Implementing a Discovery Layer in a Consortial Environment

Implementing a Discovery Layer in a Consortial Environment

Mark Christel (The College of Wooster Libraries, USA), Jacob Koehler (The College of Wooster Libraries, USA) and Michael Upfold (The Five Colleges of Ohio, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1821-3.ch023
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A consortium of five liberal arts colleges (Denison, Kenyon, Oberlin, Wooster, and Ohio Wesleyan), decided to investigate discovery tools, established a process for reviewing and selecting a product, and worked through the delicate implementation decisions of a shared resource. Consortial cooperative efforts between libraries have very deep roots in Ohio, where OhioLINK has established an enviable record of success. This effort of The Five Colleges of Ohio marks one of the first forays into consortial discovery layer implementation. Selection criteria for use in a consortial environment and best practices for implementation are included in the chapter. Throughout the selection and implementation process, local preferences and considerations were continually balanced against the needs of the consortium
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Cooperative efforts among libraries in the United States have a long and vibrant history. Melvil Dewey himself authored, “Library Co-operation” in an 1886 issue of Library Journal and the American Library Association included a Co-operation Committee as early as the 1880’s (Kopp, 1998). Indeed, library consortia, “which involve groups of libraries cooperating for mutual benefit, are a natural outgrowth of a spirit of sharing that lies at the foundation of all libraries” (Alberico, 2002, p. 63). In her article, “The History and Development of Academic Library Consortia in the United States: An Overview,” Sharon L. Bostick identifies resource sharing, lending privileges, book purchasing and cataloging, automation of library systems, staff development, and cost savings through group purchasing power as goals of early library cooperative efforts (Bostick, 2001).

Studies looking at more contemporary roles of consortia naturally begin to focus on the impact of new technologies and highlight the importance of a unified search platform. In 2002, Jackson and Preece discuss broad interest in creating portals to unify the myriad online resources available and suggest that consortia might, “serve as a sounding board for new initiatives and may represent a safe haven for experimentation . . .[and] allow libraries to experiment collectively with innovative ways to provide information” (Jackson & Preece, 2002, p.160). The successes of consortia in the 1990’s to purchase content helped create a recognized need for better discovery tools: “More recently, as the corpus of on-line information offered by consortia has grown, now including millions of journal articles available from some consortia, concerns about enabling resource discovery and promoting information literacy have come to the forefront” (Alberico, 2002, p. 64). Nfila and Darko-Ampem, in their overview about consortia from the 1960s through 2000, end their article with a similar conclusion: “Academic libraries are fast shifting from sharing bibliographic information to sharing technology for bibliographic control. This trend is bound to continue” (Nfila & Darko-Ampem, 2002, p.211).

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