It’s a development I’ve been watching closely over the years, from the initial Mellon planning grant, the creation of the NYARC consortium (which also includes the Met), to the nascent efforts of involving other local public and academic libraries in collaborative efforts. OCLC Research supported this effort by analyzing the holdings of the four NYARC libraries, which provided a further impetus for joint work: when he crunched the numbers, my colleague Brian Lavoie found that 83% of the combined NYARC holdings were held by a single library (find the full report here [pdf]). From this vantage-point, providing better access to the combined holdings of these libraries creates a tremendously enriched resource.
A statistic of this sort (although not directly drawn from our report) also made it into the coverage of the New York Times, again testifying how this kind of evidence is seen as a major motivator:
“What’s interesting is that there is only about a 10 percent overlap in titles between the holdings of the museums,” said Anne L. Poulet, director of the Frick Collection, which runs the Frick Art Reference Library.”
Kudos to all of those involved in launching Arcade! I am looking forward to seeing the collaborative relationship among these New York City libraries deepen further as they continue their quest to better serve their users and reap economies of scale along the way.