Building the Foundations of Virginia's Virtual Library

By Hurt, Charlene | Information Technology and Libraries, March 1995 | Go to article overview

Building the Foundations of Virginia's Virtual Library


Hurt, Charlene, Information Technology and Libraries


In 1993 the directors of the academic libraries of Virginia proposed a budget initiative designed to radically increase the amount of resource sharing by their libraries by building on their history of cooperation through use of new technological developments. The impetus for the initiative came from the Council of Higher Education of Virginia, and the proposal was developed by a subcommittee of the Library Advisory Committee of SCHEV Funding of $5.2 million for the biennial budget of 1994-96 was approved by the general assembly for "Building the Foundations of the Commonwealth's Virtual Library."

During the two years prior to the budget proposal, Virginia's state-supported academic libraries accomplished several initiatives to improve resource sharing.

Establishment of VALC

The Virginia Academic Library Consortium (VALC) built on the success of a pilot project conducted during 1991-92 in which James Madison University (JMU), the University of Virginia (UVA), and Virginia Tech demonstrated the feasibility of substituting access to materials for ownership when prompt delivery of those materials could be ensured. The VALC agreement consists of a number of specific points to which the academic libraries agreed, including increasing the kinds of materials available through interlibrary loan, using fax and digital technology and alternative package delivery services to speed up loan transactions, adhering to copyright regulations and royalty payments as appropriate, and refraining from levying fees for this service. Most importantly, the VALC libraries agreed "to strive to respond to requests for interlibrary loans from all state-supported academic libraries, including the community colleges, within 24 hours of receipt, and to process the requests within 48 hours of receipt."[1]

Cooperative Collection

Development

During this period the libraries also developed a joint database of their major microform holdings and began sharing lists of journal titles being considered for deletion or addition to their subscription lists. Five of the doctoral institutions jointly purchased the English Poetry FullText Database, a database of the entire corpus of English poetry up to 1900, and agreed to load it onto the computer at the University of Virginia and make it accessible over the Internet.

Purchase of Software

Designed for Resource

Sharing

The three NOTIS institutions (GMU, UVA, and VCU) began the process of purchasing software that would enable them to provide each other's online catalogs - including call number, location, and tatus information - as part of their online information systems and permit user-initiated interlibrary loan. Since then William and Mary and the Virginia Community College System have also become NOTIS sites, and other library systems are developing a similar capability through development of Z39.50 interfaces.

Concurrent with these developments was the establishment of the Virginia Library and Information Network (VLIN) by the Virginia State Library and Archives. All of the academic libraries are participants in that network, and the proposal was designed to build on the network and allow future expansion to other types of libraries through VLIN.

When the opportunity to develop a budget proposal was presented to the Library Advisory Committee, the group had already given considerable thought to what was necessary for any effective expansion of resource-sharing activities. All agreed that effective resource sharing required being able to quickly deliver requested information to faculty and students, regardless of where it was stored. Therefore, they started with an assumption that improved delivery of information was as necessary as providing access to information about each library's holdings. They were also determined that the virtual library should provide increased and equitable access to more information, and that the total resource base of Virginia should be enriched by the purchase decisions made. …

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