"Enriching the collective resources": an historical analysis of the Network of Alabama Academic Libraries, 1984-2009

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University of Alabama Libraries

This study examines the origins and evolution of the Network of Alabama Academic Libraries (NAAL), from 1984-2009, distinguishes achievement factors leading to success of the network, and explores issues to inform future decisions. The study focuses on the organization of NAAL; the pioneers who envisioned and encouraged the inception, development, and expansion of the network; and mitigating situational influences. Data were gathered through investigation of oral histories and primary documents, and analysis was made through an organizational life cycle framework to organize evidence characterizing NAAL's evolution. Highlights of the twenty-five-year timeline included a catalog describing the collections of academic libraries statewide, best practices for statewide collection development, expedited interlibrary loan, a statewide virtual library for all citizens of Alabama, and digitized collections of Alabama's unique historical treasures. Against a backdrop of advancing technology and hybrid funding, the most significant factors identified as affecting the sustained success of the network are inventive leadership, collective momentum, and strategic visibility.

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Library science, History