8 Association of Research Libraries Research Library Issues 296 2018 Collaboration: Though collaboration is viewed as a familiar concept, it is a term that is often used to refer to activities that are not truly collaborative. Some definitions of collaborate include: to work jointly on an activity or project 2 to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor 3 and from late Latin “collaboratus,” past participle of “collaborare” to labor together, from Latin “com-” + “laborare” to labor.4 In this discussion, collaboration means: “to rely on others to do agreed upon things for or in concert with you and to be relied upon to do agreed upon things for or in concert with others.”5 Identifying what something is not can be an effective way to build understanding. Collaboration is not: letting a purported partner know what you did after you did it basic information sharing that has no measurable impact on the sharer or receiver of the information or simply allowing someone to be present or to observe without providing them with the means to inform and influence what happens as a result of an interaction. The most productive and sustainable collaborations begin with common interests and responsibilities, by defining problem statements together. Being able to rely upon others results from accrued trust based on the perceived reliability of partners. Trust becomes possible when member expectations and roles are defined through iterative discussion and lessons learned, what went well and what might be better next time. It is not possible to achieve success if we do not know what it looks like. Collaborations become sustainable when a critical mass of a community’s members When a new collaboration starts, members bring their individual and often idiosyncratic definitions with them, often unaware that others may understand these terms very differently.
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