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Access for Cluster libraries

CERL has decided to extend the benefit of Single membership by encouraging its members to give access to the HPB database in smaller collections with which they have a working relationship. This can be local or regional, a subject orientation, or through a union catalogue. The maximum of institutions that can form a cluster is fifteen. If further cluster libraries are required, these may be allowed at a cost of 500 Euros a year.

Directors and members have agreed to the following conditions:

  • Access will be given only to the HPB Database. Any other files that are accessible in priced searches to all forms of membership except Associate members will not be available to the cluster libraries.
  • Access to the database by cluster libraries has to be proposed by a Single member and be approved by the Board of Directors.
  • The period covered by approval will be three years and will coincide with the Single member’s Funding Agreement, and will be reviewed at the end of that period in order to ensure that the arrangement is operating to satisfaction.
  • The number of cluster libraries that can be attached to a Single membership must not exceed fifteen.
  • The cluster libraries are not members / partners of the Consortium, and have no voting rights in meetings. The Single member is their sole representative.
  • The cluster libraries do not have the right to be represented on CERL’s committees or boards.
  • The cluster libraries will not be allocated individual CERL accounts.
  • The Single member will be accountable for costs (if any) incurred. There will therefore be no administrative costs for CERL.
  • There are no charges for access by the cluster libraries to the HPB Database and, therefore, it is not foreseen that any costs will be incurred.
  • The Single member will be provided with a password and will undertake responsibility for issuing the password to the cluster libraries.
  • The scheme is available only to Single members.
ClusterPlus libraries

Cluster libraries which require institution-wide access to the HPB Database can apply for ClusterPlus status which allows an individual account with access by IP recognition.
The cost is 500 Euros a year.


In detailed discussion it became evident that it is impossible to establish a set of objective criteria for cluster libraries based on size of collections, size of cataloguing projects, size of staff, or size of budget. Even within one region it is often not feasible to compare like with like. Famously, all libraries are different, even more so when considered within the context of the whole of Europe.

Nevertheless, any of these elements may be taken into account. In addition it is possible to draw up a profile of a cluster group:

  • The libraries will operate under the aegis of one Single member.
  • They will have important collections and/or automated files in progress of significance for the HPB Database which in due course may benefit.
  • Since the Consortium’s aim is to make the database as comprehensive as possible, it hopes to include any files created in the cluster libraries.
  • They will have in common either a local or regional or national location, or specialist subject matter (e.g. medicine, architecture).
  • The criterion 'small' is in many cases not appropriate. The notion may be useful that in spite of a distinct identity they operate within a larger library structure in which the Single member has a leading role.
  • It is not feasible to expect that they will be able to become a Single member, a Special member or a partner in a Group membership.

Decision to approve

Since it is clearly not possible to formulate a set of absolute criteria, it follows that each proposal will have to be judged on its individual merits.

The CERL Board of Directors is the governing body in control of membership. The decision to accept a proposal made by a Single member will therefore be made at the discretion of the Board of Directors. A standard period is however agreed as the term after which the arrangement should be reviewed.


  • Proposals for cluster membership should be submitted by a Single member, in the form of a list of institutions, accompanied by an explanation of the structure in which the cluster operates and the Single member’s link or association with the cluster libraries. The Secretary will provide a questionnaire to the Single member making the proposal in order to obtain information about each of the proposed cluster libraries.
  • The Single member will undertake to be accountable to CERL for the proper use of the passwords issued to the cluster libraries which it has identified in its submission for cluster membership.
  • Submissions from Single members should be sent to Dr David Shaw, Secretary of CERL, who will ensure that they are forwarded to the Directors for decision.
  • The Directors may seek further information before making their decision.
  • When all Directors are satisfied that they are fully informed, they will make their decision by a majority vote.
  • In case of a favourable decision the Single member will be notified by the Secretary, and the Executive Manager will arrange passwords for access.
  • Should the Directors decide not to accept a submission, an explanation of the reasons for the decision will be provided to the Single member.
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 membership/access_for_cluster_libraries.txt · Last modified: 2014/09/02 17:24 by hart



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