Another development involving consolidation among nonprofit organizations involves the OCLC regional cooperatives. Formally established April 1, 2009, Lyrasis emerged out of a merger between Atlanta-based SOLINET, serving a large number of libraries in the southeastern United States, with PALINET, based in Philadelphia and serving the mid-Atlantic region. The merger culminates a process that formally began in February 2008.
With the ink just dry on the merger of SOLINET and PALINET, a third organization, NELINET, the Southborough-based organization serving six New England states, has also begun a process to merge into Lyrasis. The executive boards of NELINET and Lyrasis endorsed the proposal in April 2009. The membership of the two organizations vote on the proposal June 2-16, and the merger will take effect October 1, 2009 if the membership votes in favor.
The executive leadership of Lyrasis will draw from its constituent organizations. Kate Nevins, former executive director of SOLINET, serves as Chief Executive Officer of Lyrasis. Cathy Wilt, former CEO of PALINET is President of Lyrasis for Innovation and New Program Development. A new Board of Trustees was formed with representation of the predecessor organizations. Just as in the commercial sector, non-profits have to find the optimal organizational structure to support their missions. Joining with like-minded organizations can result in synergies that expand or strengthen their services as well as lower their operational costs.
In the case of the OCLC regional networks, other factors also come into play. The traditional role of these networks has been to broker OCLC’s services and to offer training and support. The regional networks were able to set the pricing for OCLC products based on the costs of providing value-added services.
As of July 1, 2009, OCLC introduced a requirement for national pricing, resulting in a significant reduction in revenue for the networks. Each of the networks offered additional services to their member to diversify their business model, such as training programs, discounted rates for database and electronic resources, or consulting services. The recent changes in OCLC billing mean that the regional networks must derive a higher portion of their income through their other products and services. This change provides at least some role in the need for the regional networks to seek more efficient organizational structures, such as the consolidation seen with SOLINET, PALINET, and NELINET.
Over the years, there has been a gradual reshaping of the landscape of organizations involved in providing OCLC services. The consolidation of three organizations into Lyrasis represents the most recent and dramatic development, but repositothere have been some prior changes. In January 1999 WLN merged with OCLC Pacific to form the OCLC/WLN Pacific Northwest Service Center, now known as OCLC Western. CAPCON, a regional network with members in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, established in 1974, was acquired by OCLC in November 2003, and was renamed to OCLC Eastern in 2008. Within the United States, we currently see a mixture of independent and OCLC-owned organizations to provide billing and other services within their region. RLG, more of a competitor for bibliographic services than an OCLC regional network, merged into OCLC in July 2006. In Europe the incremental acquisition of PICA into OCLC represents a major consolidation of a once independent organization in Europe into OCLC.