NLS On the Move

September 30, 2021


New cooperative agreement will ensure standards are clear and consistent

Throughout its 90-year history, the NLS network has operated on a “handshake” basis. However, with increased focus on security, privacy, and data usage, NLS—in keeping with Library of Congress policy—is implementing written cooperative agreements with its network libraries.

“In recent years there has been interest in an agreement from both members of the network and the Library of Congress,” Patron and Network Engagement Division Chief Mark Santangelo said. “A written agreement will bring clear definition and guidelines with respect to issues such as privacy and data usage. And it ensures that the standards that govern participation in the network—our respective roles, responsibilities, the things we do for one another—are clearly stated, understood, and uniform.”

The process began in May, when Santangelo and then-director Karen Keninger briefed COSLA, the organization of chief officers of state library administrative agencies. “Since many state librarians would be the ones signing the document, we needed their full support,” Santangelo said. “They said it was a great idea and we received their endorsement.”

The next step was updating the NLS Network Library Manual, which lays out NLS policies and procedures, so the agreement could easily reference it and avoid redundancy. “We spent the summer making sure all the NLS divisions had reviewed and updated their entries, and we added a few new ones” to cover topics such as Duplication on Demand and the currency reader program, he said. (The new manual will be available soon on the Network Library Services website.)

“All the specific details that regulate the agreement are included in the manual, which allows the agreement itself to be simple, short, and the same for the entire network. It essentially says, ‘We’re part of the NLS network, and our policies, procedures, and operations are consistent with the Network Library Manual,‘” Santangelo said.

“Establishing an agreement of this sort is not a new initiative in our history,” he added. “We’ve had several in the past that have now expired.” The agreement, in fact, is very similar to one that eight network libraries recently signed before they began testing a new interface with WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization, as part of NLS’s participation in the Marrakesh Treaty.

Santangelo will begin meeting with network libraries and their parent organizations this fall—once the Library’s legal counsel signs off on the final wording—to explain the agreement and facilitate its signing.

• • •

NLS’s new Director, Jason Broughton, started work September 13. We look forward to providing opportunities for him to speak with the network in the coming weeks and months. Meanwhile, you can learn more about his professional and academic background in this Library of Congress news release.