A library consortium is a group of libraries who partner to coordinate activities, share resources, and combine expertise. The International Coalition of Library Consortia is an informal discussion group of such consortia. Library consortia offer significant advantages to increasingly strapped libraries. The sharing of resources, and collaboration on shared goals often enable libraries to deliver higher quality services than they would be able to deliver on their own.
Interlibrary loan (ILL) is a system that allows for libraries to borrow and share materials across a wide variety of topics as well as vast geographic locations. It is the most common use of cooperation between libraries as well as within specific consortia. Consortia can grow into something that covers much larger ground than a simple inter-library loan agreement. Many consortia within the United States have ventured further and developed collaborative integrated library systems, or ILS. Examples of these integrated systems include:
Some library consortia exist to share expertise and best practice, pool training resources between institutions, fund research, and provide advocacy to raise the visibility of certain issues. The CLAUD consortium in Southern and South-West England, which promotes accessibility and inclusion in libraries, is one such consortium.[Note 1]
There are many benefits for libraries that wish to create or join consortia. Though many have fees for entry, in the end the library finds itself saving a great deal on funding by sharing resources with other members of the consortia. Also, a single library's collection will greatly increase much faster than staying solitary. Additionally, the creation and utilization of inter-library cooperation has the ability to greatly improve communication and relationships across vast fields and can encourage cross-discipline cooperation as well as collaborations.
A library system is a central organization created to manage and coordinate operations and services in or between different centers, buildings or libraries branches and library patrons. They use a library classification to organize their volumes and nowadays also use an Integrated library system - an enterprise resource planning system for a library used to track items owned, orders made, bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed. Many counties, states and universities have developed their own library systems. For example, the London Public Library in Canada has 16 branches, and the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Libraries, in Finland, has 63 libraries. Some countries, such as Venezuela, have only one library system for the whole country; the National Library of Venezuela has 685 branches.