A total of 48 Taiwanese and Hong Kong universities yesterday cooperated with the Online Computer Library Center to set up the biggest English-language net-based library in the Asia Pacific area with a total collection of 52,000 English books.
The digital library was launched yesterday and Feng Chia University President Liu An-chi (劉安之), City University of Hong Kong Librarian Steve Ching, OCLC Vice President Richard L. Rosy and the Deputy Minister of the Education Ministry Fan Sun-lu (范巽綠) attended the launching ceremony.
According to Fan, the successful establishment of the online library shows that the cooperative acquisition program for English books among the 42 domestic universities and six Hong Kong's universities had been highly successful and she believed that more universities would participate in the program next year. An added incentive to do so is the fact that all affiliated universities have access to the resource material.
She added that the successful cooperation of the 48 universities not only decreased the cost of books, but also 'bequeathed' to the universities in an instant a huge collection of English books. According to Feng Chia University, the cooperative acquisition program decreased the cost of a book from US＄77.5 to US＄1 on average.
Liu explained that the 48 universities had initiated the start of the program in June with each institution providing at least US＄50,000 for the program and the MOE offering about US＄0.9 million to subsidize the acquisition program.
Liu continued that the funds allowed the alliance to buy a great deal of English books at one time affording the OCLC the opportunity to give a special discount of 40 percent to the alliance. According to Feng Chia University, the alliance spent about US＄330 buying 52,000 English books and the market value of the 52,000 English books is about US＄550.
Liu pointed out that generally speaking a university has to spend five to ten years to accumulate such a huge collection because English books are not cheap and university budgets can be highly restrictive.
Liu added that there are 23 university libraries in Taiwan and the total collection of all their English books is nearly 50,000 books while the net-based library already has 52,000 English books. About 300,000 students will benefit from the net library, she said.
Richard L. Rosy stressed that despite the large size of the collection, "quality" had not been sacrificed, pointing out that popular search engines only provided common and general information, but the OCLC offered academic resources.
Fan hoped that half of all domestic universities would become alliance members before the end of next year and stressed that the net library should be regarded as the foundation stone of the age of digital learning. Ching reminded students and teachers that although such a library was indeed a great boon, intellectual property rights should not be infringed upon.