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LCQ 11: University library network


Following is a question by Ir Dr the Hon Ho Chung-tai and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Professor Arthur K C Li, in the Legislative Council today (February 18):


It has been reported that the University of Hong Kong, the City University of Hong Kong and Lingnan University are joining hands to establish a library link network with a view to saving resources and facilitating the borrowing of books by students. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:

(a) the average amount of expenditure on ordering books and periodicals by institutions of higher education funded by the University Grants Committee in the past year;

(b) the total estimated amount of savings that can be achieved by the universities under the above scheme; and

(c) if the scheme will be extended to other universities; if so, of the details?


Madam President,

(a) The University Grants Committee (UGC) provides recurrent funding to the UGC-funded institutions mainly in the form of block grants. Institutions are free to determine the amount of funds to be used for individual aspects such as ordering books and periodicals. In 2002/03, the eight UGC-funded institutions are spending around a total of $283 million on ordering books and periodicals.

(b) The pilot library network project named "Hong Kong Academic Library Link" (HKALL) was initiated by the three universities (i.e. City University of Hong Kong, Lingnan University and the University of Hong Kong) in January 2004, allowing patrons at the library of one institution to access books in the libraries of the other two institutions more quickly and conveniently. The pilot project seeks to, inter alia, gather information on the implementation of such a system, in particular regarding the operating costs involved, the mode of operation, benefits and drawbacks, and solutions to the problems encountered.

At the end of the pilot project in October 2004, the institutions will conduct a cost and benefit analysis, and review the outcome of the project. Owing to the need to purchase software and hardware for the network system, and increased costs for book delivery, the institutions do not expect substantial savings in the short run. It requires a longer period of time and more experience to determine whether such a system may bring long-term savings.

(c) As HKALL is a pilot project expected to be completed by October 2004, it will not be expanded to other universities at this moment. Other institutions will consider the review findings at the end of the pilot project, before considering whether to join similar systems in future.

Ends/Wednesday, February 18, 2004


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