by Ashlee Clark, Executive Secretary to the State Librarian
As part of our mission, the State Library of Ohio is dedicated to promoting and enabling resource sharing among Ohio libraries so that residents can get the material they need or want. We continue to work to find a solution for the challenges with the current statewide resource sharing system, Ohio Libraries Share: MORE (OLS: MORE). Significant challenges for Ohio library staff include:
- duplicate entry into both the OCLC VDX Interlibrary Loan (ILL) software and the local integrated library system (ILS),
- separate ILL and local circulation request lists, and
- desire for a more inclusive, user-friendly system.
Request for Information
The State Library contracted with RMG Consultants, Inc. in late 2007 to help determine the direction of the next-generation of statewide resource sharing. After conducting focus groups around the state, gathering feedback from the library community, and releasing a needs assessment, RMG and the State Library released a Request for Information (RFI). The RFI sought to determine if there were any solutions available to seamlessly interoperate with disparate integrated library systems, which would replace the manual double-entry of Ohio library staff into both the ILL system and the local ILS.
Vendors responding to the RFI gave presentations on January 17-18, 2008 and also met with the Statewide Resource Sharing (SWRS) Executive Committee. Based on RFI responses, vendor presentations, SWRS Executive Team meetings, and a cost analysis, RMG produced the report, “Plans and Recommendations for Enhanced Statewide Resource Sharing for the State Library of Ohio”.
An expanded group, the SWRS Steering Committee, comprised of public library staff of Ohio consortia, met on March 10, 2008 to discuss the report from RMG. The committee concluded that no product is currently available that would be significantly better than the current OLS: MORE.
However, the committee offered several recommendations to enhance the current OLS: MORE system. These were:
- continue to support the development of NCIP between VDX and SirsiDynix Unicorn by having appropriate members meet with OCLC and SirsiDynix to enhance communication,
- work with OCLC to determine the feasibility of publishing VDX NCIP requirements for Ohio (“Ohio API”),
- clarify with vendors how respective ILL software works with ILS software from the same vendor, and
- continue to monitor the environment.
At the March 18, 2008 statewide videoconference, the library community was given the opportunity to react to the findings of the SWRS Steering Committee during break-out sessions. At the conclusion of the videoconference, the State Library determined it would not issue an RFP at that time but would continue monitoring the environment, explore open source possibilities.
A successful implementation of the NCIP standard would eliminate the need for double-entry and separate request lists in OLS: MORE. The NCIP standard was written without strict requirement to allow for interpretation and for vendors to work together to come up with solutions. However, the converse has happened and vendors can be NCIP compliant even though their interpretation of NCIP does not work with other vendors’ interpretations.
On June 16, 2008, the State Library met with OLS: MORE participants, OCLC, and SirsiDynix in the common pursuit of a successful implementation of NCIP. In July, both OCLC and SirsiDynix installed fixes to problems in their software and CLEVNET and INFOhio continue testing NCIP interoperability.
In September, OCLC and SirsiDynix installed NCIP components in the MnLINK VDX consortium in Minnesota, hopefully bringing NCIP a step closer to full product implementation.
The State Library’s branch, the SEO (Serving Every Ohioan) Library Center, has started testing NCIP communication with OCLC VDX and SirsiDynix Horizon software.
OCLC has published extensive documentation describing their implementation of NCIP within VDX, which could be considered documentation for an Ohio API. This is described in detail at the website http://vdxipedia.fdusa.com/index.php/Main_Page.
Additional details are located at http://vdxipedia.fdusa.com/index.php/Main_Page#NCIP_Interop_Information.
More specifically, VDX conforms to the DCB-3 Application Profile (recently updated) at http://ncip.envisionware.com/application_profiles/application_profiles.html.
Additionally, the specific NCIP message pairs required for conformity to OCLC VDX NCIP interoperation is described in the following 2 documents:
One of the recommendations was to clarify with vendors how respective ILL software works with ILS software from the same vendor. The State Library chose to delay this investigation and instead to see how open source products would develop. As it was becoming clear that open source solutions had the potential to provide an attractive option for the Ohio library community, the research of proprietary products for statewide resource sharing solutions became a secondary priority.
Open Source Software
Despite the best efforts to make NCIP work, the OLS: MORE challenges are still an issue. The State Library is supportive of the current OLS: MORE system and will continue to support and develop the service to 110 Ohio libraries and 2.8 million Ohio library patrons until a successful replacement system is in place. Currently, the State Library is looking into developing open source software that could use NCIP as well as alternate methods of communication between the many different ILS products being used by Ohio libraries today.
In addition to offering an alternative solution for NCIP, there are several advantages to developing open source software for a statewide resource sharing system. Unlike most commercial software, Ohio would have more control over the software development and prioritization of features. Ongoing maintenance of OSS has the potential to be more cost-effective than commercial products. With OSS, code can be openly shared with ILS vendors when working towards interoperability, which could cut down on the development time. We have entered into conversations with several other states about developing an OSS statewide resource sharing system and hope to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) as the outcome of this collaborative effort.
The advantages of OSS also apply to local ILS. Libraries in Ohio have expressed interest to the State Library in OSS ILS. However, many are hesitant to move to a system they believe is missing current functionality of their commercial ILS product. We are currently working to determine desired functionality for such an ILS, as well as offering a pilot program to utilize and evaluate a current OSS ILS.
Changes in the Ohio Libraries Share: MORE program
In October, Nicole Merriman joined the IT staff at the State Library of Ohio as the new project manager for OLS: MORE. Nicole is a graduate of Kent State University's School of Library and Information Science. She has worked in various capacities (cataloging, reference, circulation, interlibrary loan) at several types of libraries (public, academic, special). She has worked for over 13 years at the State Library and most recently held the position of Government Documents Cataloger, prior to joining the IT group.
OLS: MORE also welcomed Andover Public Library as a new participating library.
2008 has been a productive year for statewide resource sharing in Ohio, for both the current OLS: MORE system and the next-generation SWRS solution. The State Library will continue to work on these initiatives to ensure the vision of Ohio’s libraries: that all Ohio residents can obtain print and electronic resources of all Ohio libraries at anytime from anywhere.