1. What is 2CUL?
2CUL is a transformative partnership between two major academic research libraries, the Columbia University Libraries (http://www.columbia.edu/library) and the Cornell University Library (http://library.cornell.edu),  based on a broad integration of resources, collections, services, and expertise.  The collaboration is supported by a two-year planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (http://www.mellon.org/).  Ithaka  (http://ithaka.org/) provides external consultation services to the project including project management, research, and data mining and analysis. Read more.  
2. Why 2CUL and why now?
2CUL is a positive, proactive response to the rapidly evolving environment in which academic research libraries currently operate.  Specifically, motivating factors include:

  • Rapidly shifting user behaviors and expectations;
  • Redundant, inefficient library operations;
  • Increasing emphasis on unique collections and distinctive services;
  • New roles and responsibilities for research libraries within their parent universities;
  • The need to achieve scale and network effects through aggregation;
  • A mandate for systemic change;
  • New economic challenges posed by the national and international economies.

3. What are the goals of 2CUL? The 2CUL collaboration is working to achieve the following goals:

  • Improve the quality of collections and services and expertise available to key constituencies through joint innovative activities and the redirection of resources.
  • Lay the foundation for a permanent selective integration between the Columbia University Libraries and the Cornell University Library.
  • Achieve significant integration of operations, services, collections, and resources within three years, and establish a fiscal and governance framework for managing integration, initially between Columbia and Cornell.
  • Achieve significant cost savings through shared services, joint collections, and the elimination of redundancy, to respond to budget reductions and the need to invest in emerging priorities.
  • Collaborate in the pursuit of generating new resources.
  • Co-invest in critical under-supported areas and innovative new services for the universities.
  • Build understanding and support for the 2CUL collaboration among stakeholders at both universities, including library staff, university administration, faculty and students, and other university divisions. 
  • Share experiences and findings from this initiative with the broader higher education and library communities. Provide a blueprint or example for other such collaborations.

4. In what areas are the 2CUL libraries collaborating?
Initial 2CUL collaborations focus in the following three areas:

  • Technical services (acquisitions, cataloging, e-resource management); 
  • Collection development/global resources collecting;
  • Technology infrastructure/digital preservation.

In addition, there are working groups focusing on the following functional areas:

  • Communications;
  • Resource development;
  • New services for students and faculty;
  • New business/entrepreneurial services for other libraries;
  • Business planning and governance.

5. What are 2CUL's measures of success? 

  • Quality - Can 2CUL achieve better library collections and services for the students and faculty of Columbia and Cornell?
  • Productivity - Can 2CUL be more efficient and generate savings that can be reinvested in new areas?
  • Innovation - Can the libraries comprising 2CUL do new and important things together more effectively than alone?
  • Visibility - Can 2CUL inspire other groups of research libraries and other university units to work together in similar ways?

 6. Why Columbia and Cornell?
The following factors make the libraries at Columbia and Cornell a natural fit for attempting this far-reaching collaboration.   Columbia and Cornell...

  • support major academic research libraries;
  • are located in New York state;
  • are private Ivy League institutions;
  • have similar academic  and research characteristics;
  • have a track record of collaboration;
  • have a track record of innovation;
  • are facing similar budget challenges;
  • have the will and the interest to work together.

7. Is technical services integration meant to reduce headcount or spending at either university based on these efficiencies or simply to reallocate that spending to more resources (or avoid future increases)?
Efficiency is a goal but not the only one. More importantly, both libraries have emerging areas within and beyond technical services that need support. This collaboration allows us to pool our capacities, such as language and subject expertise, and reallocate resources to growth areas as defined by needs of the scholars we support on each of our campuses. 
8. How does collaborative collection development work when it comes to physical copies – how do you decide where they will be stored? Or will it apply only to electronic resources?
We are looking at both the physical and electronic resources. For physical materials, a number of approaches have been tested and put into place; for example, we analyze our collections and reduce unnecessary overlap in what we are collecting in the areas in which we are collaborating; we look at local research and instructional priorities in conjunction with our faculties and students and divide our collecting focus and where items are physically located according to these analyses. One partner may emphasize collecting in a specific geographic area when the other focuses on a different area, according to the local priorities. We will join forces when we negotiate for e-resource packages for better pricing and coverage for both our campuses where opportunities to do so exist.
9. How is the funding arranged so that each university pays an equitable portion of the collection development cost for the resources it uses?
This is worked out on a case by case basis, and we are looking at the collection as a unified whole in a growing number of areas. We build strength across the common collection by working together in this manner. Because we are doing this collecting area by collecting area, we are able to address any potential equity issues early in the process. The key is to make sure the researchers on both campuses have what they need to do their work.
10. What is the time frame for these goals beyond the scope of the current grant, and does 2CUL anticipate applying for another grant, from the Mellon foundation or elsewhere, to fund them?
Early on we made a commitment to build a lasting partnership. Both Columbia and Cornell have and will invest money and resources in sustaining the collaborative activities in addition to the technical services integration that Mellon’s grant generously covers. We have applied for smaller grants to support projects that came out of 2CUL in the past, e.g., we conducted a research project aimed at developing library intervention strategies for doctoral students in the humanities (see http://2cul.org/activities/intervention) which was jointly funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia, the Graduate School at Cornell, and the libraries at Columbia and Cornell. We will continue to do so as opportunities arise.
11. Where can I find more information about 2CUL?
You are welcome to visit the 2CUL website which contains up to date information about the project.  
12. Whom do I contact to ask questions about 2CUL?
If you have questions about 2CUL, you can contact the communications team with this form.