Library co‐operation has always been assumed to be a good thing, but much thinking has focused on the means of co‐operation rather than on the ends that co‐operation is intended to serve, neglecting to fully explore other means of attaining those ends. Co‐operative schemes have rarely been subjected to rigorous cost‐effectiveness analysis; most have been national or sub‐national rather than international; and some areas where co‐operation could be useful have received little attention. Co‐operation on a goodwill basis is already giving way to commercial arrangements between libraries as well as with private suppliers. The growth in the number of private providers of various services, together with the ability of information technology to transcend geographical boundaries, are among factors that make a radical reappraisal of co‐operation desirable.
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