May 21, 2013

Texas A&M And University Of Texas Systems To Open Joint Library Facility Friday

The Texas A&M University System and The University of Texas System will celebrate the opening Friday (May 24) of their Joint Library Facility at Texas A&M University’s Riverside Campus. The 18,000-square-foot library facility represents an unprecedented collaboration between the state’s two largest university systems to provide joint storage of more than a million books and make them available for use by other academic or medical institutions.

The program begins at 10:30 a.m. with remarks and ribbon cutting led by officials of both university systems followed by an open house and tour. Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, Texas A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin, and Texas A&M Libraries Dean David Carlson will offer remarks and participate in the ribbon-cutting. Representing The University of Texas System on the program will be Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Pedro Reyes and Vice Provost and Director of UT Libraries Fred Heath.

the front of the new joint library facility

The facility will enable the UT and Texas A&M libraries to store print books and journals using high density shelving.

“This is a prime example of two flagship university systems working together, not only for the benefit of the students and faculties at their institutions but also for the benefit of their counterparts at colleges, universities and other scholarly entities throughout Texas and elsewhere,” said Sharp. “This joint endeavor demonstrates good stewardship of funding and other resources entrusted to us by the state, which, of course, ultimately means the citizens of Texas.”

Texas A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin agreed, adding that he is pleased to have the facility located in Aggieland and operated by Texas A&M library faculty and staff.

“We consider it a privilege to host this specialized facility that will help preserve a million or more books and other documents for scholars today and in the future,” Loftin said. “It’s a grand opportunity to partner with our University of Texas counterparts in this worthy endeavor.”

University of Texas at Austin President William C. Powers joined in praising the collaborative effort.

“We are delighted to participate in this innovative venture with Texas A&M,” Powers said in a released statement. “As the state’s flagship research institutions, our library holdings help address today’s needs while providing a foundation for Texans of tomorrow. The joint library storage facility will provide for the preservation of this vital cultural record, while ensuring that the books and documents remain available for study and research for students and scholars.”

Heath cited the benefits of the cooperative endeavor.

“At a time when academic libraries face twin challenges of limited space and diminishing financial resources, this collaborative solution is a model for how unified efforts can result in positive outcomes for all involved,” Heath pointed out. “While we maintain a competitive rivalry that constantly challenges our respective institutions to reach ever higher, we also recognize that we share common goals that benefit from working together. The success of this project is another example of that collaborative spirit.”

Carlson, who will serve as master of ceremonies at the facility’s formal opening, cited the technological advantages offered by the facility in service to the scholarly community.

“As we rely increasingly on digital technologies for access to information, this facility allows us to protect the vital legacy of print materials and provide timely access to the originals,” Carlson explained.

The $6.3 million construction project at the Riverside Campus, the former Bryan Air Force Base located about 10 miles northwest of the main Texas A&M campus, began in the summer of 2012

The facility will enable the UT System and Texas A&M System libraries to store print books and journals using high density shelving, minimizing the physical requirements and costs of print storage.

Officials explained the new facility will help alleviate pressures as libraries continue to add volumes and related resources. The facility will keep the burden of storage costs off individual campuses in both systems.

To streamline collections, the collaborating institutions will implement a novel process of “sharing” a single copy of duplicated holdings in the new facility.  The process will eliminate redundancy while making a “shared” copy available for research and study among users at multiple institutions.

Texas A&M University in College Station and The University of Texas at Austin have collaborated on projects in the past, including the Texas Digital Library and preservation storage in the High Density Repository on the J.J. Pickle Campus in Austin. The Joint Library Facility represents a new degree of cooperation by incorporating the resource-in-common model for all materials in the facility and including general academic and medical campuses from both systems.

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Media contact: Lane Stephenson, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4662

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