In Tight Economic Times, Cornell & Columbia Libraries Extend Collaboration

Contact: Gwen Glazer
Phone: (607) 254-8390

In Tight Economic Times, Cornell & Columbia Libraries Extend Collaboration
2CUL Partnership Brings Library Cards & Borrowing Privileges to Both Schools

NEW YORK (July 14, 2011) – In an era of shrinking budgets, how can academic libraries provide the best possible information for their communities?


A new borrowing program between Cornell University Library and Columbia University Libraries allows users at both schools to take out materials from both libraries — meaning that a Cornell student or faculty member spending time in New York City can register for a library card at Columbia and check out books, and vice versa for Columbia students and faculty spending time at Cornell’s Ithaca campus.

The reciprocal arrangement — the first program of its kind between Ivy League institutions — applies to current students, faculty, and staff at Columbia and Cornell. Visitors now have access to library facilities, expert staff, rich technologies and digital collections at both institutions.

“Expanding our partnership in this way creates substantial benefits for researchers at both institutions,” said James G. Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University. “We are now exploring rigorous coordination of collection building in print and electronic formats, and deeper sharing of technology infrastructure and processes.”

And it’s not all about budget cuts. The 2CUL partnership between Columbia and Cornell has realized cost savings for both libraries, but it has also enabled them to extend their collections and services to users far beyond where either institution could go alone, even in good economic times.

Gains for both universities over the two-year partnership include:

  • Sharing expert librarians in the fields of Slavic Studies and Southeast Asian Studies and expert catalogers in multiple languages
  • Enhancing the depth and breadth of global collections by better coordinating collection development of print and electronic formats
  • Establishing a buying plan for Chinese materials that will reduce selection and processing costs at both institutions
  • Expediting borrowing between the libraries, which will eventually result in a two-day turnaround from one library to the other

Collaborative agreements are a growing trend across all kinds of libraries. Many academic institutions, including both Columbia and Cornell, also partner with their local public libraries and other universities to bring benefits to users.

“We’re choosing collaboration over competition. 2CUL redefines the kind of relationship that world-class research libraries have with one another,” said Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell. “These relationships are really the best way for libraries to build the breadth and depth we all need, and they are becoming the norm whether we’re in financial straits or not.”

For more information
Logistics of reciprocal borrowing are explained on Columbia and Cornell’s websites, and more information on the 2CUL partnership is at

A new borrowing program between Cornell and Columbia allows users at both schools to take out materials from both libraries