The virtual library : consequences for the development of collections in the Netherlands

The purchasing power of academic libraries in the Netherlands has declined sharply. In this critical situation the most obvious solution seems to be resource sharing. The electronic infrastructure by which this can be achieved is very well organized in the Netherlands, but the availability of documents and resources is becoming a problem. The situation is further complicated by the growing importance of information resources in new formats which compete for the limited funds. Coordinated collection building aims to broaden the coverage of research holdings by cutting costs through minimizing any unnecessary overlap of specialist research publications. However, the collections are still being increasingly restricted only to essential works, so the possibilities for exchange appear to be compromised, despite the efficiency of the inter-library loan network. The librarians have to become information specialists to help the end-user efficiently and effectively with printed as well as electronic sources.