by Ann Marie Deer Owens
A new collaboration of the three largest research university libraries in Tennessee and Kentucky will make more than six million volumes available to students and faculty at the universities via the Internet.
IRIS (Information Resources for Interinstitutional Sharing) _ a joint initiative of Vanderbilt University, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the University of Kentucky _ was announced April 3 during the dedication of the William T. Young Library at the University of Kentucky.
The initiative establishes a World Wide Web-based system for seeking, identifying and ordering books for interlibrary loan that speeds the delivery of these volumes to students, faculty and staff at the three universities.
IRIS will foster broad cooperation in collection development and access by the three institutions, according to Paul Gherman, Vanderbilt University librarian. "Now faculty and students can search simultaneously the catalogs of all three libraries and receive requested material through expedited interlibrary loan. By the fall, users will be able to directly request books via their local library system from all three libraries without needing to contact their interlibrary loan office," Gherman said.
Paula Kaufman, dean of libraries at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, said each library's collection brings unique strengths that make the IRIS collection an important resource for scholars. "For example, the University of Tennessee Library possesses outstanding holdings in English and American literature, materials science and civil engineering," Kaufman said.
"The University of Kentucky Library collects broadly in Southern history, architecture and agriculture, while the Vanderbilt University Library has extensive resources in Latin American studies, education and religion."
IRIS and cooperative license agreements between the universities will help improve the cost efficiency of money spent on databases. The universities' libraries also plan joint purchases of expensive but infrequently used materials. In addition, they will cooperate in archiving and preserving little-used books and journals. The three libraries have already signed a joint contract for a database called PsycINFOI, which increases their access to psychology literature and saves each institution thousands of dollars per year in subscription costs.
Paul Willis, University of Kentucky librarian, said Project IRIS will significantly enrich UK's access to books at the University of Tennessee and Vanderbilt University at the same time that the William T. Young Library offers improved resources.
"No one library can hope to meet the information needs of its students and faculty today, and our joining with our two strongest neighbors assures us of a rich information resource into the future," Willis said.
IRIS is accessible through each library's Web page. The address for the Vanderbilt Library home page is www.library.vanderbilt.edu/