New Consortium Will Lay Foundation for Future Collaboration

by Sue Kennedy, Chair, Library Leadership Council

For over a decade, Washington’s community and technical college library deans and directors have been working to implement a shared vision of 21st Century Libraries. The vision statement crafted in 2006: To empower all students with the skills, resources, and services essential to find and use information in a complex and competitive world.

We established goals in three areas: information literacy; digital resources; and access to library collections for students. In the interest of furthering these goals, LMDC approved a statement in 2012 on the adoption of a common integrated library system, which reads in part: Shared services delivered through this partnership will expand opportunities to share resources owned by member libraries, set the stage for cooperative purchasing, bring significant cost and administrative efficiencies, simplify data collection for evidence-based assessment, and improve end-user functionality for students, staff and faculty. A shared ILS will facilitate collaboration among community and technical college staff and faculty.

Since that statement was adopted there has been work toward a statewide option for an ILS. We started a year and a half ago with a day of vendor demonstrations. Our work since that time has resulted in a focused effort. In July 2014 the LLC passed a resolution stating that we are not pursuing a system-wide ILS option outside of a contract addendum with Ex Libris for Alma. Although the work toward Alma is firmly in motion, it became clear that there are two distinct paths of action necessary to reach our vision of 21st century libraries. The ILS is a key part; it also became apparent that forming a new consortium would provide both a philosophical and operational basis for statewide collaboration.

At the LLC summer retreat, we began work on building the framework for the new consortium. We invite your input on the structure (what will eventually become bylaws). A great opportunity for that will be at the CLAMS Conference on October 17th at Green River’s Kent campus. The function of the consortium bylaws will be to establish the purpose, scope, and functional components of the consortium. In driving these efforts, the LLC identified the overarching purpose of the consortium in these well-crafted words: To work cooperatively to achieve common goals, greater efficiencies, and enhanced access to evolving content, services and technology.

The work of the consortium does not revolve solely around shared technology systems. Indeed, the consortium will be an integrated part of LLC, irrespective of the use of Alma. All of the libraries in Washington’s community and technical college system will be part of the consortium. With that said, there are two very important points about this new consortium: 1) It will be the vehicle by which future collaborative efforts will be facilitated, and 2) Flexibility for libraries to take part in collaborative activities is important.

This is exciting work! It has the support of the Instruction Commission and the WACTC technology committee (a committee of the CTC presidents). Together we are building a foundation for a future where we can truly leverage our resources as a system to better serve our students and faculty. The members of the Executive Committees of both LLC and ORCA recognize that a shift to a system perspective will take time, but we have a solid start and strong cohort of early adopters. The new consortium mobilizes our capacity to turn a vision for 21st century libraries into reality.

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