Montreal, July 15, 2003 — The Sub-Committee on Libraries of the CREPUQ (Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities) is happy to announce it has recently concluded an agreement with Fretwell-Downing Inc. to acquire a licence for the joint exploitation of the ZPortal/VDX software, FD's interlibrary loan and document delivery product.
CREPUQ is a private association of all universities in Quebec. As such, it comprises 18 higher education institutions, 10 of which are part of the Université du Québec network. The CREPUQ library consortium serves a population that exceeds 160 000 students, faculty and researchers. Over 60 libraries belonging to these institutions are scattered throughout the Quebec territory in at least a dozen cities. All of them provide both borrowing and lending services.
Quebec university libraries have long since established a tradition of collaboration based on resource sharing and interlibrary loan. Collectively, they handle around 250 000 ILL requests a year, borrowing and lending, of which a little less than 50% are exchanged among themselves. They receive a significant number of requests from smaller libraries in Quebec, hospitals, schools, government, public or special libraries. Besides, an important share of their ILL transactions involves Canadian university or government libraries outside Quebec, CISTI and the National Library of Canada.
Quebec university libraries were pioneers in the implementation of ISO-protocol compliant ILL management systems: since the early or mid-1990s, they have used either the AVISO software, from A-G Canada, or PEB-U.Q., developed by the Université du Québec. Both these products evolved in the late '80s from the National Library of Canada effort that gave birth to version 1 of the ISO ILL protocol. For the last few years, however, CREPUQ had been looking for a replacement solution to these DOS-based applications that could not communicate with more recent systems complying with version 2 of the ISO protocol and the IPIG profile.
Acquisition of the VDX system has been the result of a long and fairly elaborate selection process. This product was finally chosen over half a dozen other commercial products, mainly because it was considered the best suited to the Canadian open ILL environment, which over the years has relied more on peer-to-peer interaction than access to central utilities. The LIDDAS experience in Australia and, just next door, the OCUL (Ontario Council of University Libraries) RACER project were in that sense particularly inspiring. It was also felt that FDI was especially open and competent in the application of the multiple standards that support communication between different multi-component systems: CREPUQ libraries have implemented a variety of OPACs and library systems, both commercial and in-house.
Implementation of VDX poses a special challenge to the CREPUQ because 15 institutions have a French-speaking clientele while the remaining 3 work in English. FDI has agreed to install 2 instances of the software, thus allowing everyone to work in their preferred language. 'Most users will not be aware that the system has been divided like this. And FDI can help with easing the task of synchronising the configuration of both systems so that reference data only has to be entered once in order to appear in both systems.' – Ed Davidson, VDX Product Manager.
Ms. Louise Thibaudeau, Head Librarian at the École de technologie supérieure and President of the CREPUQ Sub-Committee on Libraries, is confident that 'with the ILL protocol being supported by more and more major partners, plus the sophisticated new functions provided by VDX to manage the identification, location and delivery of documents to the end-users, CREPUQ is making an important step towards its goal of developing an academic and research virtual library for Quebec'.