A new agreement between Northern Arizona University and Coconino Community College is being touted as a groundbreaking model for improving library services to community college students while leveraging resources between two institutions of higher learning.

NAU President John Haeger and CCC President Leah Bornstein brainstormed the partnership as a way to help CCC supplement its plans to scale back its library services due to tightening budgets in Arizona higher education.

“This was an opportunity to think outside the box and consider how enhancing the college’s partnership with NAU could work to everyone’s advantage,” Bornstein said.

The result is an innovative alliance that begins July 1, in which all CCC students and faculty will have the opportunity to take advantage of NAU Cline Library’s increased hours, assistance and information resources. CCC students and faculty also will have remote access to databases, interlibrary loans and document delivery services from Cline Library.

As part of the agreement, CCC will compensate NAU based on usage which will be tracked when CCC students use the library.

“Giving CCC students access to Cline Library is a smart way to share resources,” Haeger explained, adding that he and Bornstein are exploring other ways to leverage the two institutions’ purchasing power, such as through licensing of library databases. “This kind of partnership between a research university and a multi-campus community college is groundbreaking.”

An added incentive of the partnership is in the opportunity for Cline Library staff to better understand community college students’ needs and how NAU can better meet those needs, bringing those students one step closer to an NAU degree.

“We hope that helping them become successful community college students will spark their interest in transferring to NAU for their bachelor’s degree,” said Beth Schuck, associate university librarian for Cline Library.

Though it is unclear how many and how often CCC students and faculty will use NAU’s library resources, both schools are excited about the potential impact the partnership could have on student success.

“The library merger will expand CCC’s research, study and learning opportunities for faculty and students,” Bornstein said. “It also gives CCC and NAU a deeper, broader relationship and illustrates that both institutions are willing to leverage resources as good stewards of public funds.”

Haeger added that the partnership could have far-reaching significance. “With higher education budgets continuing to be squeezed, this has the potential to serve as a model for other institutions seeking creative solutions to shrinking budgets,” he said.