Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

The Integrated Library System of the 1990s: The OhioLINK Experience

Academic journal article Library Resources & Technical Services

The Integrated Library System of the 1990s: The OhioLINK Experience

Article excerpt

The Integrated Library System of the 1990s: The OhioLINK Experience

In a presentation in 1985, Richard De Gennaro stated that

The standard keynote speech at library

technology conferences begins by describing,

in glowing terms, the wonders of the

new information processing technology

and then exhorts the assembled company

to embrace that technology or be left behind

on the ash heap of the technological

revolution.[1] Visionary articles and futuristic papers on the prospects and promises of library technology have become a standard part of the library literature. Today, automation has become an integral part of the routine operations of many libraries. In this paper, the functional requirements of integrated library systems are examined. Many are currently within reach but not yet commonly available. Particular attention is devoted to the missing elements of library functionality, specifically concerning acquisitions, serials control, circulation, catalog maintenance, collection management, and the online public access catalog (OPAC).

The pace of technological change and innovation is phenomenal. De Gennaro indicates that "what might have been acceptable five years ago is inadequate today, and what looks advanced today will seem primitive in five years. As technology improves and costs go down, we librarians demand additional functions and capabilities and our requirements and expectations always exceed the offerings."[2] The request for proposal (RFP) process for acquiring a system continues to be the primary mechanism for ascertaining the functions available from automated systems. In this paper, eight integrated library systems are described as they existed or were planned in 1989, when the vendors responded to the RFP of the Ohio Library and Information Network (OhioLINK, formerly known as OLIS).

Background - OhioLINK

In 1986, the Ohio Board of Regents formed a Library Study Committee to address the problems of library space to house increased services and burgeoning collections. The board was reacting to a combined funding request from the state-assisted universities in the amount of $120 million for construction and renovation of libraries. The result of this committee's work was the OhioLINK Project, which as currently envisioned will:

1. link university libraries throughout

the state so that they will appear to the

user as a single resource of some nineteen

million volumes.

2. be a gateway to the rapidly expanding

world of information stored in electronic


3. allow patrons to learn the status of

those materials within minutes, with

delivery of material provided by fax or

truck within several days, and

4. have the option of managing the

purchase of new books and journals in

a significantly more efficient manner.[3]

Work began in earnest in 1988 with the establishment of three committees concerned with the views of users, librarians, and systems managers. In turn, five subcommittees were formed to look at the specific functional needs of acquisitions and serials control; catalog creation and maintenance; the online public access catalog; circulation, interlibrary loan (ILL), and document delivery; and collection development and management. OhioLINK's request for information (RFI) was released in February 1989 to more than sixty vendors with the purpose of soliciting information. As a result of information gleaned from this process, the OhioLINK RFP, consisting of more than 3,000 specifications, was released to approximately fifty vendors in August 1989. Eight vendors responded to the RFP by the October 20, 1989, deadline. Innovative Interfaces was selected for contract negotiation in June 1990. Contract signing occurred in May 1991, with system implementation at the first-phase universities beginning in July 1991. …

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