University of Connecticut Libraries



Selected Examples of Current Partnerships

Forming New Partnerships: A Guide

Library Criteria for New Partnerships

Reviewing Existing Partnerships

Partnership Proposal Form


Forming partnerships to achieve institutional goals is a growing trend within libraries and in the academic community. Such unions allow the sharing of expertise, provide access to a wider range of resources than may be possible within one’s own area or organization, and strengthen the library’s position within the university. Parent institutions and funding agencies look favorably on cooperative efforts and often encourage their development by providing greater support to programs involving partners rather than to single entities.

The University of Connecticut Libraries (UCL) seeks actively to form partnerships that further the university’s and the library’s strategic goals and current program priorities. Some partnerships, particularly those within the university, may be viewed as a natural development from standard library service. Often, these depend on the entrepreneurial spirit and enthusiasm of one or two individuals who see a need and seek to address it, or who identify an opportunity and seek to take advantage of it. The Information Technology Survival Skills course on the Stamford Campus is a good example of librarians and faculty forming a partnership to accomplish a goal that meets an important university and library goal. In other cases, for example, the Connecticut History Online Project, a partnership can involve several organizations, large sums of money, and formal, legal obligations.

The library seeks to nurture an environment where relatively straightforward partnerships can be formed and implemented without undue delay, and where more elaborate proposals receive the detailed attention can receive the careful review and approval that they require. In every case, however, some level of discussion and review, even if just with one’s area head, is necessary in order to clarify questions like the following:

There are many different kinds of partnerships. James Kopp, writing in Library Administration & Management, describes the types of partnerships that libraries may form as ranging from "library to library partnerships, one library to many libraries, many libraries to many libraries, library or libraries to vendors, consortial partnerships, and often overlooked but critically important, those partnerships within libraries or between libraries in another part of an institution." ("Documenting Partnerships: Here a MOU, There a MOU," LAMA, Spring 1999)

UCL partnerships have increased significantly in recent years--some as a result of institutional encouragement, others arising from organizations approaching UCL seeking access to the library’s collections or technological capabilities, and still others where the UCL has sought to join with organizations, such as NERL, to seek advantages that are unobtainable to the individual library.


Selected Examples of Current Partnerships


Definition Partnerships that exist between UCL, or a unit of UCL, and another entity--a school, department or program--within the university. Some relationships may be regarded as a part of "standard" library service (e.g., team teaching a university course) and require no special documentation or review except by the parties involved. Other arrangements, particularly those in which tangible resources are exchanged, require documentation, approval at the appropriate level, and periodic evaluation.

Inter-Institutional Partnerships

Definition A formal relationship between UCL, or a unit within UCL, and one or more libraries or other units at another institution. An inter-institutional partnership involves cooperation between the partners based on specific responsibilities and a defined common interest. An inter-institutional partnership should serve to facilitate the operational, service and strategic goals of the partners or to enhance the profile and advance the mission of the partners. These relationships must be documented and approved at a level beyond the area head. If money is involved, university approval may be required. All such arrangements should be reviewed regularly.

Consortial Partnerships

Definition Affiliation with a formal association of libraries, usually restricted to a geographical area, number of libraries, type of library or subject interest, which is established to develop and implement resource sharing. Library consortia vary widely in the nature and range of their objectives. These relationships normally require formal permanent or ad hoc membership in an organization. Typically, annual membership dues are assessed, and often, members are expected to contribute additional resources toward the accomplishment of mutually agreed upon goals or projects. They require varying degrees of approval and oversight, but all relationships involving money or the provision of services should be documented, approved by the library’s administration, and reviewed periodically.

Grant Partnerships

Definition Partnerships formed when UCL, or a unit of UCL, joins another organization to apply for and manage funding provided by a granting agency. Grants that require the performance of services or the creation of products in exchange for funding are legal relationships requiring thorough documentation, approval at the library and university levels, and formal evaluation within the library, and often, for the granting agency.

Corporate Partnerships

Definition Agreements for service, equipment, data, or joint development between the UCL, or a unit of the UCL, and a for-profit business, often a library vendor. This type of partnership typically is a legal relationship requiring full documentation, approval at the library and university levels, and periodic, formal evaluation.

Forming New Partnerships: A Guide

The following steps are a guide for an individual who proposes to form a partnership.

1) Draft a definition of the partnership/project and its goals, including a general outline of the program.

2) Decide if the partnership can be effected using only resources under your control or whether additional resources will be required.

3) If you can provide all resources, move forward with planning, informing your area head of the program before you proceed. (Example: Liaison develops specialized program with his/her department)

4) If resources beyond your control are required, discuss the project and the resources required with your area head. (Example: Developing a digital program with another university, requiring support from ITS and RIS)

5) If your area head agrees to support the project, review it against the Library Criteria for Partnerships (see below) to assess its acceptability and potential for success.

6) If you and your area head agree that the proposal meets most important criteria, negotiate the details of the proposal with potential partners and develop it fully using the form below.

7) Present the full proposal to the appropriate decision-maker(s): area head/s or Leadership Council for approval

  1. If the partnership is approved, draft an appropriate agreement, memorandum of understanding(MOU), or contract, and submit it for approval to the appropriate university official (area head, director of library services, attorney general, university president) and to your partners.

9) Implement the partnership project.

10) Review project progress periodically and make appropriate adjustments.

11) Publicize the partnership project.

12) Archive the partnership agreement and reports.


Library Criteria for Forming or Reviewing Partnerships

(In priority order)

1) The partnership supports the UCL mission, goals, and priorities.

2) The partnership builds upon existing UCL strengths

3) The UCL has the resources and the enthusiasm to create a successful partnership

4) The partnership allows the UCL to provide access to information not currently available or to carry out activities or program that it could not do alone or under existing partnerships

5) The partnership brings the UCL together with a partner or partners who have common interests in the project, will participate on an equitable basis, and will each appoint a partner leader.

6) The UCL strives to develop partnerships with institutions who have similar cultures, who are in close proximity, and are of comparable parity.

  1. Partnerships should create goodwill and enhance the University of Connecticut public


Reviewing Existing Partnerships

Partnerships having an end date will be reviewed using the partnership guidelines and criteria when the partnership comes up for renewal. Where partnerships have no end date, the appropriate area head will be responsible for developing a timeline for reviewing those that affect his/her area. The actual partnership review shall be carried out whenever possible by the library staff member responsible for starting or championing the partnership agreement.

University of Connecticut Libraries

Partnership Proposal


Use as much space as required and attach relevant documents


Staff Member Requesting Partnership


Partner(s) Names/Titles/Organizations


Describe the partnership/project including (attach any relevant documents):

1) Define the goals, activities, expectations, and products

2) Its relationship to library and university goals

3) An implementation plan explaining the responsibilities of the partners

4) The resources required (staff, funding, equipment) and how these will be provided

  1. A project timeline including dates for start-up, evaluation, and closure or continuation
  2. If a product is created, who owns the product



Briefly describe the impact of the partnership on each library area that is affected by the proposal.



If the project is to be sustained after the initial effort is complete, indicate how it will be maintained.



Approved Disapproved Returned for further review


Signature (s)