The Hellenic Academic Libraries Link (HEAL-Link) was established in 1998. It began as a project funded by the Ministry of Education (with part EU funding) as a horizontal action aiming to promote co-operation within the academic library community in Greece. One of the action lines was to study possible co-operation between the academic institutions to face the problem of the ever-increasing cost of subscriptions to print journals. Until then, the academic libraries dealt with this problem by cancelling more and more subscriptions every year.
A study undertaken in 1999 in three disciplines (physics, chemistry and computer science) in five universities proved that the journal collections of the corresponding departments were so limited that they could not support most of the research areas or the graduate study programmes of those departments. With a very limited national journals collection, academic libraries depended heavily on interlibrary loans from abroad, mainly from the British Library, with a high cost which they passed directly to the users. Thus, most researchers who could not themselves finance their need for journal articles were dependent mainly on requesting them from colleagues abroad. It goes without saying that most Greek academic libraries, in their effort to sustain their journals budgets, had hardly any subscriptions to bibliographic databases.
As a result the aim to co-operate in print journals collections was abandoned and replaced by the effort to co-operate in common access to electronic journals. In 1999 HEAL-Link signed a three-year licence agreement with five major publishers for access to all their journals, as well as a small number of bibliographic databases. For the first three years the academic libraries were obliged to keep their print subscriptions with the above-mentioned publishers, while HEALLink covered the access fees. Thus all members of HEAL-Link had access to 3500 full-text journals and to 12 bibliographic databases, which was a vast improvement over the previous situation.
In 2002, at the end of the three-year period, the eight institutions having the vast majority of the print subscriptions could no longer sustain the cost of the subscriptions to the five publishers, and HEAL-Link had no more funds from the horizontal action to support the access fees.