Columbia and Cornell Libraries Announce New Partnership Mellon Grant Supports Joint Venture

NEW YORK, October 12, 2009 -- The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded $385,000 to the libraries at Columbia University in New York City and Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., to support the development of an innovative partnership dubbed “2CUL.” This new relationship has the potential to become the most expansive collaboration to date between major research libraries.

Starting this fall, Cornell and Columbia will plan significant partnerships in collaborative collection development, acquisitions and processing. The two universities will form a separate service entity to facilitate the collaboration. Ithaka, a not-for-profit organization that assists research libraries and the academic community to leverage advancing information technologies, will provide project management and assist in the planning. Initial work will focus on several global collecting areas, as well as collaborative funding and support of technical infrastructure in various areas.

2CUL — pronounced “too cool” — stands for the acronyms of both Columbia University Library and Cornell University Library. The partnership is not a merger, and the two libraries remain separate institutions.

“2CUL represents a new, radical form of collaboration that pairs two leading research libraries in a voluntary, equal partnership,” said James G. Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University. “Columbia University Libraries and Cornell University Library are committed to developing an enduring and transformative partnership that will enable us to achieve greater efficiencies and effectiveness and to address new challenges through combined forces.”

“2CUL will ameliorate the impact of budget cuts while building our libraries’ ability to innovate,” said Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell University. “This partnership is predicated on Cornell and Columbia’s shared commitment to reinvigorate our libraries in response to and in anticipation of changes in digital access, interdisciplinary research and scholarly communication. It also allows us to provide the best possible experience for our users.”

Over the next two years, 2CUL will explore ways to improve the quality of collections and services offered to campus constituencies, redirect resources to emerging needs, and make each institution more competitive in securing government and foundation support. The relationship could also provide a new blueprint for broad, non-exclusive partnerships between other academic libraries and other parts of the academy.

“This proposed collaboration can serve as a model of inter-institutional partnership for other aspects of our work,” said Cornell Provost Kent Fuchs. “We are pleased to partner with Columbia to continue to provide excellent service with fewer resources while increasing productivity and minimizing redundant operations.”

"The 2CUL project brings together the talents and resources of two of the finest research libraries in the country,” said Columbia Provost Claude Steele. “We are gratified that the Mellon Foundation recognizes the potential of this partnership for creating innovative models for maintaining and building excellence in our research libraries in this turbulent economic environment.”

About 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 10 million volumes, over 100,000 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 is the gateway to its services and resources.

About Cornell University Library
Cornell University is both an Ivy League institution and New York's land-grant university. Among the top ten academic research libraries in the country, Cornell University Library reflects the university's distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. The Library offers cutting-edge programs and facilities, a full spectrum of services, extensive collections that represent the depth and breadth of the university, and a deep network of digital resources. Its impact reaches beyond campus boundaries with initiatives that extend the land grant mission to a global focus. In 2002, the Library received the Excellence in Academic Libraries Award from the Association of College and Research Libraries. To learn more, visit

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