OhioLINK Update Fall 2007
A globally competitive educational system requires access to the world’s scholarship, research and information. Fifteen years after its inception, the need for OhioLINK is stronger than ever. The information problem OhioLINK was created to solve has both intensified and accelerated. The volume of published research materials—books, journals, videos and audio—has exploded and users increasingly demand instant, electronic access to research. Yet, OhioLINK’s goal remains the same, to provide that access both electronically via the Internet and through the rapid sharing of physical library materials throughout the state. This fall as OhioLINK staff, together with librarians and staff from member libraries, refine our vision and future plans, we pause to remember how the OhioLINK program has changed the way Ohio faculty, staff and students teach, learn and research.
Remember 1992? It was the year the phrase surfing the Internet was coined, the World Wide Web turned one year old, and Mosaic, the first graphical web browser, was not yet in use. It was also the year that the OhioLINK program began operations with six universities and offered the OhioLINK Library Catalog and two research databases statewide.
Since then, OhioLINK has evolved its resource offerings and grown to become the nation’s leading academic library consortium. By the end of 2007 OhioLINK will deliver its 165 millionth document (includes books, articles and digital media) to support learning and research at Ohio’s colleges and universities. This level of achievement demonstrates the value and growth of the program, and would not be possible without ongoing support and cooperation from the 87 participating colleges, universities, and the State Library of Ohio, as well as the Ohio Board of Regents.
In 1992 students and faculty conducted research in a very different manner. The Internet was available and the World Wide Web debuted just one year previously, but there were no graphic–based browsers like Firefox or Internet Explorer, no Google or Yahoo, and no Internet service providers offering home access to the net. Faculty who wanted resources beyond what their campus library provided had to travel to another library or wait weeks for journals and books requested via interlibrary loan. Students had little choice but to use the resources available at their campus library, since interlibrary loan was generally too expensive to be offered to them.
Books & Physical
Beginning in early 1994, the research process began to change as students and faculty were able to request items from other libraries online using the OhioLINK Library Catalog and pick those materials up at their own library just a few days later. More than 65,000 items were delivered in the first year. Since then, a total of 7.1 million library items have been delivered with more than 756,000 items delivered in the last 12 months alone. Today students and faculty have access not just to the 46.1 million books and materials available at member academic libraries, but also to 700,000 items from two Ohio public libraries. Access will continue to grow as more public libraries are added.
Finding scholarly journal articles used to be a much more time-consuming process involving going to the library, consulting a print periodical index, and then finding the appropriate journal on the shelves, if it was available. This process started to get easier in 1995, when OhioLINK began delivering full-text, general interest articles to users via library print stations. One year later OhioLINK began offering databases via the World Wide Web.
OhioLINK took an innovative leap forward in 1998 when the award-winning Electronic Journal Center launched. What began with less than one million articles from two publishers has grown to include more than 7,200 journals and 9.2 million articles from 100+ publishers. Today the EJC is one of the largest, possibly even the largest, collection of electronic journals run by a library consortium. This year OhioLINK users downloaded the 28 millionth article from the EJC without ever visiting the stacks.
OhioLINK began offering electronic books in 2000. Now more than 26,000 e-books are available online, anytime, including encyclopedias, dictionaries and other reference works, literature and poetry collections, scholarly titles, and computer and technology books.
Images, Videos &
OhioLINK plunged into the multimedia realm in 1999 and launched the Digital Media Center which allowed students and faculty to browse and download art images from museums across the country. In 2002, OhioLINK began offering digital educational videos as well. The video collection, which launched with foreign language video clips from the Five Colleges of Ohio Consortium, has grown to include hundreds of educational films and documentaries. Almost 300,000 digital images, videos and sounds are downloaded each year, with more than 250,000 digital videos viewed or downloaded since 2002.
The Economics of
The OhioLINK program has continually demonstrated that by working together and purchasing resources cooperatively, Ohio’s academic libraries can increase their buying power many times over and provide access to more resources for the same, or even less cost. In fact, combining library and OhioLINK funds into statewide action has proven to be the only economically affordable and sustainable way to provide access to the information resources necessary for world-class teaching, learning and research.
In a continuing commitment to improvement, this year OhioLINK upgraded current resources, added three members and launched two new services. OhioLINK upgraded the Electronic Journal Center interface to include more customization and personal storage options and improve performance. The Digital Media Center was also redesigned.
The new Electronic Book Center is similar in concept to the Electronic Journal Center. It allows OhioLINK users to find and utilize e-books from multiple publishers using one common interface. Currently, the Electronic Book Center contains thousands of scholarly and reference e-books from four publishers.
OhioLINK users also gained access to one of the top ten largest theological collections in the United States when the Theological Consortium of Greater Columbus members, Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Pontifical College Josephinum and Trinity Lutheran Seminary, joined OhioLINK.
The highlight of 2007 was the debut of the highly-anticipated Digital Resource Commons (DRC). The DRC will enable OhioLINK members and other Ohio institutions to rapidly publish and access the wealth of research, historic and creative materials produced by Ohio’s scholarly communities.
The Digital Resource Commons eliminates redundant and costly local investments by allowing member institutions to create, use, and manage content which is stored and preserved on OhioLINK servers. Wright State University Libraries is the first institution to add materials to the DRC. Several other OhioLINK members will begin contributing materials to the commons over the next year.
During its 16th year of operation, OhioLINK will continue to focus on how to reinvent the program in response to a changed world and to fully support the University System of Ohio (USO).
The formation of the USO requires OhioLINK to reexamine its directions and objectives. Even with what has been accomplished to date, how can libraries contribute to the major transformation envisioned for the USO?
Fortunately the OhioLINK community began a self-examination process in 2005 and currently has a robust process in motion to propose and review transformative initiatives. OhioLINK has achieved a great deal thanks to great support, but there is even more the program can and will accomplish over the next 15 years.