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Internationalization in higher education and global access in a digital age

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Purpose ‐ This article seeks to propose that ‐ as university faculty and students increasingly engage in research, teaching, and learning in international locations ‐ librarians at the home campus need to expand the geographic range of their public services planning. Specifically, it aims to suggest that written agreements with university library partners in other countries can be used to provide patrons with access to collections, expertise, and study space during their residence abroad. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The article provides an overview of agreements (the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)) concluded by East Asia Library staff at Yale University to secure access for Yale affiliates to the University of Tokyo and Waseda University Libraries, both in Tokyo, Japan. These institutional arrangements facilitated a level of access not possible for an individual researcher or student. Findings ‐ The agreement with the University of Tokyo is an example of a detailed reciprocal arrangement providing both library use and borrowing privileges. The agreement with Waseda is also reciprocal, but the written language is much less specific; nevertheless, the framework provided by this general MOU now allows enhanced access services for patrons. Originality/value ‐ Unlike most of the international library exchanges and partnerships described in library literature to date, this case study developed from the idea that agreements be strategic and designed to serve user needs. While there is an extensive literature about serving international students and researchers, this article provides a shift in perspective by focusing on what the "sending institution" can do through strategic agreements to enhance library services for patrons abroad.
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Keywords: Academic libraries; Digital libraries; Higher education; International cooperation; Service delivery

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 2, 2009

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