|Abstract:||Cooperation among libraries is by no means a fresh and new idea. I need
only mention interlibrary loan, centralized cataloging, personal use of reference,
bibliographic records of holdings among groups of libraries, and agreements on
planned joint acquisition of resources, including one among three large libraries
in Chicago that is dated 1895. I do not know when the first book was exchanged
between libraries in the United States, but I do know that the February 1913
issue of Library Journal carries an article on interlibrary loan that asks how long
larger libraries can continue to carry the load of requests from smaller libraries
without some compensating return. 1 Illinois began to answer the question half a
century later by passing state legislation providing payments to designated
reference and research centers.
The early literature does not use the word cooperation as much as we do
now, but the term may well apply in its purest meaning to the spontaneous,
informal sharing of resources that was fairly common by the turn of the century.
For a considerable period, libraries in cities, towns, schools, colleges, and
universities were hard pressed to keep up with immediate and mounting local
demands, Following this came a considerable lull in concrete cooperative
projects among libraries. A man trying to keep his own boat afloat does not have
much time to engage in squadron maneuvers with others, but a man who realizes
he is destined in time to sink alone, does look around for help.