RLG/OCLC Reference & Interlibrary Loan Working Group Final Report
November 1, 2002

Jeanne Boyle (co-chair)
Jim Niessen (co-chair)
Mary Belasco
Natalie Borisovets
Tom Frusciano
Judy Gardner
Helen Hoffman
Triveni Kuchi
Jennifer Muller

Charge: The RLG/OCLC Reference and Interlibrary Loan Working Group was charged to compare the functionality and capabilities of reference, interlibrary loan, and other public services available from the Research Libraries Group (RLG) and OCLC Ohio Computing Library Center, Inc. (OCLC). It was understood that any combination of participation or use of services from these utilities was a possible outcome, considering both service and cost. This review was complementary to a similar technical services study.

Executive Summary: The working group concluded that, for each major functional category, the two utilities complement each other. Each utility identifies unique archival and manuscript resources that the other does not. RLG SHARES provides special advantages for interlibrary loan, document delivery, and onsite access to nearby research libraries that we should continue to rely on, while exploring the benefits of OCLC for access to less difficult material. The RLG citation databases are not duplicated elsewhere, and we will find their usefulness greatly enhanced when we acquire resolver software to take advantage of RLG's advanced OpenURL implementation. OCLC is less advanced in its implementation of OpenURL, but we should explore, through a joint subcommittee of the Collection Development Council and Public Services Council, the potential for cross-database searching and linking and cost saving of shifting our subscriptions to an Ovid or OCLC FirstSearch platform for the various reference databases that they make available. Both RLG and OCLC are membership organizations (albeit contrasting in size and organizational culture) with opportunities for paid services, training, and participation. RLG is based in California and recently opened a New York office, and OCLC is based in Ohio and has offices and training facilities in Philadelphia through its PALINET affiliate.

Neither utility is sufficient in itself, thus the working group recommends that the Rutgers University Libraries continue to make use of each of them for the foreseeable future as technologies, services, and our needs evolve.

The working group included members familiar with both RLG and OCLC. Members divided the question areas proposed in the charge and investigated and reported on assigned areas to the entire group. We studied information from the websites of both organizations, prepared questions for and met with representatives from RLG and OCLC, examined the materials the representatives provided, comparatively searched RLIN and WorldCat, and analyzed in- house data.

This report organizes relevant services into the following large categories for purposes of evaluation:

1. Background and Context

The Rutgers University Libraries have maintained access for many years to both the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN) and the OCLC online union catalog. Both databases have been used for reference and interlibrary loan searching. A subscription to WorldCat was recently made available to the university community, joining RLIN on the library catalog Web page.

Rutgers primary commitment has been to participation in RLG, in which membership is held at the university level. Librarians and library staff participate in RLG activities, including RLG strategic planning, SHARES leadership, public services and collections planning, and interlibrary loan software development. The Libraries subscribe to the complete package of RLG citation databases and contribute digital finding aids to Archival Resources. RLIN has been the principal source for bibliographic records, reference verification, and interlibrary loan. The Rutgers law libraries in Camden and Newark rely on the RLG membership for interlibrary loan support, and they reimburse the Libraries for RLIN net borrowing costs. Primary lending partners and privileges have depended upon participation in RLG SHARES. Those partners include a very important relationship with Princeton University, which recently withdrew from participation in the New Jersey statewide network. SHARES membership provides loans of rare and unique materials not otherwise available. As Rutgers moves to becoming a library dedicated to access rather than just ownership, our net borrower position in SHARES has grown.

Because most other libraries in New Jersey participate in OCLC, the state library has given financial support for annual tape loads of Rutgers holdings into OCLC. For many years, however, Rutgers records and holdings in OCLC have been inaccurate and incomplete. This circumstance has meant that lending partnerships could not be developed from among the OCLC research library community. Technical and automated services has recently initiated a project to bring Rutgers holdings in OCLC up to date. Support from the state library will end when development of a statewide virtual catalog is complete.

At the May 2002 Technical Services Council meeting, technical and automated services announced an institutional commitment to maintaining accurate and current holdings in both RLIN and OCLC. Work is currently underway to update our holdings in the OCLC database.

2. Access and Preservation for Library, Archival, and Museum Collections

The working group analyzed the holdings of the RLIN and WorldCat databases for samples of materials requested via RUL-New Brunswick and via RUL-Dana interlibrary loan. Nearly all titles were found in both databases, including serials and books in foreign languages. WorldCat has many more dissertations and theses, and almost all titles found in only one database were in this category. WorldCat had a larger number of holdings for most titles, sometimes by a factor of ten, by virtue of the larger number of participating libraries.

Both RLG and OCLC have been providing information on primary resources through their respective bibliographic catalogs, RLIN and WorldCat. From an academic research library perspective, both union catalogs must be consulted on particular searches for archival, manuscript, audio and visual holdings of RLG and OCLC institutions. These bibliographic records are based on several MARC formats (AMC, sound recordings, visual materials) integrated for public searching and retrieval. With the appearance among cultural heritage institutions of finding aids and other detailed guides to collections of primary sources marked up in the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) or HTML, institutions have provided links to these products through the 856 MARC field. These links appear in the bibliographic records represented in both RLIN and WorldCat. RLG has taken an additional step to join bibliographic data with online finding aids to create Archival Resources. "This database," as described on the RLG website, " provides detailed finding aids for archival collections-the actual collection guides or inventories that reveal where a collection came from, how it is organized, and what it contains. RLG Archival Resources supports full-text searching and display, and some finding aids serve as links to digital images of actual archival material. Bibliographic records from the RLG union catalog for archival collections and items are also integrated into RLG Archival Resources, providing a single point of entry to worldwide archival holdings." The Libraries have prepared 29 digital finding aids for archival materials and five for manuscripts, and most have been harvested from our Dynaweb server and incorporated into Archival Resources. This work is the beginning of a long-term project to provide Rutgers primary resources to the broader scholarly community, and the project needs additional and sustained support.

RLG has been involved with the primary source community since the early 1980s, when archivists and curators developed the AMC format (RLG implemented AMC into RLIN in 1983). Through initiatives proposed by member institutions, it has developed its union database to include holdings of institutions outside of the traditional academic research library that formerly constituted the membership. State archives, museums, national libraries from Europe, and other cultural institutions have joined forces with RLG to engage in projects and activities that promote cultural resources. It was also an early supporter of the Berkeley Finding Aids Project, the precursor to EAD, and hosted the very first training sessions in EAD markup of finding aids. Since then, RLG has moved on to digital preservation issues, metadata standards, and new digital library projects such as the Cultural Materials Initiative "to improve access to primary sources and cultural materials-those rare and often unique works held largely by institutions for education and research such as RLG's members. In the Cultural Materials Initiative, the organization has applied collective experience and capabilities to creating a Web- based, integrated collection of electronic representations of such materials: RLG Cultural Materials." The Libraries have not yet joined the development group working on this initiative, nor have we subscribed to the database. We recommend that we closely monitor the Cultural Materials Initiative with the aim of seeking a place for it in our digital library framework.

OCLC has supported the inclusion of archival, manuscript, sound recordings, visual materials, maps, and other cultural resources in its union catalog since the mid-1980s. Since OCLC libraries represent a cross section of institutions - public libraries, historical societies, as well as major academic research libraries -- there are very unique holdings represented, many of which have links to online finding aids. OCLC has recently ventured into several areas that incorporate primary sources. To support building and managing digital collections, it has developed the OCLC Digital and Preservation Resources. OCLC has established the Digital and Preservation Cooperative, which "provides a central knowledge base for digital activities throughout the information industry." It serves as a clearinghouse for information on grant and other funding resources and on digitization collaborative projects. Through the Cooperative, participants "share knowledge and increase the value of digital collections by combining them with other collections." It promotes best practices,as well as standards and technology white papers to assist with disseminating information and guidance on digitization and preservation trends.

OCLC has also developed tools to digitize and preserve collections. CONTENTdm software creates and preserves special collections, as well as providing access, with the data residing on a local server or an OCLC server (similar to RLG's Cultural Resources). OCLC is also promoting its historic newspaper digitization service that allows libraries to search their microfilm holdings of newspapers from standard web browsers.

The Digital and Preservation Resources Centers digitize newspapers, books, manuscripts, and visual formats and provide high quality preservation microfilming and storage. The Centers add metadata to the digital collection to enable full-text search capabilities. Although, like most large research libraries, we intend at Rutgers to carry out much of our own digitization work, the OCLC centers may provide a useful supplemental service for some routine projects or as a way to expand our capacity as digitization work increases.

Both RLG and OCLC are in the forefront of developing and promoting standards for digital library projects and collections. Two new reports attest to cooperation between the two organizations: A Metadata Framework to Support the Preservation of Digital Objects, available on the OCLC Web site at http://www.oclc.org/research/pmwg/pm_framework.pdf and Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities, which is available at the RLG Web site as http://www.rlg.org/longterm/repositories.pdf. These reports relate to our efforts to understand and use interoperable metadata, and we recommend that we track the work of both organizations in this area.

In our review of RLG and OCLC interlibrary loan services, we have found that Rutgers needs to maintain its affiliation with both organizations in order to provide the fullest range of interlibrary services to our patrons. Although in general RLG and OCLC provide access to equivalent titles in their bibliographic databases, our membership in the SHARES resource sharing group requires participation in RLIN. Yet we still need WorldCat to identify and request certain types of materials, such as dissertations and musical scores, from libraries that do not participate in SHARES. Our commitment to SHARES membership is based upon the benefits of expedient delivery to partners, a prevalent use of Ariel for internet document delivery, and more liberal policies toward lending items not normally available through interlibrary loan such as noncirculating items and special collections materials, as well as onsite access to collections. Although we have started to work toward establishing and strengthening interlending relationships (PALCI, NJ Library Network) that will decrease our dependence on SHARES for borrowing, we do not foresee that participation will change much in the next 5 years as it takes time to form consortia relationships with other institutions.

Both RLG and OCLC are committed to a peer-to-peer, distributed interlibrary loan environment. RLG's ILL Manager, however, is a more fully developed and functional ISO compliant system than OCLC's ILLiad at this time. The interlibrary loan operation at Alexander Library was a beta site for RLG's ILL Manager distributed system software and is currently the main system used for New Brunswick borrowing and all lending. Since RLG will retire RLIN ILL in August 2003, RLG has offered free copies of ILL Manager to all SHARES members with an annual maintenance fee. We anticipate that most SHARES members will switch to this system. As Dana and Robeson will have to switch to a peer-to-peer system for SHARES requesting, we anticipate net savings from using an identical system. Implementing ILL Manager for interlibrary loan operations throughout Rutgers would be less expensive than acquiring and using ILLiad at this time.

ILL Manager Annual Maintenance Fee
   Alexander & LSM   $1,200
   Dana   $ 500
   Robeson   $ 500

Additional cost savings are anticipated from the $12,425 that the Libraries spent in FY2001 on searching and updating records in the RLIN ILL file.

OCLC ILLiad Licensing Fee
   Alexander   $5,000
   LSM   $1,000
   Dana   $2,000
   Robeson   $2,000

For onsite access to collections, we have no good alternative to RLG SHARES membership, which gets Rutgers students, faculty, and staff into Princeton, NYU, and Columbia with just a Rutgers ID card. RLG membership is heavily concentrated in the New York area and includes strong area studies, fine arts, and museum collections that are vital research collections for many Rutgers faculty and grad students.

New York Metro blue cards and yellow cards get you into New York libraries including NYU and Columbia, but the process of obtaining and using the cards is cumbersome. Institutional membership in OCLC's Reciprocal Faculty Borrowing Program enables Rutgers faculty (but not students or other staff) to borrow at many libraries (http://www.oclc.org/about/membership/reciprocalborrowing/), but these don't include Princeton, NYU, or Columbia. VALE doesn't include Princeton. Although Fairleigh Dickinson and Drew Universities are private, some members of the working group reported the general public was not denied access there.

3. Database Functionality and Technical Innovation

The citation databases available from RLG and OCLC are not comparable in scope. RLG offers specialized databases that are made available to scholars through our subscription sponsorship. We believe that it is a 'given' that the suite of citation databases offered by RLG, which are unique and highly specialized, will continue to be offered at Rutgers. OCLC FirstSearch offers a wide range of citation databases comparable to those provided by such commercial vendors as OVID, SilverPlatter, and others. A list of available databases is available on the OCLC website at http://www.oclc.org/firstsearch/databases .

During the deliberations of this working group, we discovered that FirstSearch might offer some alternatives to our current database platforms and selections. For many years, the Libraries have been adding and deleting citation databases mainly on the basis of content. We have been happy with the OVID platform for many of our databases and have purchased new databases via this vendor when possible. It has been suggested that we might be as well served by obtaining our databases from OCLC using the FirstSearch platform. It was well beyond the ability and charge of this committee, however, working in a short time frame, to do a thorough investigation of the costs and implications of obtaining our major databases from a different vendor.

We recommend that a committee be formed to thoroughly investigate the databases we purchase and the platforms on which they are offered. We suggest that members of the committee represent both the Collection Development Council and the Public Services Council so that implications for content, cost, ease of use, bibliographic instruction, etc. are all considered.

The proposed committee should study our current suite of offerings and the FirstSearch suite of databases. We urge that they incorporate into the selection process, both in their study and ongoing, comparative examination of the interface, searching and linking functions, and results presentation offered by various vendors providing the same database. In FirstSearch, for example, three databases can be searched simultaneously; OVID permits up to five. Simultaneous searching of the two anthropology databases offered by RLG may be available within the next year. RLG must negotiate with database compilers to allow this function and would pursue it with others if encouraged by members. Another example is that WorldCat provides an icon indicating when Rutgers is listed as a holding library. Instead of an icon, RLIN lists Rutgers first in holdings drop down boxes in search results and can refine to limit to just Rutgers results. Yet another example is that the limit function requires several more screens in RLIN than it does in WorldCat advanced search.

We would be interested in such features of the proposed search platforms as:

Potentially useful checklists have been utilized by other institutions and are available on the Web. Two are attached in the appendix to this report, and their Web addresses are http://www.bcpl.net/~dcurtis/digital/evalform.html and http://www.lib.uwo.ca/business/databaseevaluationchecklist.html.

OpenURL linking is a newly developed feature that requires us to revisit our database selections. Many electronic resource producers and online journal aggregators are becoming OpenURL compliant, making it quite likely that we will acquire resolver software. We need to review which databases, and at what cost, can provide linking to our electronic holdings via OpenURL resolver software, assuming that the Libraries will obtain this in the near future.

By using OpenURL resolver software we can link from citations to various targets we define. Targets might include full text resources to which we subscribe, interlibrary loan, document delivery services, or IRIS. Lists of OpenURL targets and sources are available from the SFX website at http://www.sfxit.com/targets.html and http://www.sfxit.com/sources-list.html. We have learned that both Eureka and FirstSearch databases, including RLIN and WorldCat, are OpenURL enabled. Tests of RLG citation databases at peer institutions have shown that links to full text become available for more than 70% of the citations in search results, making these specialized databases enormously more useful. Similar test results are not available for FirstSearch databases, but a similar increase in value results.

OCLC is working to extend its OpenURL capabilities. Outbound linking is available for FirstSearch databases to link to full-text sources of databases to which the library already subscribes. Currently, this linking is available for netLibrary, JSTOR, and Infotrieve. Inbound linking to the resources in its own aggregator product Electronic Collections Online (ECO) was anticipated to be available by the end of the 2002. This means that FirstSearch and other OpenURL enabled databases will link to full text made available in ECO. For linking from FirstSearch databases to ECO content, OCLC will use internal resolver software, meaning that a library does not have to purchase its own resolver software if it is content with the suite of databases and full text offered by OCLC. Both RLG and OCLC provide a lot of technical support for OpenURL implementation.

In its investigations the committee should also consider cost. The OCLC representative suggested that databases would always be less costly when purchased directly from the database provider. In some cases, however, OVID has been willing to match the price offered by the provider, permitting us to have the advantages of the OVID platform. From recent discussions, we know, for example, that cost savings can be accrued by purchasing packages made available by Cambridge Scientific Abstracts. We have not determined whether OVID would be willing to match the costs of such a package if they were to become our provider. Databases may also be available less expensively through such cooperative organizations as PALINET and INFOLINK.

4. Training and Participation

OCLC does not offer end-user training, but PALINET would be able to help with the First Search interface and OCLC service questions. A librarian on their staff would be able to give general help with subject databases. PALINET recently moved to a new office in Philadelphia that has improved training facilities. An RLG staff person, sent from headquarters in California, provided Eureka end user instruction sessions on all three Rutgers campuses during the spring semester 2002. With recent opening of a New York office, we can anticipate increased support for our training and other needs from RLG.

Both RLG and OCLC provide participation opportunities by fostering interaction with other institutional members and sponsoring programs. RLG's 163 member institutions are a mix of large academic and research libraries, museums, and special libraries, with a heavy concentration in the New York area but with many throughout North America and in Europe as well. The RLG membership is changing, with major libraries like Northwestern and Dartmouth leaving because they found other consortia adequate for their resource sharing needs, and other libraries, like the University of Chicago, joining. Member institutions get special attention through site visits from trainers, invitations to regional meetings, as well as opportunities to participate in the development of RLG's standards-based initiatives. The governance is by an elected board of directors with nineteen members. Institutional representatives are invited to participate on various committees, and participation by other librarians and staff depends on functional area. Rutgers membership in RLG is held at the university level. OCLC is much larger, with thousands of libraries of all types and sizes in North America, and to a growing but still relatively minor extent abroad. OCLC is governed by elected users' council of sixty members that meets annually and a fifteen-member board of trustees. There is a separate research libraries advisory committee of which our university librarian is a member. OCLC offers frequent teleconferences on topical library issues. OCLC services and fees are generally mediated through regional networks. Rutgers and the rest of New Jersey, with Pennsylvania but not New York, fall within PALINET. Rutgers is a governing member of OCLC.

URL: http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/staff/groups/rlg-oclc_ill/reports/final_report.shtml
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