This paper seeks to analyze the different forms of library cooperation and the different types of relations that can be established for collaboration among libraries.
The paper attempts to show how cooperation as an application of the social intelligence is a tool to improve library services. For that, the paper uses the situation of Spanish university libraries between 1980 and 2005. Adopting an evolutionary approach, the study shows how cooperation has affected library organizations, and concludes that the current situation shows an intelligent adaptation to the needs of society.
Using the evolution of the academic libraries in Spain between 1980 and 2005, the paper analyzes six different forms of relation or cooperation that can be established by libraries. Those are: companionship, collaboration, association, cooperation, alliances and fraternization. The paper attempts to provide some guidelines for cooperation that may be of value to university libraries in their path towards the future. The approach is global, systemic and evolutionary. It is global in the sense that Spanish university libraries are taken as a model for exemplifying trends that are applicable to all types of libraries all over the world. It is systemic in the sense that it sees the Spanish case as one of a wide range of processes that do not occur in isolation in a world in which libraries – even at an international level – form part of a whole. Finally, it is evolutionary in the sense that it considers that the future will be built on our current achievements, which in turn depended on those of the past.
The paper is of interest because it reveals that the development of individual living beings and species depends to a large extent on their ability to cooperate. Similarly, the development of organizations and groups of organizations depends on their ability to work together and to establish a framework in which individual goals are attained thanks to external achievements or situations. Libraries are no exception to this, and may in fact serve as a paradigmatic example. Throughout history they have tended to develop powerful mechanisms of cooperation.
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