In the News

Funderburg Library

Funderburg and PALNI celebrate 30 years of excellence

Darla Haines represents Manchester and is secretary of the PALNI board

Manchester University’s Funderburg Library, a founding institution of the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI), is proudly celebrating the consortium’s 30th anniversary in 2022.

Since its first library-to-library collaboration in the 1980s, PALNI has worked to advance the educational missions of its supported institutions by sharing resources and leveraging expertise. The consortium was approved as a nonprofit organization in 1992 and has grown to support 24 private colleges, universities and seminaries—serving more than 47,500 students and faculty throughout the state.

“PALNI is a trailblazer in collaboration at scale,” says Kirsten Leonard, PALNI executive director. “We are proud to be an organization that consortia worldwide turn to for guidance in leveraging the staff expertise within their supported institutions’ libraries to improve services to students, reduce duplication of efforts, and affordably provide a positive impact to the institutional mission that rivals larger research libraries.”

During its first three decades, PALNI has navigated the evolving challenges of higher education to attain notable success. What began as a joint initiative among libraries to make automation more affordable has transformed into a leading example of what it takes for academic libraries to work together and achieve more at scale.

All supported institutions appoint a library dean or director to serve on PALNI’s board of directors, providing strategic and financial direction. Darla Haines, library director, represents Manchester University and serves as secretary on the PALNI board. 

Celebrating success

Some of PALNI’s recent accomplishments include:

  • The PALSave: PALNI Affordable Learning Program, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., is on track to save Indiana college students $2.1 million by creating and adopting Open Educational Resources.
  • The launch of a planning project in open bibliographic data management, made possible by a $225,000 American Rescue Plan Act grant.
  • The Library Innovation Grant provides up to $20,000 for individual library initiatives that align with PALNI strategic priorities and support deep collaboration.
  • Leadership and professional development support for library deans, directors and staff has allowed individuals to participate in programs such as the competitive Harvard Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians. 
  • A partnership with PALCI—or the Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration & Innovation—to pilot the Hyku Institutional Repository software.
  • Leveraging external partnerships with other consortia and organizations to explore open sources and open access initiatives, uphold libraries’ metadata rights, strive for deeper collaboration, and much more.

    “Deep collaboration among PALNI librarians is a result of deep trust which has developed over the years. Our common commitment to offering the best possible services to our campuses has given us the drive to look for new ways to work together,” says Tonya Fawcett, director of library services at Grace College and Theological Seminary and PALNI board chair. “So much of what we do is behind the scenes of the library front desk or website. But that is where we put in the work to provide our students and faculty the resources to learn and succeed in their fields of study.”

    Leader in deep collaboration

    Across higher education, revenue is being squeezed while costs rise and the number of high school graduates declines. These challenges have required a significant shift in strategy for institutions around the idea of collaboration and partnership to strengthen their campuses in the years ahead. Many colleges and universities are looking to consortia like PALNI, which has been effectively pooling resources and expertise since its inception, as a model for the future. 

    “Over the years, PALNI has grown and changed in response to supported organizations’ library needs,” says Karl Stutzman, director of library services at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and PALNI board member. “On their own, libraries at relatively small schools lack the financial and human resources to deliver the services required to attract and retain students at their institutions. But together, PALNI libraries find that it’s not only possible to deliver these services, but it’s also something we can do with excellence.”

    Looking toward the future

    Academic libraries are not static organizations; they have historically been among the first to respond to changes in their institutions and higher education, despite diminishing budgetary and staff support. PALNI’s strengths lie in its community of experts’ ability to innovate and adapt to meet students’ needs, especially during times of uncertainty, and to share that work across their campuses.

    “Without our PALNI colleagues, we could not offer the services our students, faculty, and administration have come to expect from our libraries,” says Fawcett. “PALNI’s joint effort to create a digital repository has expanded our reach to the other side of the globe as we have made our dissertations and theses discoverable and accessible online. Additionally, the amount and scope of the libraries’ resources have expanded exponentially. We are able to focus on our local collection specialties while simultaneously offering a wider range of academic resources from PALNI libraries, which can be delivered quickly and efficiently.”

    Under the guidance of its Strategic Framework 2020-2023, PALNI strives to enhance the teaching and learning missions of its supported institutions through five areas of focus: 
  • affordability
  • student success 
  • strategic services
  • expertise and collaboration
  • engagement and promotion

    This framework is a dynamic planning tool that allows PALNI to evaluate needs and set priorities, adjusting action plans to optimize the consortium’s time, resources and expertise. Simultaneously, PALNI is expanding collaboration within its institutions and with external library partners to address challenges and build cost-effective services well into the future. 

    For information about PALNI, its supported institutions, and initiatives, visit the consortium online

    All information supplied by PALNI.

    December 2022