Collaborative Futures Library Project Description

Collaborative Futures Library Systems Project Description

Excerpted From: OCUL Collaboratives Futures Communications Toolkit. OCUL spotdocs. March 2019.

Collaborative Futures Vision

The OCUL Collaborative Futures (CF) project is the "development of a shared vision of the future of library management systems in Ontario's academic libraries … The vision is defined by the existing of a distributed and shared collaborative approach to print and electronic/digital resource management" building on existing collaborative initiatives. "The keys to achieving the vision include:

  • Implement shared next generation library services platform
  • Collaborate to manage and preserve print resources in a sustainable system
  • Collaborate to effectively use shared systems to manage electronic & print resources."

The CF vision supports numerous benefits and increased collaboration over time, as described in project documents, such as the initial Project Charter (2014), the Phase 1 Business Case, and the Phase 2 Business Plan. These phases have involved extensive communication and consultation throughout the planning phases and formal initiation of the project in 2014.

As of today, fourteen schools have confirmed participation.

Priority Collaboration Outcomes

This collaboration assumes the implementation of a single system that would share a common configuration by default, but would also allow for local differences where necessary. This initiative will allow OCUL members to reap the benefits of collaboration in those areas where it makes most sense to collaborate, while facilitating local differences where necessary. It will also allow for the possibility of collaboration at the outset in some areas while also enabling further collaboration in the future. The priority collaborative outcomes for Collaborative Futures include:

  • Shared record loading (BIB records)
  • Shared records and ERM
  • Shared Discovery
  • Shared Patron Services and Policies
  • Interlibrary Loan or Fulfillment
  • Shared Analytics

These priority collaboration outcomes were developed following consultation with the OCUL community.

Background to the Development of OCUL Collaborative Futures

Libraries in Ontario’s universities are seeking ways to improve their support for faculty and students; to modernize internal workflows with greater streamlining and reduced duplication of effort; to share expertise; to reduce or redirect costs; and to meet their stewardship responsibilities for the province’s valuable print and electronic research collections.

These aims coincide with a challenging financial, technological, and service environment for many libraries:

  • There are a greater number of collections—in print, audiovisual, digital, and other formats—to acquire, manage, and provide access to.
  • The multiple systems for doing so are expensive, hardware-heavy, staff-intensive, rarely interoperable, and, in many cases, at “end of life.”
  • There is a significant transformation happening in scholarly communication, research, and higher education generally. The digital age is resulting in the rapid development of new research methodologies and new means and models of scholarly dissemination. Online learning and technology-enhanced teaching and learning offer new opportunities for the integration of scholarly resources and digital collections. Assisting faculty with research data management and stewardship has emerged as a new priority for many libraries.
  • An added concern is the overall financial well-being of Ontario’s university libraries; universities in Ontario rely heavily on provincial funding, which is the lowest per student in comparison to the other provinces. There is no guarantee that even the current level of financial support from the Ontario government will continue.

At its simplest, Collaborative Futures foresees the selection, procurement, and implementation of a Shared LSP among OCUL members, allowing for improved management and preservation of library collections, streamlined internal operations, improved discovery of and access to these collections, and increased support for the educational and research needs of students and faculty at Ontario’s university libraries. The project builds upon 50 years of successful cooperative work among OCUL member libraries.

However, Collaborative Futures has more far-reaching goals for its participants. Collaborative Futures is based on a radical vision of OCUL libraries focused on users—students, faculty, researchers, staff—in which they experience a large, diverse, Ontario-wide library collection rather than solely the collections at their specific institutions. They move seamlessly between different types of content (electronic and print, books and journals, etc.) using multiple interoperable platforms from anywhere in the world. Users have access to more books and specialized content than ever before, and these resources are incorporated into their research, learning, and teaching.