The Orbis Cascade Alliance, a consortium of 37 academic libraries in Oregon, Washington, and Oregon are implementing a strategy to share a single automation system. The current arrangement uses individual systems supplemented by resource sharing infrastructure. Alma from Ex Libris was recently selected as the technology environment to be shared among the members.
The Orbis Cascade Alliance represents 37 academic libraries across three states with an aggregated enrollment of 258,000 (see www.orbiscascade.org). Thirty six of the libraries currently operate the Millennium ILS from Innovative Interfaces and one, Eastern Oregon University, uses the open source Evergreen ILS as part of the Sage Library System. The current Orbis Cascade Alliance was formed in 2003 through the merger of the previously separate Orbis and Cascade consortia of academic libraries, which were both established in the 1990s. The libraries hold an aggregate collection of 9 million titles and 28 million items.
The members of the Orbis Cascade Alliance have long held a strategic emphasis on resource sharing. In 1997 the Orbis consortium was one of the early adopters of Innovative's INN-Reach union catalog and interlibrary loan system. Following the merger of Orbis and Cascade, the use of INN-Reach continued into 2008.
In April 2008, the Alliance announced that they would partner with OCLC to implement a resource sharing environment based on OCLC products, including WorldCat.org, WorldCat Navigator (formerly called VDX), WorldCat Resource Sharing, and a circulation gateway to manage transactions with each of the institution's integrated library systems. A union catalog, called Summit (summit.worldcat.org) provides the ability to search WorldCat.org to provide prioritized access to the materials of all the Alliance members as well as the broader holdings of WorldCat.
Taking the strategic approach to resource sharing a significant step forward, the Orbis Cascade Alliance decided in July 2011 to begin exploring the possibility for single automation system to support all of its member libraries. This process resulted in developing a Request for Proposals for a Shared Library Management Service, which was issued on January 2, 2012. Based on responses to the RFP, Innovative Interfaces, Ex Libris, OCLC, and Serials Solutions were invited to give product presentations in April 2012. On April 18, 2012 the field was narrowed to Innovative Interfaces and Ex Libris. At the July 13, 2012 meeting of the Orbis Cascade Alliance, the Council of Library Directors voted unanimously to select Alma as the product to support the consolidated system and enter into contract negotiations with Ex Libris. The Alliance has conducted a transparent process with all major documents made available to a publicly accessible wiki.
This move by the Orbis Cascade Alliance not only counts as an early voice of confidence in Ex Libris's Alma, but also reflects an interest in new automation configurations that enable greater resource sharing capabilities.