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LEXINGTON, Ky. — The three largest research university libraries in Kentucky and Tennessee have agreed to make interlibrary book loans easier for students and faculty of the institutions.

University representatives announced today the formation of Information Resources for Interinstitutional Sharing (IRIS) to simplify the borrowing process between the partners.

The announcement, which involves six million volumes in the collections of the University of Tennessee, the University of Kentucky, and Vanderbilt University, was made during the dedication of the William T. Young Library at UK.

Paul Gherman, Vanderbilt University librarian, said IRIS will foster cooperation in collection development and access by the three institutions.

“Faculty and students can search simultaneously the catalogs of all three libraries and receive requested material through expedited interlibrary loan,” Gherman said. “By fall, users will be able to directly request books via their local library system from all three libraries without contacting their interlibary loan office.”

Paula Kaufman, dean of libraries at UT-Knoxville, said each library’s collection brings strengths that make the IRIS collection an important resource for scholars.

UT-Knoxville has strong holdings in English and American literature, materials science and civil engineering; UK, in Southern history, architecture, and agriculture; and Vanderbilt, in Latin American studies, education and religion, Kaufman said.

IRIS will maximize dollars spent on information by the three institutions through cooperative license agreements for databases. The institutions also plan joint purchases of expensive but infrequently used materials, while cooperating to archive and preserve little-used books and journals.

Paul Willis, UK librarian, said IRIS will significantly increase the university’s access to books at UT-Knoxville and Vanderbilt.

“No one library can hope to meet the information needs of its students and faculty,” Willis said. “Joining with our two strongest neighbors assures us of rich information resources into the future.”

Contact: Paula Kaufman (423-974-4127)