Genny Jon of the University of Western Ontario was one of the two 2013 Robert F. Asleson Memorial ALA Conference Grant recipients.
Her essay on Collaboration in Libraries is reproduced here:
Collaboration in Libraries
Collaboration is becoming more and more necessary as libraries need to stretch their resources to meet changing needs. Fortunately, collaboration is easier in the age of increased connectivity, leading to improved library models.
In Ontario, libraries have been collaborating in consortia to deliver services to their patrons. Two main public library consortia exist in Ontario. Public library systems located in central Ontario have formed the Ontario Library Consortium (OLC). The Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS) was mandated by the Ontario government to provide library services to the people of Ontario at a sustainable cost. These consortia provide member libraries services such as interlibrary loans, pooled collections, aggregate purchasing agreements, pooled e-resources and e-collections, technical support, and the opportunity to network with other member libraries. The Southern Ontario Library Service also offers AskON virtual reference, training opportunities and consulting services to member libraries.
Outside of these consortia, library systems have collaborated on smaller projects such as regional resource sharing. Academic libraries have also taken advantage of consortia. The Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) is a consortium of Ontario’s 21 university libraries. OCUL delivers services such as Scholars Portal. Scholars Portal is a shared technology infrastructure and set of shared services and electronic collections for member libraries. Scholars Portal services include preservation which comprises a trusted digital repository and an agreement to preserve the last copy among OCUL libraries, interlibrary loan and a virtual chat reference service. Electronic offerings include bibliographic tools such as RefWorks, digital content such as journals, books, statistics and microdata, and geospatial data.
Beyond Scholars Portal, OCUL member libraries collaborate in committees and groups to collect, preserve and ensure access to OCUL’s scholarly collection. Ontario’s publicly funded colleges of Applied Arts and Technology also participate in a library consortium, the Ontario Colleges Library Service (OCLS). OCLS is funded by a grant from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and is mandated to provide three Core Services for the benefit of all 24 Ontario college libraries. OCLS’ Core Services are a union catalogue, negotiation and management of vendor agreements, and research as recommended by the Heads of Libraries and Learning Resources. OCLS’ opt-in Services, operated on a cost-recovery model, include Video-on-Demand, Federated search, Remote authentication service, a centrally hosted ILS, professional services, and AskON Virtual Reference. Some special libraries in Ontario are also members of consortia.
The Ontario Courthouse Library System is centrally managed by LibraryCo Inc. in accordance with the objectives, policies and principles established and approved by the Law Society of Upper Canada, in consultation with the County and District Law Presidents’ Association and the Toronto Lawyers’ Association.
Health libraries are also part of consortia. The Consortium of Ontario Academic Health Libraries (COAHL) is a cooperative effort of Ontario’s medical school libraries which has undertaken initiatives such as consortial licensing for a core collection of online information resources, providing access to Ontario Learning Resources for Nursing, a suite of evidence-based electronic nursing resources, teaching information literacy skills to specific groups in each member library’s communities, and supporting the Ontario Hospital Association’s eHealth Library Initiative, a proposed suite of core, province-wide, e-health information resources provided to all health practitioners and to hospitals located in Ontario. The Northern Ontario Health Libraries Consortium is a smaller grouping of health libraries that have reciprocal agreements in place to provide medical school students with access to book loans and documents.
Read more from Genny Jon and other Winning Essays.