Auto-Graphics specializes in library automation and resource sharing technologies, primarily within the public library sector. Its VERSO integrated library system has been implemented in some 500 small to mid-sized public libraries, mostly in the United States. Auto-Graphics has worked to extend the adoption of VERSO beyond the smaller library niche into midsized, multibranch public libraries. The recent selection of VERSO by the LaPorte Country Public Library in Indiana with seven branches serving a population of 65,000 reflects progress in attracting larger libraries.
The company has also developed a consortial interlibrary borrowing system branded as SHAREit that provides mediated or unmediated loan requests for patrons associated with participating libraries. While VERSO has found its niche among smaller libraries, many of the company's resource-sharing implementations serve large consortia, including some statewide initiatives. Its SEARCHit product provides federated search across multiple content targets, which can include licensed electronic databases, library catalogs, or other resources. Auto-Graphics also offers a bibliographic service called MARCit that provide access to 30 million bibliographic records.
Consortial Interlibrary Borrowing Systems
Consortial interlibrary borrowing systems assume that the participating libraries will continue to use their existing integrated library systems for collection management and circulation within their own system. Consortial borrowing supplements the existing ILS to provide an additional service to enable patrons to request items for items not held by their local library.
This model of consortial resource sharing assumes that the libraries will continue to use their existing integrated library systems. An alternative approach accomplishes resource sharing through the implementation of a shared integrated library system. The shared infrastructure approach takes advantage of the requesting and routing functions inherent in the circulation module of most major ILS products.
Consortial interlibrary borrowing systems manage a set of complex processes to enable libraries to share resources among participating institutions. These products include multiple components and work in conjunction with the integrated library systems used by the libraries. A discovery layer, or union catalog, enables patrons to search across the entire body of materials available to them through the consortium. The system also needs to manage a variety of transactions, beginning with the initial request from a patron for an item held by another library, the transmission of the request to the library potentially able to supply the item, messaging to library personnel to pull and the item, track the item in transit, and record its arrival in the home library or designated pick-up location to the patron. Once returned by the patron, another set of transactions manage its transit and receipt by the owning library. A resource sharing application includes the business logic, notice or messaging delivery components, and a complex set of communications interactions.
A Narrow Market Sector
The genre of resource sharing technologies has only a very small number of products available, including:
- SHAREit from Auto-Graphics
- RelaisD2D from Relais International
- INN-Reach from Innovative Interfaces
- WorldShare Interlibrary Loan from OCLC
A widely used resource sharing product, URSA, was discontinued in 2011. Developed by CPS Systems in Australia and acquired by Ameritech Library Systems in 1999, URSA became part of SirsiDynix in 2005.
OCLC provides a variety of resource sharing products and services. Its WorldShare Interlibrary Loan service finds use globally, especially by academic, national, special, and large public libraries. Library organizations that rely on peer-topeer resource sharing among their members will use World- Share Interlibrary Loan to satisfy requests for materials not available internally. In addition to this core service, OCLC has been involved with other resource sharing products. Its Navigator service, for example, is based on the VDX technology acquired wit Fretwell-Downing. While these products continue to see use in existing implementations, OCLC focuses its current attention on developing and promoting products based on its WorldShare and WorldCat platforms.
SHAREit: Resource Sharing for State-wide Initiatives and Consortia
Auto-Graphics has a long track record in providing resource sharing and interlibrary loan technologies. SHAREit can provide a union catalog representing the holdings of the participating libraries through either a virtual catalog based on dynamic Z39.50 searches or a physical catalog that aggregates bibliographic records and holdings. It can also operate in a hybrid model where some participants contribute records to the central union catalog database, and others participate through Z39.50 search.
A number of consortia and state-wide projects rely on SHAREit for resource sharing, including:
- State Library of Kansas, for a statewide resource sharing system. Renewed in December 2014.
- State Library of Pennsylvania, where it supports a service called Access PA, providing a union catalog representing the holdings of over 2,600 public, school, and academic libraries throughout the state. This implementation combines a physical union database and a virtual catalog of more than 100 Z39.50 targets into a hybrid system that also features the company's new CLUSTERit discovery interface. CLUSTERit groups similar items together in result displays even when they come from different sources.
- State Library of Louisiana, providing a union catalog and interlibrary loan for all the public parish libraries in the state.
- Mississippi Library Commission, for a virtual catalog including the public libraries and community colleges in the state.
- Massachusetts Virtual Catalog, proving a virtual union catalog of all the public libraries and most of the public academic libraries. MVC relies on NCIP to interact with the ILS implementations of participating libraries, supporting all of the major products.
- Tennessee State Library and Archives, providing a physical union catalog of all the public libraries in the state. Auto- Graphics has also been selected to provide its VERSO ILS to most of the public libraries in the state, except those serving large urban areas. More than 100 public libraries in Tennessee have implemented VERSO. The company's CILL (Circulation to ILL) module provides an integrated interlibrary loan request capability for those libraries using VERSO.
- Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, for a statewide system including public, academic, school and special libraries; with a hybrid virtual and physical union catalog, using both NCIP and ISO ILL.
- The New Jersey State Library, providing geolocation authentication and federated search access to more than 50 licensed electronic resources using SEARCHit. This scenario illustrates the rising use of Application Programming Interfaces( APIs) to address interoperability among library systems, even in cases that may have been previously addressed by formal standard protocols.
The number of interlibrary loan products is narrow, including INN-Reach from Innovative Interfaces, RelaisD2D from Relais International, and SHAREit from Auto-Graphics.
Interoperability with Integrated Library Systems
These products perform much of their functionality through sending transactions in and out of the integrated library systems used by each of the libraries that participate in the consortium. The ability for a resource sharing system to function depends on the whether the ILS products used within the consortium support the standard protocols, such as SIP2, NCIP, Z39.50, and ISO ILL. Although most of the major ILS products provide some degree of support for the standard protocols, they vary in implementation details. NCIP, for example, defines a number of transactions, which may not all be supported in each implementation. The ability for a resource sharing environment to operate efficiently without manual duplication of transactions depends on mutual support of standard communications protocols.
While formally defined standard protocols continue to play an essential role in the way that library-oriented systems communicate with each other, APIs have gained use as a more modern and flexible mechanism for the exchange of data and services between systems. APIs are especially important as libraries increasingly need to integrate with systems outside of the library and to enable programmers to gain access to data and functionality not directly provided by built-in user interfaces or addressable by standard library protocols.
Auto-Graphics Extends Interoperability of SHAREit
Consortial interlibrary borrowing systems, such as SHAREit, depend on the integrated library systems used by the participating institutions to support standard protocols. These systems use Z39.50 to search a library's collection for virtual union catalog implementations as well as to interrogate the ILS for real-time availability of an item. SIP2 or NCIP protocols support automated requests and other interactions with the circulation module of the ILS needed to track an interlibrary loan request and fulfillment. But as libraries adopt new library services platforms that operate fundamentally differently than the traditional ILS, some of the conventional patterns can become disrupted. For an individual library participating in a broadly shared platform, exposing holdings to external applications may need to be handled differently than with standard library protocols.
In some of the state-wide resource sharing implementations managed by Auto-Graphics, challenges arose in how they would support libraries that had implemented OCLC's WorldShare Management Services. Auto-Graphics found that the way that Z39.50 was implemented for libraries using WMS was not consistent with what was needed to fully support the needs of SHAREit to validate the ability of a library to fulfill a request. The WorldShare Platform offers an API that is available to libraries and their partners. Auto-Graphics, in partnership with IndexData, was able to create a new connector for libraries using WMS that essentially translates requests that would otherwise be sent via Z39.50 into the OCLC WorldCat API. As a result of this work, libraries implementing OCLC's WorldShare Management Services can participate in SHAREit resource sharing to the same extent as those running conventional integrated library systems.
OCLC provided the following statement to clarify how the Z39.50 protocol is implemented for libraries implementing its WorldShare Management Services:
The WorldShare Management Services package does not include a Z39.50 Client, which is traditionally included with a legacy ILS for searching and downloading MARC records. With WorldCat as the WMS database of record, this functionality is unnecessary and redundant. Moreover, a Z39.50 Server is unnecessary for WMS libraries but is available to OCLC Cataloging subscribers (http://www.oclc.org/sup port/services/z3950.en.html). Member libraries can use Z39.50 to search WorldCat and even limit to specific library holdings in WorldCat. All WMS libraries are full cataloging subscribers and can use or have third-party partners use the Z39.50 Cataloging for any purpose.
WorldShare Management Services, WorldCat Discovery (currently in beta for libraries and not yet available to third-party partners), and WorldCat Metadata APIs (http://www.oclc.org/developer/de velop.en.html) are a more robust and the preferred method for Create/Read/Update/Delete access to the WMS Library Services Platform.
This scenario involving SHAREit and OCLC WorldShare Management Services illustrates some of the transitions of technology underway. Some of the new library services platforms depart fundamentally from the ways that functionality is implemented in integrated library systems. How data and functionality are incorporated in a global multi-tenant platform differs from systems designed to be implemented for individual libraries or consortia. These new platforms also emphasize data exchange and extensibility via APIs. In most cases they will also provide support for the established library standards and protocols, but as seen in this example, there may be assumptions in the architecture of the protocols that may not align. The ability to exploit the APIs to implement a set of interactions that would otherwise be handled through a standard protocol reinforces the flexibility of this approach. As these new platforms evolve and proliferate, it will be interesting to see whether APIs might eventually take precedence in other ways over long-established library-specific protocols.
Auto-Graphics Corporate Background
Auto-Graphics is a subsidiary of a publicly held company. Almost all of the other companies in the library technology industry are privately held under the ownership of a private equity firm, families, or individuals. The exceptions is OCLC, a nonprofit organization owned by its membership. Private companies do not have legal requirements to publicly disclose their financial details or business activities. Public companies must file financial statements to the SEC, and nonprofit corporations must file an IRS 990 that includes financial details and that is made available for public inspection.
Auto-Graphics, though a relatively small company, has been in business longer than any of the others in the library technology industry. During this long history the company has seen many transitions. The company was originally founded in 1950 as Cope Typesetting supporting the publishing industry with hot metal typesetting. As times and technologies changed, the company became increasingly involved in using computer technology for typesetting, and eventually in producing online databases. In 1969, the company began doing business as Auto-Graphics, Inc. as it became increasingly involved in library-oriented catalogs and databases.
Auto-Graphics developed products and services through the evolution of media and technology, progressing through print, microfiche, CD-ROM, online databases, and most recently to Web-based systems and services.
A more detailed description of Auto-Graphics was included in the February 2012 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter. Also see Chapter 3 of January 3013 issue of Library Technology Reports, addressing the topic “Resource Sharing in Libraries: Concepts, Products, Technologies, and Trends.”