The development of library Consortia in Zimbabwe was necessitated by the need to reduce subscription costs and to widen access to electronic resources as well as implement new technologies among academic libraries. The development of Zimbabwe University Library Consortium (ZULC) and College and Research Library Consortium (CARLC) enabled libraries to cooperate and collaborate in building capacity to support teaching, learning and research through access to quality scholarly information. The trajectory of consortia development in Zimbabwe since 2002 has however been characterised by a focus on the academic sector to the exclusion of other types of libraries. The future development of library consortia in Zimbabwe can be better envisioned when correlated with the country’s national development agenda. While not made explicit, this agenda is underpinned by the idea of access to information.
This study investigated how the benefits of the existing library consortia can be harnessed to promote the achievement of Zimbabwe’s national development goals.
More specifically, it examined the ways that the development paths of ZULC and CARLC can be transformed to support the country’s national development agenda and programmes. This culminated in a model that will accelerate and guide the future development of its library consortia to facilitate a supporting developmental role. The novel aspect of this study is that it seeks to integrate library consortia into the national development plans of a developing country and to extend their benefits as widely as possible.
An extensive literature review of the characteristics, models, and development of consortia in selected countries was complemented by an empirical mixed-method component that generated data through interviews, questionnaires, observation, and the analysis of key documents. A special feature of the study is a detailed analysis of the successes and challenges of library consortia in other countries and in the Southern African region to supplement the empirical data that informs the proposed model. The main finding is that a model with a multi-type structure and a National Coordinating Committee is best to transform the development paths of Zimbabwe’s academic library consortia to support the country’s national development agenda. The model’s key elements are finance, structure, governance, functions, and special features.