BOOK AND SOFTWARE REVIEWS
Patil, Yalagouda M Consortium approach to resource sharing in an e-environment. Jodhpur, India: Scientific Publishers, 2014. xxiv, 333 p. ISBN 978-81-7233-882-4. Rs.1250.00
It is not often that a book published in India comes my way. This one has arrived with a stamp of ‘Review copy’ in purple ink on the title page. I thought that this is a good reminder for a reviewer in this age when time is slipping away leaving so many matters unfinished today.
Another reason for looking closer into this text was a start of a project in an African country where one of the big issues is resource sharing among existing libraries.
The author of the book has been working with library consortia in India seemingly from their advent in India. His main experience is in special librarianship and it is felt in the text as there is practically nothing about public library consortia.
Nevertheless, the book covers an extensive ground: the current state of resource sharing among libraries and other partners through computer networks; licensing of e-journals and the need for consortia to pool negotiation power; essential features and activities of library consortia and their brief history in the USA, UK, China and India; types and organizational models of this type of organizations; business models of consortia; their mergers and migration, and many more. Quite a significant attention is given to the models of licensing of e-journals through library consortia and the process of negotiations. The author does not forget one of the most recent goals of consortia involving a number of different organizations and aiming at digital preservation.
The last two chapters are devoted to the emergence of consortia in India and their experiences. These two chapters partly summarize some other information provided about consortia in India, but also introduce new facts and data.
The author introduces quite different participants in consortia related to purchasing and licensing of digital materials, such as research institutions, publishers, and libraries. He provides enough material to understand their different concerns and roles. Their common efforts benefit users of those materials and also enable the participants themselves to understand each other better.
There is no doubt that text reflects rich and useful experience of its author, demonstrates vast knowledge acquired in the field of consortia activities. The writing is up to date, terminology is well-defined, reference list quite exhaustive.
On the other hand, the text of the chapters is fragmented into too many sub-chapters. They are of unequal significance and size, some reduced to bulleted lists. The text is densely packed with facts and acronyms and in some places quite unreadable. It seems that the book is meant to use as a handbook, rather than to be read as a coherent text. The final chapter that should provide an overview of Indian consortia experience does not summarize anything and reminds one of lecture notes or a seminar plan. This mode of presentation reduces the benefits of the book to the reader and will reduce interest in it.
It is really a pity, because some of the chapters are quite well written and interesting to read.
This fragmentary nature of the text and poor editorial quality reduces the value of the book, which could otherwise attract attention of many librarians in the countries, which need to develop or re-organize their library consortia.