In 1984, the Alabama legislature funded the Network of Alabama Academic Libraries (NAAL) to correct deficiencies in graduate-level library resources identified by an assessment of Alabama’s academic institutions. Charged with coordinating a statewide program to strengthen and share resources, NAAL has since expanded its services to include all four-year college and university libraries and provides high quality information resources at a level unimaginable in 1984.
NAAL seeks to eliminate financial, physical, political, and technological barriers that prevent students and other users from obtaining needed information. Programs and initiatives that significantly improve the quality and quantity of information resources supporting higher education include:
- Contributing holdings information to WorldCat, OCLC’s searchable online catalog.
- Sharing library materials among members free of charge. Requested items are delivered quickly: within 24 hours for electronic transfers and overnight via UPS CampusShip for physical items.
- Collective bargaining and shared licensing of electronic databases resulting in significant savings for NAAL members.
- Assessment of academic library collections to eliminate gaps in acquisitions and achieve a collaborative research-level collection accessible to any Alabama student or researcher.
- Sponsorship of continuing education activities to enhance the skills of information professionals.
- Reciprocal Access program, a voluntary agreement between participating members to allow access to library buildings and services for currently enrolled students and faculty/staff.
- AlabamaMosaic, a freely accessible online digital collection of original and unique treasures documenting Alabama history.
- Alabama Digital Preservation Network (ADPNet), a distributed network for locally created digital content. ADPNet represents a low-cost digital preservation solution for institutions with digital collections that are freely available to the public.
- Developing the concept of a statewide virtual library, a set of core information resources supporting educational and lifelong learning needs for all Alabamians, and fostering the coalition that successfully obtained state funding to create the Alabama Virtual Library (AVL). The AVL gained national recognition as a model for other states to emulate.