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Key Factors for Consortial Success: Realizing a Shared Vision for Interlibrary Loan in a consortium of Canadian Libraries
The purpose of this paper is to identify the factors associated with the successful implementation of a shared interlibrary loan (ILL) system by the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL), a consortium of 20 Ontario universities.
The paper is a descriptive review of the approaches taken in the consortial implementation of OCLC's VDX software. The paper elaborates on the building‐blocks and barriers to success as they were experienced, first by participants in OCUL's centralized implementation activities, and second at the local level by staff at Ryerson University Library, a member institution. Now end users can simultaneously search world‐wide catalogues, submit and track progress of requests, and receive materials rapidly. System functionality includes auto‐mediated interlibrary loans (direct requesting); use of link‐resolver software to transfer citation information from borrowing library catalogues to ILL request forms; and ISO peer‐to‐peer messaging.
Post‐implementation analysis reveals several key factors that contributed to the project's success. These include: planning, leadership, financial support, technical support, cooperation, staff commitment, communication, staff‐and end‐user centered focus, training and evaluation.
This may have broad application for similar complex projects.
The OCUL VDX implementation has achieved the originally expected economies of scale, service performance improvements and reduction in localized maintenance and system support. However, there have also been several unforeseen benefits such as the formulation and standardization of the OCUL ILL policies, and the development of Canada‐wide consortial reciprocal agreements. At the operational level, staff have had to adjust their management styles and develop confidence not only in their individual skills but also in cooperative thinking, reliance on centralized support, and in the overall system. Throughout the project the objectives have been clearly identified, and, for the most part, enthusiastically adopted, by consortium members. Recognizing that ILL is a service that is in transition, staff now look at business transformation and ways to identify, share and adopt best working practices.