Resource sharing is critical to the future of academic libraries

CENTURION Pretoria, South Africa, 26 June 2020.

With the government’s budget speech yesterday bringing the bleak news of widespread cost-cutting, it is those cuts that specifically impact libraries, TVET colleges and universities that could hinder access to information to those who need it most. Funds to the tune of R10 million, typically set aside for the construction of new libraries or upgrading of established ones, is instead being spent on decontaminating these libraries. This comes alongside news that government will cut spending on libraries by over R300 million. Similarly, TVET colleges and universities have been instructed to minimize their spending, conducting only essential maintenance. Their budgets are down R370 million and R500 million respectively.

This widespread cost-cutting comes in the midst of the crisis that we are all experiencing and it only adds to the challenges which already face us. Under these circumstances, achieving our objectives becomes difficult but not impossible.  For libraries, regardless of institution, the difficulties of being able to work, share, and conduct operations effectively can be eased through the implementation of cloud based library solutions.

In today’s cloud-enabled world, there are no physical or geographical barriers to resource sharing. While there may have been lingering feelings of ‘institutional ownership’ in the not too distant past, the benefits of resource sharing have long put paid to these. Couple this with the closure of libraries as physical spaces in recent months, being ‘in the cloud’ means libraries can still easily be accessible to their users. Being cloud-based also means that staff are empowered to work remotely, should the need arise.

Ultimately, cloud-based library solutions can help libraries reach out to the largest cooperative of resource-sharing libraries in the world, supplying their users with the resources they need. WorldShare Interlibrary Loan connects an individual library to thousands of libraries whose entire collections can be viewed at a glance in WorldCat®. Together, these libraries have created a shared, global library collection for the benefit of all library users – dramatically increasing the spread of knowledge.

With cost-saving in mind, WorldShare ILL includes built-in statistical reports which can be used to identify trends to help further streamline workflows and policies. Being able to assess a library with this kind of overview can be a boon when it comes to addressing inefficiency and lowering costs.

Sabinet wholeheartedly supports libraries and institutions across Southern Africa and Africa by helping them migrate to, and effectively use the WorldShare ILL platform. The service integrates workflows and provides both time-and cost-saving functionality that enables much quicker fulfilment of requests across the interconnected network of libraries.

What’s even more exciting is that South Africa is ranked amongst the top countries in the world for usage of the platform, sharing South Africa’s library holdings proudly with libraries worldwide.

Sabinet continually strives to provide its clients with the newest cutting-edge services, along with the cost savings that these services bring.

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