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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI Library celebrates 20 years of HELIN Consortium

Media Contact: Jan Wenzel, 874-2116

Statewide borrowing privileges expand available information

KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 28, 2004 -- When University of Rhode Island student Heather Stapleton needed a book her management professor recommended, she simply turned on her computer and searched HELIN, a vast computerized catalog of 10 academic libraries throughout Rhode Island. Within seconds, she discovered that the Community College of Rhode Island had a copy and she placed her order. A couple of days later, the book arrived.

Stapleton is one of more than 70,000 students, faculty, and staff members who have access to 4.7 million items--books, periodicals, electronic resources, videos and audio materials that can be borrowed through online requests thanks to HELIN, shorthand for Higher Education Library Information Network.
The HELIN Consortium was formed in 1984, when the libraries of the three state institutions of higher education ĖURI, Rhode Island College, and the Community College of Rhode Island-- agreed to share an automated circulation system. In time, the system was replaced by a multi-functional automated library system purchased from Innovative Interfaces, Inc.

In addition to URI, RIC, and CCRI, the consortium now includes the academic libraries of Brown University, Bryant College, the Dominion House of Studies in Washington, D.C., Providence College, Roger Williams University, Salve Regina University and Johnson & Wales University, which has campuses in Virginia, Colorado, South Carolina, and Florida.

"This was an initiative of the libraries themselves, without outside funding," said Paul Gandel, vice provost for information and dean of libraries at the University of Rhode Island. "Itís an important national model of cooperation, particularly when there are limited resources. Publics and privates in Rhode Island banded together to accomplish together what none could have done alone. The HELIN Consortium is cost efficient and effective at the same time."

HELINís reach expanded last year with the inclusion of 13 health science libraries (Butler Hospital, Eleanor Slater Hospital, Kent Hospital, Landmark Medical Center, Miriam Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital, Women & Infants Hospital, Newport Hospital, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, South County Hospital, the Naval Ambulatory Health Center, the stateís Department of Health, Roger Williams Medical Center, St. Joseph Health Services, and the VA Medical Center). The libraries will be added to the HELIN system and operational this fall, according to Robert Aspri, executive director of the consortium. Although the libraries donít contain a large collection, their medical texts are the most current.

"Each consortium member possesses strengths that helps the collective," says Aspri. "For instance, philosophy students benefit from Providence Collegeís vast collection of philosophy and religion, education students benefit from Rhode Island Collegeís information on specific curriculums, community planning students from Roger Williams Universityís architecture school, etc."

The HELIN system is located at URIís Kingston Campus. The consortium shares its technical expertise and costs associated with maintaining it.

HELIN members are discussing possible expansion and other types of services. "Weíre looking at other libraries as well as other type of data such as digital archives that could be added," Aspri noted.