In 1984, the Alabama legislature funded the Network of Alabama Academic Libraries (NAAL) to correct deficiencies in graduate-level library resources identified by an assessment of Alabama’s academic libraries. NAAL was charged to coordinate a statewide program to strengthen and share library resources supporting graduate education and research. Since then, the program has evolved from serving its single constituent, academic institutions supporting graduate-level studies, into greatly expanded services to improve library resources for ALL Alabamians. NAAL’s on-going support for the Alabama Virtual Library (link www.avl.lib.al.us) and the emerging AlabamaMosaic (link to www.alabamamosaic.org) digital collections provides leadership for all types of cultural heritage repositories including public, school, and community college libraries, as well as museums and archives. As a result of NAAL’s vision, all Alabamians have access to significant information resources at a level unimaginable in 1984.
From its beginning, NAAL has sought to eliminate political, financial, physical, and technological barriers that prevent students and other users from obtaining needed information. These programs have significantly improved both the quality and quantity of information resources supporting higher education. They include:
contributing holdings information to an online catalog of libraries’ holdings—searchable online to determine what materials are owned in-state (search these library holdings via FirstSearch WorldCat at the Alabama Virtual Library)
sharing library materials among all academic libraries and lending without charge to any student or faculty member in a NAAL institution
delivering requested items quickly to any borrowing library in NAAL. Photocopied items, transmitted electronically, arrive within 24 hours of the request. The majority of physical items such as books are delivered overnight using a commercial package delivery service.
supporting statewide information needs by lending academic library materials to Alabama public libraries without charge
assessing academic library collections to eliminate gaps in acquisitions and achieve a collaborative research-level collection accessible to any Alabama student or researcher,
sharing licensed electronic databases resulting in savings for higher education institutions. NAAL members receive substantial discounts over the cost of an individual license with its database licensing program saving over $2,000,000 each year in database costs for member institutions
developing the concept of a statewide virtual library and fostering the coalition that successfully obtained state funding for the Alabama Virtual Library, a set of core information resources supporting educational and lifelong learning needs for all Alabamians. The success of the Alabama Virtual Library has resulted in its national recognition as a model for other states to emulate
creating AlabamaMosaic, a digital collection of original and unique treasures documenting Alabama history freely accessible on the Internet
sponsoring continuing education activities to update the skills of information professionals
developing an Affiliate Institution Program in FY2000 to extend the benefits of statewide resource sharing to four-year colleges not eligible for NAAL membership
Official Website of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education