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.