The Harrington Library Consortium is one of the most unique, innovative, and futuristic projects in the library world. Realizing the need to cooperate and share resources, in 1977 the directors of Amarillo College, Amarillo Public Library, and West Texas State University Cornette Library began to discuss ways this need could be fulfilled. Through informal discussions, these directors realized their individual institutions shared a common purpose: to serve the people of the Texas Panhandle. Their discussions then expanded to include not only cooperation and resource sharing among their libraries but also ways these concepts could be extended into the entire Panhandle.
In the late 1970’s, when these libraries first began meeting, the world was moving into the information age. Realizing that each library would have to automate in order to remain a viable force in the coming age, this group applied for and was granted a Title III (Library Service and Construction) Grant to convert their cataloging information into computer-readable form. Focusing on the goals of automating various library routines, opening their collections to each other’s users and sharing resources through a common computerized system, the group applied to the Amarillo-based Don and Sybil Harrington Foundation for a grant of $1.5 million. Upon approval of their grant application, the group was joined by the Amarillo branch of the Texas Tech University School of Health Sciences. They then formally allied themselves into the Harrington Library Consortium. The uniqueness of the project lies in the fact that a state university, a community college, a large municipality, and a medical school combined in a joint effort of such magnitude.Once the holdings of the three original libraries where entered into a common database accessible by all library patrons, the library directors began to explore ways these resources could be shared throughout the Panhandle.
The innovative feature of the project is that the resources of the Consortium are being made available to the diverse libraries of the area through a shared database.