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Three Renowned Research Libraries Join Forces To Better Serve Users

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The New York Public Library, Columbia University and New York University Forge Historic Collaboration

The New York Public Library and the libraries of Columbia University and New York University—three renowned research institutions all on the island of Manhattan—have launched an initiative to expand collections and better serve their users.

The collaboration, dubbed the Manhattan Research Library Initiative, or MaRLI, will help the institutions increase access to research collections, increase use of specialized collections, and stretch collection dollars for covering research resources.

The institutions will coordinate their research collecting, eliminating overlap of specialized materials and identifying opportunities for shared collecting.  They will be able to do so by making their collections mutually available to researchers.

“I am delighted that we have been able to spark this new collaboration, which is unprecedented among these three great research institutions,” said New York Public Library President Paul LeClerc.  “We are creating opportunities to get more use of the existing collections, save resources in areas of overlap, and improve services to users who need our research collections.  This project has the potential to positively impact their resulting work and change the landscape of scholarship.”

MaRLI will enable NYU and Columbia PhD students and faculty, as well as scholars whose work is based at NYPL, to check out materials from all three libraries, a first step to improve access to collections among the three institutions.  The model is a departure from NYPL’s historical practice, whereby research materials have not been allowed to circulate.
 
New York Public Library users unaffiliated with NYU or CU can obtain borrowing privileges by demonstrating that they have exhausted the available resources for their projects and need sustained access to the resources of the three institutions.  A research consultation with an NYPL librarian and a completed form are required.

"Reciprocal access is a significant advance for scholars at our institutions, especially in the humanities and social sciences," said James G. Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian, Columbia University. “The fact that a Columbia faculty member or PhD student will be able to check out a book from the research collections at NYPL or NYU and leave the building with it sounds mundane, but it is a huge step forward for scholars working in Manhattan." 

 “It makes sense to leverage both technology and our proximity in order to cooperate at a heightened level,” said Carol A. Mandel, Dean of the NYU Division of Libraries. “There is so much content that our scholars need.  With MaRLI, our combined collecting power will enable us to create collections more wisely and make more content available to more people.  Our shared collection will be a research resource greater even than the sum of its parts.”

The three world class research institutions already participate in many resource-sharing library networks, notably the SHARES international network of research libraries.  The New York Public Library has long participated in the IDS Project, a cooperative within New York State whose members include public and private academic libraries and the New York State Library.  Columbia participates in Borrow Direct, a collaboration among the Ivy League universities and MIT.  NYU shares research collections and services with The New School and Cooper Union through the Research Library Association of South Manhattan.  There are many other examples; the establishment of MaRLI thus builds on a strong platform of inter-institutional collaboration.  In future, MaRLI may include delivery of materials among the three libraries.  For now, users will check out materials at each site.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services
Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 11 million volumes, over 150,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 22 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb is the gateway to its services and resources.

New York Public Library
The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with the Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free and open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. Its renowned research collections are located in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem; and the Science, Industry and Business Library at 34th Street and Madison Avenue. Eighty-eight branch libraries provide access to circulating collections and a wide range of other services in neighborhoods throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items. In addition, each year the Library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs, which include classes in technology, literacy, and English for speakers of other languages. All in all The New York Public Library serves more than 17 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org.

NYU Division of Libraries
The NYU Division of Libraries is a six-library, 4.1 million-volume system.  Its flagship, the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library on Washington Square, houses 3.9 million volumes, audio-video resources, and archives and special collections, and provides access to thousands of electronic resources both on-site and online. The NYU Division of Libraries also includes the following five specialized libraries: NYU Abu Dhabi Library, Institute of Fine Arts Library, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences Library, Jack Brause Library at SCPS Midtown, and the Library of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.  Other NYU libraries include the Frederick L. Ehrman Medical Library, the John and Bertha E. Waldmann Memorial Dental Library, and the Law Library.  The Libraries website is http://library.nyu.edu/