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Chicago, Ill. -- LIBRAS, a consortium of private college and university libraries in the Chicago metropolitan area, celebrates its 30th anniversary in December.The consortium provides students, staff, and faculty of the eighteen member colleges ans universities access to more than 2.8 million library volumes and over 14,7000 periodical titles.Last year LIBRAS logged 114,752 interlibrary loan transactions, added 81, 195 volumes to its collections, and spent over $3.5 million on library materials.Total expenditures across the consortium were nearly $11 million.

LIBRAS libraries served an FTE enrollment of 30,697 students.LIBRAS also supports pooled resources sch as a cooperative online catalog, computerized reference services, and audio visual/ media services. In addition, the consortium maintains training and continuing education opportunities for library staff members, and provides extended borrowing privileges to students and faculty of other member libraries.

LIBRAS was formed in 1965 when Paul Knapp, then librarian o George Williams College, called for an organization of small private liberal arts colleges.Two events prompted this call: the passage of the Higher Education Act by Congress and the establishment of a statewide network of public library systems by the Illinois General Assembly.The Higher Education Act promised substantial funds for improving educational institutions, with special provisions for libraries.The statewide network excluded direct participation by academic libraries.The availability of federal funds for cooperative projects and the exclusion of college libraries from the system membership set the stage for private library cooperation.

Seven institutions responded to the call and established the consortium.Two years later, in 1967, LIBRAS had an estimated 400 interlibrary loan transactions, added 26,935 volumes to its collections, and maintained 4,384 periodical subscriptions.LIBRAS libraries spent nearly $183,000 on materials and had total expenditures across the consortium of nearly $635,000.Total volumes held numbered about 568,000.

Three decades later LIBRAS has more than doubled in size to eighteen members and experienced substantial growth in all areas of activity.The roster of LIBRAS libraries includes charter members Aurora University, Elmhurst College, Illinois Benediction College, North Central College, and Wheaton College.College libraries which have joined LIBRAS since 1971 are Barat College, College of St. Francis, Columbia College, Concordia University, Judson College, Kendall College, Lake Forest College, Lewis University, North Park College, Rosary College, St. Xavier University, Trinity International University, and Trinity Christian College.

From the beginning, LIBRAS has engaged in a number of cooperative projects which enabled its member libraries to provide more resources for educational programs at their institutions.Initially, the consortium informally extended interlibrary loan privileges to undergraduate students.The first formal project was the compilation of a union list of serials.The first list was published with the assistance of he Illinois State Library.The union list became a card file which was updated regularly until it merged with the holdings of the Suburban Library Systems in 1978.The system continued to print and distribute this list in book format.The consortium currently lists its serials through SILO (Serials Illinois Online) and OCLC.

The most massive project of LIBRAS began in 1967 when a union catalog of monographs was established.Based on the forty thousand item author card catalog of Saint Procopius College, the catalog was housed first at Saint Dominic College.After the closing of this school, the catalog was moved to Wheaton College.Member libraries phoned the union catalog service staff to learn which library owned a certain title and then called the owning library to borrow the item.Representing over 500,000 volumes in member libraries, the union catalog service staff to learn which library owned a certain title and then called the owning library to borrow the item.Representing over 500,000 volumes in member libraries, the union catalog was closed and microfilmed in 1978.Copies were distributed to member libraries and were made available for sale.OCLC membership made the catalog unnecessary.

Early in 1976 the Kellogg Foundation offered to underwrite the cost of subscribing to the Ohio College Library Center (now the bibliographic utility OCLC).By the end of the year of the LIBRAS libraries were members of OCLC.

Various other projects have been initiated by LIBRAS through the years.A trial period of allowing direct patron borrowing of materials between Elmhurst College and George Williams College patrons led to LIBRAS-wide on-site borrowing in 1972.Projects such as cooperative selection of materials and limited cooperative purchasing have been conducted from time to time.An ongoing project has been the duplication and distribution of ERIC microfiche documents.Special funding for continuing education opportunities has been a part of the LIBRAS annual budget for the past several years.A project was inaugurated in 1986 to establish a library management internship.

LIBRAS members have been in the vanguard of the library cooperative movement in Illinois.All were charter members of the Illinois Regional Library Council, all joined OCLC, and all affiliated with library systems.The consortium was incorporated as a legal non-profit organization in 1983 as LIBRAS, INC.

All members participate in ILLINET, the statewide automated library network.LIBRAS has served as a model for other cooperative organizations, including the Chicago Academic Library Council (CALC), and Cooperation Libraries in Consortium (CLIC) located in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Consortium boasts a number of special collections and archives within its membership.The Charles B. Phillips Library at Aurora University houses the Jenks Memorial Collection of Adventual Materials, the Ethel W. Tapper Memorial Rare Book Room, the Prouty/Perry Shakespeare Collections, and the Ritzman Lincoln-Civil War Collection.Concordia University’s Klinck Memorial Library houses the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) on microfiche.The Columbia College Library maintains special collections of Film and Television Scripts, the Black Music Research Collection, and a microfilmed copy of the History of Photography.The A.C. Buehler Library at Elmhurst College contains annual reports of corporations and associations.The Theodore Lownik Library at Illinois Benedictine College holds an Abraham Lincoln Collection, Autograph Collection, College Archives, Czech Heritage Collection, the John N. Erlenborn Papers, and a rare book collection.In addition IBC is a Federal and State documents depository.Special collections at Judson College’s Benjamin P. Browne Library include Baptist collections, Missions, Phonorecords and tapes, and the Schofield Collection of Music.The Kendall College Library has special collections on Native American Indians and the Culinary Arts.Donnelley Library, Lake Forest College, supports special collections in Scottish history and culture, Railroads (Steam, Live Steam, Narrow Gauge, Western U.S.), Western America, and Theater.The manuscript collections include papers of Captain Joseph Medill Patterson, founder of The New York Daily News.Lewis University collections include the Library of American Civilization and the Library of English Literature.Lewis is also a partial government documents repository.The special collections of Oesterle Library, North Central College include a Lincoln Collection, Jazz Collection, Limited Editions, and the Haven Hubbard Collection (English Literature in find bindings).North Park College, site of the LIBRAS archives, maintains other archives and special collections including: the Covenant Archives and Historical Library, Swedish-American Archives of Greater Chicago, archives of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study, Private Academic Libraries of Illinois (PALI) archives, Jenny Lind Collection, Walter Johnson Collection of Scandinavian Literature, Godfrey J. Anderson Lincoln Collection, Paul L. Holmer Collection, Harald W. Jacobson China Studies Collection, and the Nils William Olsson Scandinavian Collection.The Rebecca Crown Library of Rosary College serves as a partial federal government documents repository.Trinity International University special collections include materials on the American Enterprise Institute.Trinity Christian College library includes a Dutch Heritage Center.Buswell Memorial Library at Wheaton College includes a number of special collections and archives including: Wheaton College archives, Landon Southeast Asia Collection, W. Akin Rare Book Collection, E.B. Batson Shakespeare Collection, the papers of F. Buechner, M. L’Engle, C. Miller, M. Muggeridge, and R. Siegal, the Wader Center Collection which focuses on the works of Owen Barfield, G.K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Dorothy L. Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams, The Billy Graham Center, which collects published materials on Christian evangelism and missions, and the Graham Center Archives, which includes over 500 collections on the history of North America non-denominational Protestant efforts to spread the Christian gospel.

Ann Briody, head of circulation services at North Park College, Chicago, is the current president of LIBRAS.Sandra Donahue, head of technical services at Elmhurst College, is vice-president/president-elect.Alan Barney, director of the library at Barat College, is the editor of the LIBRAS Lines, the consortium newsletter.Timothy J. Johnson, director of archives at North Park College, serves as archivist for the consortium.

Originally compiled by Bert A. Thompson, LIBRAS Archivist.