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Library consortia in Germany

By Werner Reinhardt and Peter te Boekhorst


Whenever German librarians talk about consortia in the presence of lawyers\ud (even if they are libarians themselves) they meet with vehement protest. In\ud German the legal term „consortium“ is restricted to a relatively narrow\ud meaning. In „Meyers neues Lexikon“ from 1993 it is defined as: „Bank merger\ud for stock exchange dealings and credit transactions ...“ And from the same\ud source the definition of consortial business: „Syndicate business for which\ud several members (mostly banks) join up for a consortium. Reasons for forming\ud a consortium are: 1. Overstraining of the financial resources of each individual\ud consortium member, 2. spreading of risks ...“ 1\ud While risk-spreading is not really an issue for libraries, their financial\ud resources are undoubtedly overstrained. There are three reasons: the pricing\ud policy – that is to say the heavy annual price rise – of the publishers, the\ud rapidly increasing number of academic publications not likely to slow down in\ud the foreseeable future as well as the expectations and wishes of our users and\ud customers, the scientific community. Therefore, the term „purchasing\ud association“ may be the correct one from a (German) legal point of view. As\ud in many similar cases the term was adopted from an Anglo-American background\ud with a much broader meaning: „Partnership, association. Now more\ud specifically an association of business, banking or manufacturing organizations.“\ud 2 In Germany the term „consortium“ is now widely used for joint\ud actions of libraries

Topics: consortia, licencing
Year: 2001
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