OCLC Resource Sharing Breakthroughs Inaugural Conference 2017

On March 14-16, Erika and Terry attended the first inaugural OCLC Resource Sharing Breakthroughs Conference in Virginia Beach.

This was an interesting conference for quite a few reasons. Traditionally the “International ILLiad Conference,” OCLC’s licensing of ILLiad has morphed this conference into the “OCLC Resource Sharing” conference. (This may be the last time that the conference is held in Virginia–it was sold out months in advance.)

Tipasa Tuesday
The atmosphere was electric as OCLC kicked off their conference with a day that focused on their new cloud product Tipasa, a product so new in its development that it may be years before it’s ready for libraries our size. There were some tense moments in the ballroom of over 400 attendees from 43 states, DC, and Canada.

Tipasa is still in its early days, as was evident in the presentation. It’s a multi-year project with many phases. Tipasa is cloud-based and can run from any browser. OCLC is in the early stages of development. They are conducting interviews and site visits; conducting usability testing; and working with early adopters. Currently there are over 1,200 libraries worldwide that use ILLiad, and 62% of these are medium to large academic libraries that have done a lot of customization of ILLiad to take advantage of its ability to unmediate processes, among other things. The time frame for beginning to transition these libraries is 2018, but this may be optimistic. Only 75 libraries have volunteered to be early adopter libraries—these are very small libraries that have done no ILLiad customization and don’t work with other systems. OCLC is still in the early days of Phase 1. OCLC has begun to work with Rapid, upon whom we rely to do our consortial borrowing; however, they have only worked on the non-returnables piece. IDS, another of our significant consortium partners, is somewhere on the horizon but not yet on the roadmap. There are benefits to the new product, such as dual Spanish-English language capability, the ability to embed a chat widget, and the fact that it is mobile friendly. At this point, the system is still entirely mediated, with no routing; metrics are very limited; there are limited notification templates; and there is no NCIP integration. The BLC Resource Sharing COI will most likely be coordinating a letter to OCLC concerning functionality.

Keynote Storytelling
The keynote speaker was Todd Babiak, an inspirational speaker from Canada who spoke about the Story Engine. He talked about the importance of having a story. The use of a master story informs your brand, and to your brain, the story and the brand are the same. He advised us to return to our libraries and begin to investigate our stories. What is our story? What makes our library special? Don’t do focus groups; do individual interviews. Draw examples from patrons and staff about what makes us different. A common theme will emerge: the one problem only we can solve. That’s your story.

Ask Atlas
Ask Atlas was a session that focused on ILLiad processing tips by Atlas staff, including an interesting way to obtain robust ILLiad metrics. There was more news on the OCLC ILL cost calculator by Dennis Massie. We have reached out to him to express interest in early adoption of the calculator and he told us to expect a call soon. There are many issues in having an open calculator, including security, but there is also other sensitive information to consider, such as salaries. He referenced the most recent cost study by Leon and Kress, and we were part of that study.

Harness Your Resources
Erika and Terry presented the poster, “Harness Your Resources: Doing More with Less.” We presented on what we did to streamline and centralize our resource sharing operations and how we use systems like RapidILL and IDS Project to add efficiencies. We heard from many people who were interested in what we did–it’s a hot topic.

Assessment Plans and Interlibrary Loan
This session discussed options for using LibQual survey data in interlibrary loan strategic planning. Recommendations on how to use the data and align it to library and institutional missions were offered and examples given. One such example was using a positive comment such as, “I love the ILL paging service,” and exploring why that service is loved. By conducting additional inquiries, it could be possible to determine how much time a paging service saves faculty and researchers, and that time savings could be measured and translated into cost savings.

Library Information and Resource Sharing: Transforming Services and Collections
This session was presented by the authors of the book, “Library Information and Resource Sharing: Transforming Services and Collections.” Discussion was about connecting various library functions and collaborations to focus on user needs. This included advocating for information sharing in all forms. This could include sharing the expertise of one library’s staff with another library, such as Columbia and Cornell collaborating to share a subject specialist.

What They Teach You at Harvard: Resource Sharing Centralization and Workflow Enhancements
This talk mirrored much of what Erika and Terry presented in their poster session. Leila Smith, Associate Director of Access Services at Harvard Library, reviewed Harvard library’s centralization from 15 sites to 5. This involved consolidating OCLC symbols and absorbing workflows. Taking on more work was necessary because of staff departures and was possible by enhancing their workflows and implementing tools such as RapidILL and IDS Project to reduce mediated processing.

International ILLiad Conference 2016

On March 15, Stan and I joined about 400 ILLiad users from the four corners of the globe as well as Atlas and OCLC staff to attend the International ILLiad conference in Virginia Beach.

The keynote speaker was Mary Sauer-Games, Vice President of Product Management at OCLC.  Her talk was focused on Millennials, who have high expectations for quality and speed.  They expect a response in 10 minutes; to meet this expectation you need to be filling with your own collection if available.  To meet Millennials where they are, libraries should be using social media: ILL could share trending titles and subjects, instructional videos, etc.  Use responsive design.  Check out OCLC’s Geek the Library program. Yet, despite the expectations for rapid turnaround times, Millennials still prefer print to e-books.

In “Writing a Comprehensive ILL Operations Report: Methods, Data, and Results” we heard about looking at and charting your operations across the board: ILL print PDA, ILLiad, consortia comparison, different systems, shipping, staffing (which we do!).  Year to year comparison examples were shown.  It’s important to share your story, to show how and why metrics change (e.g. due to staffing, systems, and policies) and how those factors affect your metrics.  Part of the story is not the story.

“An ILL Practitioner’s Role: Advocating Open Educational Resources” talked about textbooks and ILL.  Textbooks are problematic: hard to get back from patrons; fill rates are low, arrivals delayed; many become non-returns or overdue.  Partner with your campus bookstore, collection development team, acquisitions department, circulation and reserve.  Lots of statistics were shown to back up need for open access.  You can retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute.  Free or low cost to print.  Many are peer-reviewed and high quality.  Different groups doing this were profiled.  ILL staff can get involved by providing metrics, lists of cancelled textbooks with faculty; share metrics with student government groups.  Add OER sources to your catalog.  Reach out to faculty.  Award faculty for reviewing books.  We’re already doing a lot of this.

In her session “Caught by the Copyright!” Gail Perkins Barton of the University of Memphis presented her library’s strategy for reducing copyright costs.  She opened with a discussion of common guidelines and best practices, e.g., including copyright notices on request forms, the “Rule of Two” and “Rule of Five,” etc., and then reviewed the options libraries have to be compliant with copyright guidelines, from denying requests to partnering with document suppliers.  The suppliers covered were “ScienceDirect: Article Choice,” “Copyright Clearance Center – Get it Now,” and “Reprints Desk: Article Galaxy.”  A price comparison revealed that Article Galaxy was the most economical, and that their turnaround time was excellent.  She also showed how these services could be integrated with ILLiad. Another component of this presentation was “Tiered Service” which limits the fees a library is willing to pay according to the patron’s status, e.g., undergraduate vs. graduate vs. faculty. Librarians are also encouraged to take advantage of free resources, previews on publishers’ websites, etc.  We already do a lot of this already.

“Managing Courier and Reciprocal Borrowing Relationships” addressed and provided solutions to the problems that may arise when a library is engaged in multiple consortia. Different fee structures, loan periods, and delivery methods can all conspire to complicate relationships with partner libraries.  (We encounter this with libraries in CT who use both OCLC and the state library system to place requests.)  The presenter, Jen Salvo-Eaton, University of Missouri – Kansas City, demonstrated how ILLiad and the Customization Manager can help manage these relationships, through the use of routing rules and group assignments, customization of templates, etc. She also recommended using statistics to evaluate the quality of service provided by partner libraries – and not anecdotal evidence.  Stats can be especially helpful when considering/justifying leaving or joining a group.

The Atlas Systems update session was informative.  In May ILLiad 8.7 becomes available.  This is a maintenance release and will have many behind the scenes improvements.  8.5 will no longer be supported. Genie Powell also discussed Atlas Systems’ role with ArchiveSpace as a registered service provider, additions to the video training library, and the concierge service.

In “Half the Work: Circulating Lending and Borrowing Requests from ILLiad in Alma Using NCIP,” Northwestern shared their story.  They implemented NCIP in Alma for ILLiad and turned on both borrowing and lending options.  Using Z39.50, you can circulate ILL borrowed loans in Alma; in lending it precludes you from having to check lending items out separately in Alma.  It moves the lending request from a permanent location to the resource sharing library (lending check out item).  Upon return it moves it from the resource sharing library (lending check in item).  The ILLiad addon sends messages to Alma when records are updated via event handlers in ILLiad.  In borrowing, it creates a brief record for the loan and ties it to the patron (borrowing accept item).  Upon return, the system deletes the brief record and disassociates it from the patron (borrowing check in item).  All ILLiad machines must have the addon.  You must disable all Alma notifications.  Lending is easier to deal with than borrowing, which is complex. Despite some frustrating experiences, the presenter said he was glad they went forward with the integration, and proposed the formation of support group for librarians interested in integrating Alma and ILLiad.

We all met to hear about OCLC updates with Katie Birch.  Many libraries have updated their days to fill to 1-2 days, an excellent example in resource sharing commitment.  Multiple address issues have been fixed and mis-shipped errors have greatly decreased.  Outstanding glitches should be fixed shortly.  Lenders can now refund any request that has been set to shipped and charged with IFM; only the full charge can be refunded.  Once the charge or refund has occurred, no further charges or refunds can be actioned on a given request.  Available reports were reviewed.  Questions about symbol consolidation and satellite instances are encouraged and can be submitted to Tony Melvyn.  Remember that your symbol should follow your time to fill commitment: if you share a symbol with an off campus repository, your time to fill should reflect the true time to fill implications.  ILLiad has lots of reports on borrowing and lending, take advantage of them (which we do).  Use (the OCLC Community Center) to make enhancement requests, ask questions, get news and documentation, and order IFLA vouchers.  Also member forums.

Poster presentations were shared at the social.  I presented “Smart CATs: Cancelling Textbook Requests the Smart Way,” which outlined our process for cancelling students’ requests for textbooks ordered for UConn classes.  Staff from Emory and Maryland called it brilliant.  Atlas rather amusingly placed my poster next to one by William Gee of East Carolina University; William was presenting on why obtaining textbooks is a good idea.  We had a lot of laughs about that, I can tell you. It was also an impromptu meeting of the Patrick Carr Fan Club.  Also visiting my poster was my old student worker (and Dave Moroch’s granddaughter) Alyssa Grimshaw, who now works at the Yale Medical Library. In the photo I’m talking with Marie Hansen from Emory.

Erika's Poster


In “ILL by the Numbers: Using Custom Searches and Statistics to Increase the Noticeability of Your ILL Department,” we learned more about searches and reporting.  You should keep metrics and provide reports to keep conversations going, keep you relevant.  Make your data available (which we do).  Examples were shown.  You can customize and share these with library staff who don’t come to you.

Stan gave his presentation, “Stop saying No: Improving Fill Rates and Reducing Lending Denials in Interlibrary Loan,” which, along with the other sessions, is viewable on the Atlas Systems’ training site.  Attendees responded with numerous questions and comments. The photo is below: he had a full house.

Stan's Presentation

In “Unlocking the Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States,” we learned about the latest undertaking of the Code revision, headed by Ohio State University.  It will now be updated every 7 years to keep it current.

Its purpose: to establish principles to facilitate requesting and regulate the exchange of materials.  It only applies to US libraries; international code is dictated by IFLA.  The Code pertains to all library types and sizes and is system-neutral.  The original code is 100 years old this year and began as the Code of Practice in 1916.  Interesting quotes were shared from the original code.

What to do now: make sure your local practice and policies are not in violation of the Code.


  • ILL is for single patron use and not for groups or classes
  • Use secure packaging, no staples, and no labels on books
  • Ship to correct location
  • Pay attention to the redefined due date which eliminates shipping
  • The main intention for interlibrary loan is for when you do not have a local copy, or if your local copy is unavailable: missing, damaged, checked out, etc.
  • ILL with other countries is encouraged
  • Requesting library must specify special requirements, comply with copyright law, be aware of related guidelines (CONTU)
  • Pay promptly for lost materials, request renewals before due dates when possible
  • Generous loan periods are encouraged as well as lending without fees
  • If you do bill, do so promptly
  • Fill all formats
  • Work with those responsible for negotiating licenses to include favorable ILL terms

In “The Request Must Flow: Practical Workflows for Resource Sharing across Multiple Locations,” Binghamton University’s Melissa Perez recounted the library’s challenges with processing ILL requests at different locations on campus.  She emphasized the importance of regular communication between staff, which she facilitates through “Resource Sharing Roundtables” (similar to our RCL DD-ILL summer meetings), and consistency between the locations with regards to policies and workflows.

The conference concluded with its regular “Unconference” session.  Attendees suggested topics which they could then discuss as designated tables.  Stan spent quite a bit of time at the RapidILL table, and shared our experience with the RapidR program.

Ivies Plus Access Services Symposium 2015



Ivies Plus Access Services Symposium 2015

Yale University

Post by Erika McNeil and Stan Huzarewicz

This past Friday, Stan Huzarewicz and Erika McNeil attended the Ivies Plus Access Services Symposium at Yale.  The themes of the symposium included fair use, evolution of staff skills, strategies for dealing with change, and access to collections.  Attendees included staff from: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Stamford, MIT, Dartmouth, Duke, Johns Hopkins, NYU, Chicago, Penn, Emory, and Rutgers, as well as representatives from Atlas Systems.

Susan Gibbons, Yale’s Deputy Provost for Libraries & Scholarly Communication, launched the symposium, and her introduction focused on the concepts of partnerships and collaboration.  She stressed that we need to find more ways to collaborate and create new partnerships, and that we can’t move forward alone.  Yale trustees, she said, support these concepts at Yale; we need to create best practice together, and that doing so for copyright and fair use is critical.

The panel then began on Copyright, Fair Use, and the GSU Decision, led by Kevin Smith (Director of the Office of Copyright and Scholarly Communication at Duke), Peter Hirtle (Senior Policy Advisor to the Cornell University Library and Fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University), and Joan Emmet (Licensing and Copyright Librarian at Yale).  As we know, Georgia State is not finished; decisions have been made, but Kevin Smith stressed that no decision yet has changed Georgia’s daily work practice.  What we know now: fair use does apply to e-reserves, even though it is not considered to be transformative; classroom copying guidelines do not define fair use (10%); you can reuse e-reserve articles each semester under fair use; using an item-by-item approach is more important than ever; and it is critical to search for a digital license.  Consider what your book is, the 10% or one chapter guideline is still probably a good rule of thumb, but it must be flexible; less is recommended if the pedagogical need does not require 10% or if a digital license is available; if the teaching purpose is for more, then this may be okay too.  Flex up, flex down.

In terms of ILL, there isn’t any explicit fair use language, with the exception that in general, ILL cannot be used as a substitution for a subscription.  In terms of explicit permissions of the law, it’s not there.  There are guidelines, like ILL’s common best practice of CONTU, but CONTU is not a law.  In terms of your e-resource licensing, Joan Emmet stressed the allowing of ILL; if ILL restrictions are in a license she receives, she strikes it out.  Her reasoning is that it’s not enforceable by law now, but if it’s restricted in a license, then it becomes so.  It’s critical to look for undue restrictions and to use a database to record these licenses.  Yale provides specific information about their e-resource license restrictions to ILL as well as reserve and is proactive in informing these groups.

At the session Evolution of Access Services Staff and Strategies for Dealing with Change, many commonalities emerged.  Many institutions are dealing with budget cuts and loss of staff (e.g. New Jersey is also under a hiring freeze).  Systems and technologies are changing more quickly than some staff can adapt, but training is key when you can’t hire new staff.  It is essential to keep your job descriptions current.  There was a group motion to create a core competency document.  At Yale, all staff are cross trained for ILL and circulation and share the work.  At Johns Hopkins, it was important to bring staff skills up even if it meant reclassing them.  Yale does peer-based training.  All staff at Cornell went through customer service training.  Rutgers is doing an evaluation to see where training is needed.  MIT did customer service training for all staff as well.

At the session Discovery Tools and Access to Services and Collections, similar issues again arose.  Link resolvers don’t always resolve, what metrics we should keep . . . Johns Hopkins has begun to use Enterprise Authentication: users log in when they access the system, which gives them single-sign on functionality—there is no need to authenticate with every system.  Atlas is working to integrate ILLiad requests into the LMS and has done so at Harvard and at VCU (it works with an ILLiad addon).  (We’re going to investigate this, as Virginia also has Alma.)  Dartmouth is using Stack Map, which lets you see exactly where a book is in the library.  At Harvard, they put a QR code on a door that patrons think provides access to a certain study room—the code brings up a short video on how to get to the correct door.  Chicago is exploring using Google Maps to bring you into their library and to all of the floors.  Chicago is working to eliminate recalls; for every book that a patron recalls, they’re inserting a bookmark directing the patron to ILL next time; Johns Hopkins and Penn echoed this, emphasizing “stop saying no!”

The session on Technology in Libraries addressed libraries’ experiences with circulating technology.  Tom Bruno (Yale) facilitated the session and suggested that, in addition to meeting patrons’ needs, libraries are providing a ‘technology sandbox’ where patrons can learn about new technology.  Libraries are still dealing with basic questions surrounding loan periods, liability for damaged items, shelf life, etc.  Demand for a new technology decreases as patrons acquire the items for themselves, leaving items to gather dust and eventually become obsolete. Technology can quickly become cost prohibitive – can the library find allies in other areas who can share the cost?  The session concluded with the most fundamental question—should the library even own this service?

There were some interesting demos during the lunchtime demonstrations.  At Penn, they have begun 24/7 in earnest, hiring staff to cover the overnight shifts.  These staff receive training in tech support, reserve, shelving, and chat.  All of these services are covered all of the time.  They have found that services are caught up and that patrons are benefiting.  They have on average over a hundred patrons in the building at any hour during the night.  Johns Hopkins now embeds the ILL request link both in the list of search results as well as the item level for patron convenience; one of the biggest benefits was the reduction in recalls.  At MIT, they conducted an initiative to improve customer service.  They wanted to create a unified voice and send a better message.  Each message sent from the library for any service (automated or personal templates) was looked at and rewritten to remove jargon, remove strange strings of numbers, offer actionable alternatives, and to create simple subjects.  It helped show their value and was done concurrent to a mandatory public service training for all staff.  Emory profiled an app that they created with a developer to note seating in the library, including PC stations and music stations; it has helped them evaluate staffing and plan for future needs.

International ILLiad Conference 2015

Each year Atlas Systems sponsors the International ILLiad Conference in Virginia Beach. This year there were close to 400 attendees from six countries, including Egypt, Japan, the UK, Canada, and Singapore.  Representatives from Atlas, OCLC, Reprints, and the Copyright Clearance Center were on hand to meet, present, and converse.  In terms of the work of our unit, there is no better conference to attend; it’s a total immersion into the world of resource sharing and the product that runs it.  Sessions are focused on how to use the system more efficiently, how to deliver better service, and how to better manage to create time and cost savings.  The setting is dynamic and includes conversation both ways.  There is no better venue to raise issues to a larger scale and create change.

Three DD-ILL staff presented posters: Terry Palacios-Baughman presented on how she has transformed her student operation to be much more efficient and self-managing, and Erika McNeil and Stan Huzarewicz presented on serving students with disabilities using ILLiad.  The poster session was over two hours long and we literally had lines of people who wanted to talk with us about what we’re doing.  One comment from someone who talked with Terry: “If there was one thing that made this conference worth going to, it was this.”

The keynote, “Is Your Library Visible?,” was given by Eric Miller, from Zepheira, who is leading efforts to apply advanced Web architecture and linked data principles to help libraries organize disparate materials in order to solve real-world problems.  He recently founded Libhub, an initiative that focuses on raising the visibility of libraries on the Web.

There were many conference sessions to choose from.  Leadership in Resource Sharing focused on using data to demonstrate our impact, exposing gaps, and expanding the kind of information we offer that can be useful to others in an organization.  Attendees of this presentation were interested to learn of our recent experience with Tableau.

Textbooks and ILL related one institution’s experience with moving from “no textbooks” to “any textbook.”  This new service philosophy significantly impacted the way patrons viewed the library, and their process became much less mediated.

There was an update meeting led by OCLC and Atlas Systems that related what’s new in this summer’s ILLiad update.  Exciting to those in resource sharing: an Addon to place British Library requests that includes real time availability, new options in “days to respond,” improvement in the IFM process, and more.  This was followed by an open floor discussion of the upcoming changes and attendees were offered an invaluable opportunity to ask questions and provide comments and feedback before official implementation.

There was a lot of fun to be had in What Would *You* Do?  ILL Best Practices for Worst-Case Scenarios.  From the traditional “my cat ate it,” and “we have bedbugs” to “I left my book on a mountain in Tibet, can I have another copy?” and “they burned the book we mailed back to your country at the border,” everyone had a story.

One session previewed a new ILL cost calculator that is coming soon, building upon a cost study that we participated in several years ago with folks from Kansas and Las Vegas.  We will be an early adopter of the study which will allow us to enter and compare costs in real time.  This project is being led by OCLC Research in collaboration with SHARES partner institutions.  We will be able to enter data yearly, compare our costs with other institutions, track changes, simulate changes we might make in joining a consortium or acquiring a piece of equipment, run reports, and so on.

Bucknell gave a talk ILLiad, GIST, and EBL: How Bucknell University’s PDA + DDA Collection Development Model Gives Patrons What They Want, While Saving the Library Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars a Year.  They cancelled their print approval plan and automatic shipments and moved to a completely patron-driven acquisitions monograph collection development policy.  GIST is free and open source, and merges and streamlines Acquisitions and ILL request workflows using ILLiad, leveraging systems to do more work while reducing the staff time necessary to make informed decisions and process materials.  Originally part of New York’s IDS project, the toolkit is now in use at institutions all over the country, such as Maryland, Michigan, Oregon, Missouri, Texas, Virginia, etc.  Here’s a link to their paper.  More information on GIST can be found here:

GIST Workflow

Let’s Play Nice: Shared Server 101 offered detailed information about the ILLiad Customization Manager settings and provided caution regarding partner site settings in a shared ILLiad environment. The information will be very pertinent in regard to potential changes to UConn Health’s adoption of ILLiad as a satellite to Storrs.

We took advantage of having representatives from Atlas and OCLC to discuss various transitions we’re going through right now, as well as to talk about potential enhancement requests with ILLiad WebCirc.  Also significant to our unit, I met with Yale’s Associate Director for Resource Sharing and Reserves and we came to an agreement of reciprocity.

It was all this and more.  This was my first time to this particular conference, and I’m still having conversations that were begun there.  There’s a world of information and possibility in this gem of a conference.