals article in electronic form from home, office and from anywhere in between.
b) Technological Development:The availability of low cost personal computers, telecommunication lines, origin of National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT), National Knowledge Network (NKN) connectivity envisioned to have a network.The technological development made it possible to share the resources without losing anything by the parties who want to share the resources.
c) Pricing Model of Publisher:The origin and development of the concept like Pay-per-view, Pay-per-click, perpetual access (right to ongoing access to electronic materials) are supporting the concept of library consortia.
d) Shifting of User Need:The modern day library user feels happy when they can access the library material when they needed it most. The desire to access the information in electronic format from anywhere in the world is the precondition for the emergence of the library consortia.

6. Development of Library Consortia in India:Library consortia has become quite popular in India and many intuitions some of which are furnish below has made use of it.
a) E-Shodh Sindhu: The MHRD on 1stDecember, 2015 has merged UGC-INFONET Digital Library Consortium, INDEST-AICTE Consortium and NLIST Programme into E-Shodh Sindhu. The INFLIBNET Centre has been assigned the responsibility for execution and operation of E-Shodh Sindhu. E-Shodh Sindhu provide access to centrally-funded technical institutions, universities and colleges that are covered under 12(B) and 2(f) Sections of the UGC Act.
b) UGC-INFONET Digital Library Consortium: The UGC-Infonet Digital Library Consortium was formally launched in December, 2003 by Honourable Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam, the President of India soon after providing the Internet connectivity to the universities in the year 2003 under the UGC-Infonet programme. The Consortium proved to be a recipe to university libraries which have been discontinuing subscription of scholarly journals because of "Serials Crisis". In the first phase that began in 2004, access to e-resources was provided to 50 universities who had Internet connectivity under the UGC-Infonet Connectivity programme of the UGC. In the second phase, 50 more universities were added to the programme in the year 2005. The programme is wholly funded by the UGC and executed by the INFLIBNET (Information and Library Network) Centre, Gndhinagar. The UGC-INFONET Digital Library Consortium is now no more operational. It has been merged into e-Shodh Sindhu Consortium. The previous website address of UGC-INFONET Digital Library Consortium  was
c) INDEST-AICTE Consortium:The “Indian National Digital Library in Engineering Sciences and Technology (INDEST) Consortium” was set up in 2003 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) on the recommendation of an Expert Group appointed by the Ministry. The IIT Delhi has been designated as the Consortium Headquarters to coordinate its activities. The Consortium was re-named as INDEST-AICTE Consortium in December 2005 with the AICTE playing a pivotal role in enrolling its approved engineering colleges and institutions as members of the Consortium for selected e-resources at much lower rates of subscription. The Consortium enrols engineering and technological institutions as its members and subscribe to electronic resources for them at discounted rates of subscription and favourable terms and conditions. The Ministry provides funds required for subscription to electronic resources for 62 centrally-funded Government institutions including IITs, IISc Bangalore, NITs, ISM, IIITs, IIMs, NITTTR’s and few other institutions that are considered as core members of the Consortium.
Sixty Govt./Govt.-aided engineering colleges are provided access to selected electronic resources with financial support from the AICTE and 102 universities /institutions have joined the Consortium under its self-supported category in 2012. The total number of members in the Consortium has now grown to 1235 and all of them get access to the consortium through its website (
d) National Library and Information Services Infrastructure for Scholarly Content (N-LIST): N-LIST is an initiative of Ministry of Human Resource Development under National Mission on Education through ICT to extend e-resources to colleges in India. The Project entitled “National Library and Information Services Infrastructure for Scholarly Content (N-LIST)”, being jointly executed by the UGC-INFONET Digital Library Consortium, and the INDEST-AICTE Consortium. For more information one can consult:
The project has four distinct components. The INDEST and UGC-INFONET are jointly responsible for the following activity listed at i) and ii). The INFLIBNET Centre, Ahmedabad is responsible for activities listed at iii) and iv).
i) To subscribe and provide access to selected UGC-INFONET e-resources to technical institutions (IITs, IISc, IISERs and NITs) and monitor its usage;
ii) To subscribe and provide access to selected INDEST e-resources to selected universities and monitor its usage;
iii) To subscribe and provide access to selected e-resources to 6,000 Govt./ Govt.-aided colleges and monitor its usage; and
iv) To act as a Monitoring Agency for colleges and evaluate, promote, impart training and monitor all activities involved in the process of providing effective and efficient access to e-resources to colleges.
The N-LIST project provides access to e-resources to students, researchers and faculty from colleges and other beneficiary institutions through server(s) installed at the INFLIBNET Centre. More than 6,000 colleges covered under 2F/12B Act of UGC are eligible to register with N-LIST programme. The colleges that are not covered under 2F/12B, can apply for Associate Membership Programme. All members will be required to pay Rs. 5,000/ for annual membership.
e) ICMR E-Consortium:Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has been subscribing to the Science AAAS, The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Lancet, J-Gate Plus and Nature e-journals in a consortia mode to all ICMR institutes. All the scientists can access these journals from their desktop through the website (
f) Health Science Library and Information Network (HELINET) Consortia: Health Science Library & Information Network (HELINET) consortia conceived by the Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) since 2002.The HELINET Consortium was started with a vision to improve the quality of education and research in the colleges affiliated to RGUHS in the state of Karnataka through enhanced access to high quality medical literature. HELINET’s goal is to deliver information to user’s desk-top, with round-the-clock-access. The Consortium has successfully accomplished the task of developing an e-journal and e-book consortium and a resource sharing model that networks 660+ health sciences colleges in the state of Karnataka. About 600+ core international e-journals, 2000+ e-books, 1500+ videos and databases are being subscribed/ procured and provided to students and faculties and research scholars pursuing their studies in various faculties of health sciences of all the respective affiliated colleges under RGUHS through its website (
g) National Knowledge Resource Consortium (NKRC): National Knowledge Resource Consortium (NKRC)'s origin goes back to the year 2001, when the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) set up the Electronic Journals Consortium to provide access to 1200 odd journals of Elsevier Science to all its users. The National Knowledge Resource Consortium (NKRC), established in year 2009, is a network of libraries and information centres of 43 Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and 26 Department of Science & Technology (DST) institutes. Today, NKRC facilitates access to 5,000+ e-journals of all major publishers, patents, standards, citation and bibliographic databases through its website ( Apart from licensed resources, NKRC is also a single point entity that provides its users with access to a multitude of open access resources. The Consortium envisions emerging as a leader to serve the R&D sector with much needed information to strengthen the research and development system in the country.

7. Conclusion: A library consortium is a group of libraries who partner to coordinate activities, share resources, and combine expertise. There are many benefits for libraries that wish to create or join consortia. Though many have fees for entry, in the end the library finds itself saving a great deal on funding by sharing resources with other members of the consortia. Also, in a consortia mode, a single library’s collection will greatly increase much faster than staying solitary.
The library consortium aims to improve the existing organizational infrastructure of the participating libraries in terms of finance, manpower, equipment, document, and other library facilities. It improves the effectiveness and efficiencies of the participating libraries to serve the needs of the user, improves access to resources, widens information coverage and accelerates the sphere in the supply of information, and helps in utilizing the available resources to the optimum level. Consortia will give the library and also the user extended access- that is, better service for reduced costs.
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