Another Big Question: International collaboration in academic library development – an empowering or impoverishing situation?

In James G Neal’s “Big Questions”-blogpost he points out that collaboration will be one of the important ways of achieving and maintaining success for academic libraries in the near future. In a time of austerity and reduced budgets for academic libraries worldwide, collaboration designed and planned around getting more services for the money is necessary. However, in addition to this kind of collaboration among academic libraries who are geographically close and at similar level, there is a need for collaborations aimed at developing and supporting libraries in the poorer regions of the world. In this scenario one will often see one of the academic libraries as the stronger and more developed, and the other(s) as poorer and in need of support. The benefits for the library being supported are obvious, but what about the benefits for the supporting institution? Apart from “feeling good”, what is in it for them? Do academic libraries in more developed countries have a moral imperative or a mandate from IFLA, even, to support development in academic libraries in the less developed regions? Will support for international library development be de-prioritised when money gets tighter, or will there be external funding that may also be useful for the supporting academic library?

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