DUBLIN, Ohio, May 3, 2006 -- Two of the world's largest membership-based information organizations have agreed to come together. The combined organization will offer an integrated product and service line, and will give libraries, archives and museums new leverage in developing services, standards and software that will help them support research and disseminate knowledge online.
The RLG Board of Directors and OCLC Board of Trustees have recommended that the two service and research organizations be combined effective July 1, 2006. If approved by RLG member institutions, RLG's online products and services will be integrated with OCLC products and services, and RLG's program initiatives will be brought forward as a new division of OCLC Programs and Research.
A combined organization would provide an opportunity to leverage program strengths, services and innovative research initiatives, and to deliver more value to a greater number of libraries, museums, archives and other research organizations around the globe.
RLG is a nonprofit organization of over 150 research libraries, archives, museums and other cultural memory institutions that designs and delivers innovative information discovery services, organizes collaborative programs, and takes an active role in creating and promoting relevant standards and practices. OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit, membership, library service and research organization whose public purposes of furthering access to the world's information and reducing library costs dominate its plans and activities. OCLC provides computer-based cataloging, reference, resource sharing, eContent, preservation services and research to 54,000 libraries in 109 countries.
"The last few years have instilled in us all an urgent need to find innovative, cost-effective and compelling ways to bring research collections into the heart of the online environment and into the hands of those who can benefit from them," said James Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University, and Chair of the RLG Board of Directors. "It is time that RLG and OCLC take united action if we are to realize our long-held and long-shared mutual goal of providing information to people when and where they need it. New challenges demand new thinking, so after deliberation and careful thought, both RLG and OCLC came to the conclusion that the best way to serve our members' interests was to combine forces."
"The OCLC Board of Trustees and OCLC management believe that it is in the best interests of the library and cultural heritage community in general, and the research library community in particular, for RLG and OCLC to create a united organization that leverages our respective strengths," said Betsy Wilson, Dean of University Libraries, University of Washington, and Chair, OCLC Board of Trustees. "We must work together, so that in the years to come, the people and institutions we serve will point to our alliance as a signal achievement in advancing research, scholarship and education."
RLG's program initiatives would be continued as RLG-Programs, a new division of OCLC Programs and Research that would provide programs to support architecture, standards development and best practices, to name a few.
James Michalko, who currently leads RLG, would serve as Vice President of RLG-Programs Development, working under the leadership of Lorcan Dempsey, Vice President of Research and OCLC Chief Strategist. RLG-Programs would remain a membership-based organization. Its agenda would be shaped by the needs of its members and guided by a dedicated Program Council.
"RLG-Programs will continue RLG's successful tradition of identifying issues and building consensus among research institutions," said Mr. Michalko. "When combined with OCLC's research capacities and robust prototyping capabilities, RLG-Programs will transform collaborative activity for our member institutions. Through RLG-Programs initiatives, staff from member institutions will work together to gain and share competence in the use of new technologies, contribute to the development of new standards, and collectively improve the ability of researchers to find and use the rich collections that members manage on their behalf."
RLG's online products and services would be integrated with OCLC service offerings as appropriate. The potential for increased services and consolidation of costs would result in overall savings. For example, RLIN, the RLG Union Catalog, would be integrated into WorldCat, delivering economies of scale and reach that would benefit members of both RLG and OCLC.
Both organizations are committed to providing seamless, high-quality services and service levels. Any change in RLG service offerings will be announced well in advance.
Approval of the agreement requires the assent of two-thirds of voting RLG member institutions. Voting will conclude in early June. RLG-Programs would maintain an office in Mountain View, California. Staffing decisions will be made in the weeks leading up to the proposed transition.
"We know that the RLG membership shares with the OCLC membership a conviction to deliver access to the world's information," said Jay Jordan, OCLC President and CEO. "Together, we can deliver enhanced solutions that collect, organize, preserve and provide access to information, not just for today, but for future generations."
Founded in 1974, RLG is a nonprofit organization of over 150 research libraries, archives, museums and other cultural memory institutions. RLG designs and delivers innovative information discovery services, organizes collaborative programs and takes an active role in creating and promoting relevant standards and practices. RLIN, the RLG Union Catalog, provides coverage across subjects and material types in almost 400 languages. For more information, visit www.rlg.org.
Founded in 1967 and headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit organization that has provides computer-based cataloging, reference, resource sharing, eContent and preservation services to 54,000 libraries in 109 countries and territories. OCLC and its member libraries worldwide have created and maintain WorldCat, the world's richest online resource for finding library materials. For more information, visit www.oclc.org.