For the recent years, the creation of Library Consortia in all parts of the world has become an established trend. First, there were libraries in the U.S.A. that created consortia to share resources, to offer common services, to broaden access to (electronic) resources and to encounter jointly financial problems. Shortly, Northern European Countries followed their example. Library Consortia now count several years of existence. Apart from developing other services, they are especially successful in providing common access to electronic resources at very beneficiary prices through agreements made with publishers and vendors.
However, the experience gained so far show that there are great differences in the situation existing between the U.S. and Northern European Countries and the Countries of the European South. Differences refer not only to the buying power that for the South European Countries is considerably lower, but also, to different educational systems that demand special rules in the agreements with publishers and vendors.
SELL (Southern European Libraries Link) was created as an effort to bring together Libraries from Southern European Countries. The spark of its creation was a statement prepared by the Catalonian Consortium of Libraries (Spain), entitled “Why Some Libraries Pay More for Electronic Information”. This statement focused on the above mentioned differences, peculiar to Southern Countries, and the need for a special charging policy from the part of publishers and vendors.
Libraries in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and other countries of the same area of Europe have a lot in common:
- They all have very old languages that have been very important in various times in history and are feeling very strongly about their languages. English, although is quite widespread in these countries, it can not be compared with the use of English in other countries of Europe like the Netherlands, or Denmark, or other non English-speaking countries. This fact creates a lot of problems in all efforts to negotiate with producers of bibliographic databases.
- In negotiations, most of the publishers and vendors charge by student FTE which is inapplicable in the case of these countries where educational systems usually allow a great number of inactive students who are registered in their Universities but are not actually attending courses.
- According to official economic data, Southern European Countries have a much lower GDP comparing to the one of the countries of Northern Europe. Therefore, their buying power is considerably lower and on the other hand, their educational and research needs are almost at the same level.
The main goal of SELL is to address these matters to its member Libraries, to promote the special requirements of its members to information aggregators, to draw common policies towards information acquirement and provision and also, to support other fields of collaboration.