The Global Resources Network & European Connections: Past & Future

By Heather Ward, Humanities Librarian, University of Oregon Libraries

WESS Newsletter
Fall 2005
Vol. 29, no. 1

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The Global Resources Network was created by a joint effort of the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) to “expand access to international resources not currently available to North American students and scholars” and make “dispersed collections more interdependent and complementary through coordinated acquisitions that are combined with powerful systems for access, discovery, presentation, and delivery.” ( Its formation in the early 1990s stemmed from the realization that libraries were collecting fewer international materials due to budget constraints in a time of growing interest in global issues. The 1994 report ( of the AAU Task Force on Acquisition and Distribution of Foreign Language and Area Studies Materials , proposed three demonstration projects. Latin American, Japanese and German areas were selected because:

[their] needs for foreign acquisitions have been identified by the ARL Foreign Acquisitions Project and they each have the personnel necessary to implement the program. These areas were also chosen because external funding is strong and because it will be possible to build on current national interests in foreign acquisitions. They will also illustrate how the program will be impacted by differing levels of network capabilities and electronic information.

In 1997, the German demonstration project got under way with a focus on expanding access to catalog records of the Deutsche Bibliothek and to regional government documents. A 1998 Andrew Mellon Foundation grant led to the formation of what is now called the German-North American Resources Partnership (GNARP). WESS members have undoubtedly read of the successes of GNARP, a partnership built upon many years of collaboration by, among others, members of the WESS Germanists’ Discussion Group and their European counterparts. Tom Kilton nicely summed up the history of the project in his paper presented at the 2003 German Resources Project Meeting in Munich, “Years and Events Leading Up to the Formation of the German Resources Project.” ( GNARP focuses primarily on collection development, bibliographic control, document delivery, and digitization.

In 2005, the Global Resources Network, and its four current projects the Cooperative African Newspapers Project, the Digital South Asia Library, the Latin Americanist Research Resources Project, and GNARP, entered into a strategic partnership with the Center for Research Libraries (CRL). Jeffrey Garrett reported on the exciting potential of this new joint venture in his article, “New Wind in GNARP Sails: An Auspicious Beginning at CRL,” in the Spring 2005 issue of Global Resources: A Newsletter of the Global Resources Network (, citing not only the benefits of “infrastructural support from an organization with extensive experience working with area studies projects, but also” the vast resources of CRL’s collections themselves.

In March of this year, Yale University hosted an invitational conference for the GRN entitled, “The Global Record: Understanding Its Use and Ensuring Its Future for Scholarship.” Scholars and librarians who study and collect materials from around the world shared first-hand stories and discussed the future of the preservation of and access to global resources. In the Spring 2005 issue of Global Resources, Eudora Loh, GRN Director, reported that conferees emphasized the continued “need for collaboration between librarians, archivists, and scholars…to promote standards for producing, collecting, archiving, and providing metadata to resources.” She also reiterated the GRN’s goal of expanding access to currently inaccessible international resources. Ann Okerson, Associate University Librarian, Collections & International Programs, Yale University, discussed the vision of a more comprehensive GRN that came out of the conference, citing suggestions that the network “might tackle not specific and regionally defined resources,” but the “structures that will facilitate creation and access” to them [“The Global Record: Understanding Its Use and Ensuring Its Future for Scholarship,” ARL: A Bimonthly Report, 240, June 2005, 1-6. (].

Whatever the future holds, the new developments for GRN are of particular interest to WESS members involved in the recently created Collaborative Initiative for French and North-American Libraries (CIFNAL) or Initiative de collaboration entre les bibliothèques françaises et nord-américaines (ICBFN). We are eager to see the launch of a French-focused cooperative project and are currently considering potential models such as that of German-North American Resources Partnership under the auspices of the Global Resources Network.

Editors' note: Since this article was written, the CRL Board of Directors has agreed to the transfer of the AAU/ARL Global Resources Network from ARL to CRL beginning in 2006. See

Editors: Sarah G. Wenzel, Paul Vermouth

Association of College & Research Libraries
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