Joint Collection Management: The MPower Maryland Experience
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C. Steven Douglas, MA, MLS, AHIP
Head, Collection Strategies and Management
Health Sciences and Human Services Library
University of Maryland

In 2011, the Maryland Legislature charged the University System of Maryland (USM) Board of Regents with creating a plan to increase collaboration between the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), to promote innovation.

Early in the process of forming this strategic alliance — MPower Maryland — it became clear that access to information resources across campuses was necessary for strong collaborations in research and the development of joint programs. The three libraries on the two campuses — an academic health sciences library and a law library in Baltimore and a large research library at College Park — had a long history of working together through the University System of Maryland and Affiliated Institutions (USMAI) library consortium and moved quickly to respond to the challenge.

A Joint Collections Management Committee consisting of the Dean of University Libraries and the Collection Management Librarian from the University Libraries at UMCP, the Executive Director and Head of Collection Management from the Health Sciences and Human Services Library (HS/HSL), and the Assistant Dean for Library and Technology and the Acquisitions Librarian from Thurgood Marshall Law Library (TMLL) was formed to develop a plan for sharing library resources. Eight areas for resource sharing cooperation were identified to support the major goals of the MPower Maryland initiative:

  • Microbiology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Genomics
  • Bioengineering
  • Public Health
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • Health Law
  • Environmental Law

A journal and database subscription overlap analysis was conducted to identify weaknesses in the participating libraries’ collections in these areas. A collection development strategy was developed to address these weaknesses, including joint licensing of abstracting and indexing databases, joint participation in journal “big-deals,” and additional subscriptions by the individual libraries to equalize access to the campuses.

The MPower Maryland steering committee provided funding to support these acquisitions in fiscal year 2014 and staff at the HS/HSL on the Baltimore campus managed licensing and procurement for all three libraries. The new resources began to be available in the fall of 2013, internally branded as the MPower Virtual Research Library.

The Collections Management Committee monitored usage statistics and corresponded regularly to plan for continued enhancements to the collection. Unfortunately, the MPower Maryland steering committee reduced funding for the initiative for fiscal year 2015. Because they had been closely monitoring the usage of the collection and communicating about future goals, the Collections Management Committee was able to quickly determine what resources to drop and identify new resources to add to keep the collection relevant to the goals of the MPower Maryland Initiative.

Even though funding was reduced after the first year of operation, all of the participants consider the MPower Virtual Research Library to be a successful model. All of the licenses have been written so that other USM libraries can easily be added if their institutions are later included in the MPower Initiative. A task group of the USMAI library consortium has been exploring the model for possible use by other groupings of campuses who share specific research goals. And the three libraries involved see such promise in future collaboration that they have drafted an e-resources collection development policy in which they agree to explore joint licensing of resources that are of interest to researchers on both campuses even outside of MPower Maryland funding.

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1 Comment

  1. Jonathan Lord July 23, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    This is a well-written and detailed report on Maryland’s cooperative collection development/resource sharing partnership to create the MPower Virtual Research Library. The successful model used in this project should serve as a guide to other cooperative collection development projects between libraries in a multi-campus university system. Good work Stephen!

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