It's an unfortunate reality that no library today has the funding to acquire all the resources needed to satisfy the research needs and interests of its users. Even the most well-funded libraries must make difficult choices regarding the print and electronic resources they are able to acquire. The limitation of library budgets and the constant increases in pricing result in incredible pressure on the development of collections.
Libraries naturally supplement their direct collections with additional services where they can obtain materials from external sources when needed by their patrons. Interlibrary loan, document delivery, and other resource sharing services. When not available locally, libraries aim to provide requested materials in the fastest, most efficient, and least costly way possible.
The genre of resource sharing products and services has had an interesting history. OCLC's Interlibrary loan service, currently branded as WorldShare ILL, has been the mainstay of this arena but is perceived as a powerful but costly option. OCLC has consolidated its position in the resource sharing arena through its 2017 acquisition of Relais International and through the development of Tipasa as a migration path for the almost ubiquitous ILLiad software for managing ILL operations. SHAREit from Auto-Graphics is likewise a longstanding and successful interlibrary loan system, mostly oriented to public libraries and is the basis for many statewide initiatives. INN-Reach from Innovative Interfaces was initially developed as a resource sharing brokering system for consortia where each member uses its Millennium ILS, but it has since been enhanced to support other ILS products. Ex Libris has become a major player in the resource sharing arena through consortial implementations of its Alma library services platform with built-in capabilities. FulfILLment, an open source interlibrary loan software, developed by Equinox, languished for many years but has recently been implemented by the Connecticut State Library for its interlibrary loan service. Other products have come and gone. The URSA interlibrary loan service developed in Australia in the 1970's became established as the leading resource sharing system but saw its demise in 2011 when it was discontinued by SirsiDynix.
Dramatic events can spark the need for urgent resource sharing arrangements. Catastrophic events such as a flood, as seen at Colorado State University, or large-scale cancellations of journal subscriptions can trigger exceptional responses in the library community. It is important for there to be scalable and affordable services to bridge the volatile gap between the materials that libraries own or license and those needed by their constituents. Libraries are increasingly interested in providing transparent services that fulfill materials needed by their users regardless of whether it is directly owned or acquired through an external partner or service.
This issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter features a new set of events in the resource sharing arena. Ex Libris has acquired the popular RapidILL service from Colorado State University (CSU) and is developing a new resource sharing application based on its Alma library services platform. These two moves represent an ambitious new strategy to yet again expand its reach into academic libraries.