Purpose & History


The Boston Library Consortium (BLC) leads in creating transformative 21st century member libraries by leveraging a shared platform of information resources, expertise, and trusted relationships. It sustains strategic, cost-effective partnerships to achieve collaboratively what cannot be achieved singularly. Our collaborative resources and services provide a rich and sustainable environment supporting teaching, research, and the creation, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge.


The BLC is committed to the core values of librarianship and to ensuring that these core values guide our decision making, our words, and our actions. The core value statements below provide a framework for the work of the Consortium and are intended to define, inform, and guide our professional practices. These values reflect the history of and ongoing development of the profession. Our core values inform and guide the strategic directions of the organization.  Copies of both are here


Founded in 1970, the BLC today has 19 members, all research and academic libraries. The BLC includes large and small as well as public and private institutions.  And, while clustered around Boston, the BLC member libraries range geographically from Durham, New Hampshire in the North to Kingston, Rhode Island in the South and from the tip of Boston's Columbia Point in the East to Williamstown in Western Massachusetts.  The BLC recently modified its membership to support both Full Members, who are expected to participate fully in resource sharing and make their collections available through reciprocal borrowing to the other Full Member libraries and Affiliate Members.  Both Full and Affiliate Members are encouraged to participate in the full range of services and programs offered by the Communities of Interest.

The BLC is a collaborative partnership providing proactive, innovative, and cost-effective access to shared information resources, services, and expertise that allow its member libraries to best serve the teaching, research and scholarship of their parent institutions.


Collaboration is at the heart of the work of the BLC and key to its mission. While it manifests in many different ways, this collaboration takes two major forms: resource sharing and consortial collecting.


We connect across the member libraries and utilize our scale to the best advantage.  Staff at BLC member libraries participate in a variety of communities and work jointly to develop programming and professional development opportunities.  The Communities of Interest  [COI's] offer diverse opportunities for networking for members and often spawn working groups and initiatives that directly support the goals and objectives of the member libraries. 


The BLC also sees its role as one of championing and advocating for issues of importance to academic and research libraries, raising our collective voice to further our joint mission.  We work with other consortia and partners to providing programming and work through member groups such as the Open Access Funding COI to advocate for more effective models for scholarly communication.

Increasingly we see opportunities for the BLC to act as an incubator for projects and initiatives that further demonstrate the value of the academic and research library in areas such as shared ebook collecting, open access, scholarly communications, research data management, long-term preservation of the scholarly record, etc.

And with all of these, we look to leverage scale whenever possible both as a negotiating tool and as a way to increase the efficiencies of our efforts.


The BLC office is staffed by an Executive Director and Program Officer.  Governance of the consortium is provided by the Board of Directors that includes the dean or director from each BLC member library.  A subset of the Board forms Management Council, which works more directly with the BLC office on business and operational issues.  Academic and research libraries interested in joining the BLC can find detailed information here

Strategic Directions 2019 - 2021

In 2018, the Board of Directors of the BLC, with input from the member libraries, revisited the core functions of the Consortium and outlined major strategic directions for the coming three years, 2019 - 2021.

Reaffirming Our Core Functions:

  • Access: committed to fast and efficient sharing of library collections;
  • Professional Development: committed to an agile response to emerging needs (e.g. webinar series), building new skills and leadership development and to creating a professional community for networking; and
  • Advocacy: committed to addressing key issues that impact BLC members in partnership with other groups who are also strong voices on behalf of libraries ALA, ACRL, ARL, etc.

Strategic Directions:

  1. Resource Sharing – explore an expanded definition of ‘resource’ to include people, functional expertise, distinctive collections and digital assets, as well as further refining the ‘techniques’ of resource sharing to ensure maximum efficiency for users.
  2. Access and Interoperability – continuously improve the ‘One Library’ user experience by removing remaining barriers between BLC member libraries to create a seamless user experience. 
  3. Collaborative Initiatives – explore opportunities for greater collaboration around projects such as digital exhibitions, digitization projects, preservation, and shared repositories.  Shared staff expertise could include licensing, intellectual property and accessibility of online resources and physical facilities. 

In re-affirming the core functions of the BLC, the Board further agreed to expand on the core values of the Consortium.  A copy of the BLC's Core Values as well as the Strategic Directions is available here.