The Virtual Library of Virginia
VIVA (The Virtual LIbrary of Virginia) and
American Library Consortia in the New Millennium
by Katherine A. Perry
Presented at the Symposium
"Weaving New Webs: Cooperation for Survival in the New Millennium
(formerly linked to "http://leykada.physics.auth.gr/weaving/defaulte.htm", link not functional 2/4/2009)"
March 20-21, 2000
I am very pleased to be with you today to speak to you about VIVA, the Virtual Library of Virginia, within the context of American consortia in the new millennium. Let me begin by providing a brief definition of VIVA:
VIVA is the consortium of academic libraries - both public and private -- in Virginia.
Virginia is on the east coast, bordered by the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Maryland and
Washington, D.C. to the north, West Virginia and Kentucky to the west, and Tennessee and North Carolina to the
As you can see from this Encyclopaedia Britannica (1) map, we don't have quite the same physical challenges you have in Greece, but we do have several mountain ranges (the Blue Ridge, the Appalachian, the Shenandoah, and part of the Allegheny Mountains. A few of our members are on a peninsula, which has some of the isolating characteristics of an island.
VIVA's 71 members are located throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and they include all of the 39 state-assisted colleges and universities (at 53 campuses) within the Commonwealth. These include 6 doctoral universities, 9 4-year institutions, and 24 community and two-year branch colleges. We purchase or license all VIVA resources for all of the public institutions on a collective basis, primarily using central funds.
In addition to these public colleges and universities, our consortium includes
32 private (independent, not-for-profit) institutions participating as full members where possible. For our first
5 years, this has meant that the private schools have participated in purchases on an "elective model",
depending upon their local curricular needs and their local budgets. During the current fiscal year, these private
universities have been granted a pool of state funds, so we have negotiated some purchases for them on a "collective
model" and they continue to participate in other contracts on the "elective" model.
VIVA's mission is "to provide, in an equitable, cooperative and cost-effective manner, enhanced access to library and information resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia's academic libraries serving the higher education community." Knowing our mission has helped us be clear about our priorities and objectives. This doesn't mean that we might not change our mission in the future, but for now, we are focusing on serving Virginia's higher education community.
All consortia develop based upon their own history and context and VIVA is no exception.
There are four basic concepts concerning VIVA's historical context that continue to influence our development:
In the early days of VIVA's creation, I believe there was a fair amount of envy
of the larger, more established consortia. Perhaps a sense that "when we grow up, we will look like the big
kids". I believe that now in our sixth year, there is consensus that our development appropriately reflects
our historical context and our needs.
Because of our history, we believe that we will, for the foreseeable future, continue to have decentralized services. I think this is due to two factors. One is that we simply do not choose to spend our central funds on a large staff. We realize that this makes a difference to us in terms of the type of services we can provide centrally and the heavy reliance upon our working committees, but that is a choice we are comfortable making at this time. Second, we believe that current technology makes it easier to provide decentralized services now than it might have been several years ago. So, both because the technology helps it happen and because our relatively small central staff makes it a necessity, we have developed very decentralized services.
We are a virtual organization, heavily dependent upon our volunteers and committees. But the work gets done and the services are there for our members.
Figure 1 shows our committee structure as it was from 1994 to 1999. In many ways it reflects our thinking, that issues could be handled either entirely by one committee (InterLibrary Loan or Special Collections) or sequentially from one committee to the next (Collections would perform preliminary negotiations with vendors, hand the product to the Technical Issues Committee to solve any technical problems related to implementation of that product in Virginia, and then the User Services Committee would determine appropriate training programs for that product.
Figure 2 shows our new organizational structure as of July 1, 1999. It reflects, I believe, some of our more recent thinking about our services, products, and management. Not only do we no longer see our work as an assembly line in which a committee hands off the product to the next committee, but we see our work as being increasingly interdisciplinary.
In 1993, our state governing board, the State Council of Higher Education, invited a committee of academic librarians to develop a proposal that was successfully funded by the General Assembly. VIVA was born on July 1, 1994.
VIVA had fairly flat funding for the first four years, approximately $2.5 million a year, or $5 million for each of the two biennial periods. In 1998-2000 we had a total of $6.1 million for the two-year period. And, I'm very happy to report that the Virginia General Assembly has appropriated an additional $2.7 million for the next biennium which if the Governor signs and if we maintain our current commitments will bring our total state funding to $8.8 million for the two-year period, 2000-2002.
In addition to these state funds, local institutions are contributing approximately $500,000 each year in additional funds, primarily for the Academic Press IDEAL subscription. We are currently projecting our total budget for the next two years to be approximately $10 million, or $5 million a year from all sources. As shown in Figure 3, we have approximately doubled the funds available to us from all sources in the past 5 years.
As shown in Figure 4, not only has VIVA funding increased over the years but we also have increased the percentage of our funds allocated to direct services. This chart shows the total budget (including local funds for our Academic Press subscriptions) in light blue and the amount of that budget allocated to our electronic collections in each of our biennia. In the early years, we allocated less than 40% of our total funds on collections. We are currently allocating approximately 86% of our funds for electronic collections. In addition, we are allocating approximately 3% for travel and training to improve our programs and implementation, and another 7% of our budget is directed to improving resource sharing through InterLibrary Loan services. Altogether, VIVA allocates approximately 96% of our total funds for direct services to our members.
Now I want to turn our attention briefly to consortia in America. To make a broad
generalization, all types of libraries have been involved in consortia for years. Whether through formal or informal
arrangements, librarians have worked together -- primarily in order to share their physical resources. Most of
these arrangements were based on geographic proximity (local and regional). Many other consortia were (and are)
based upon the type of library, or some combination of the two -- for example, a group of special libraries working
in a particular city.
Most academic consortia evolved from these same arrangements to assist libraries in sharing physical resources (2). Often these groups worked together to develop union catalogs to facilitate this resource sharing.
In the last decade, two factors have dramatically changed the purpose and shape of consortia --
Partly as a consequence of these major forces, we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of Statewide (and international) Academic Consortia in America in the last decade. Although there were many consortia before the 1990's, OhioLINK was the first major statewide consortium that caught everyone's attention in 1992. I think several states were busily writing proposals in 1993, because we saw the launching of both TexShare in Texas and VIVA in Virginia in 1994.GALILEO was launched in Georgia in 1995. PALCI in Pennsylvania was launched in 1996 and we have seen two major statewide consortia launched in 1997: the California Digital Library and the Kentucky Commonwealth Virtual Library.
I know I'm supposed to address the new millennium, but I do this with some trepidation. You see, VIVA does not have a good history of predicting the future. When we look at the first proposal, written in 1993, we see we emphasized three things that have simply not materialized.
WHAT IS OUR FUTURE?
Since I'm in Greece, I was able to ask the Oracle at Delphi (3) this question. This is where I go out on a short limb and make some predictions.
I believe that consortia will and must place more emphasis on attaining a balance between the amount of effort spent simply BUYING the resources, and the amount of time we spend ANALYZING and IMPROVING our implementation of those products. This is somewhat more difficult for VIVA than the more centralized consortia because we have so many different OPACs in the state. But we are working at several different levels --
Few consortia have the luxury of having a single OPAC system for all members (OhioLINK and the WRLC are two I'm aware of). Most of the rest of us have given up any hope of ever having just one of OPAC for all members -- certainly VIVA does not anticipate having one OPAC for all 71 members anytime in the near future. Therefore, many of the things that OhioLINK can accomplish in InterLIbrary Loan seemed beyond our wildest dreams. However, one of the most exciting developments I've seen recently in the InterLibrary Loan area is the rise of software that can assist us in creating a VIRTUAL UNION CATALOG. One example is the CPS software being implemented by PALCI (the Pennsylvania consortium) in their PALCI Virtual Union Catalog <formerly linked to http://www.lehigh.edu/~inpalci/VUC-proj.htm, page not available 2/4/2009> with Patron Initiated Requests Project. This and other similar software products will be discussed at the next ICOLC meeting in Orlando, Florida, and I believe this will change the way many of us do business.
This is more of a DREAM than a prediction, but I fervently hope that vendors will improve the statistics they provide to us. We spend a great deal of time trying to get them, determining what is represented, and presenting them to our members. VIVA maintains statistics on all of our products and these statistics help us evaluate our implementation of the products. When we see low numbers, our first inclination is not to judge the product or the vendor, but to look to our directors and our librarians to see if they need help in implementing the products more effectively. Figure 5 below shows a portion of the statistics page which provide a central place for us to locate all statistics provided by the vendors and summary pages prepared by the VIVA staff.
I predict that we will see more coordinated effort at providing intellectual access to electronic resources. We are seeing that now through the various linking services connecting our indexing and abstracting services to the full-text. We hope we can move away from vendors, aggregators, and publishers who appear to think that library users want to know who published an item or who aggregated an item. We also are working to receive additional assistance from the aggregators and vendors in helping our libraries maintain lists of titles included in aggregated collections. Even something as basic as the ISSN for each title would be helpful as the local libraries merge and sort their lists of titles.
It is easy to predict the increases in electronic journals and books, because we see it daily, but it is surely one of the most remarkable changes in our time. Ann Okerson (4) of Yale University has documented this, tracing the early beginnings through the ARL Directory listing, with 27 electronic journals in 1991, 36 in 1992, 181 journals in 1994, and 306 titles (of which 140 were entirely web-based) in 1995. In 1996, the listing was picked up by NewJour announcements (http://gort.ucsd.edu/newjour) and 2,000 titles were listed, by 1997 the number had increased to 3,634, and in 1998, the number was 6,900. As of mid-March 2000, the number was approximately 8,500, but Ann pointed out to me (5) that this is short all 1100 of the Elsevier titles and probably missing nearly all Springer, Wiley, and Blackwell Science titles also.
We are also seeing two very exciting academic projects for electronic books: netLibrary and ITKnowledge.
6. OVERLAPPING CONSORTIA
I think we will continue to see our libraries as members in overlapping consortia,
but perhaps not quite as many. With improved service delivery mechanisms and improved technology, we no longer
see geographic proximity as the primary attraction for networks. In fact, as we see with the Internet, geography
does not predict connectivity. I think that Mr. Tsekakis gave a perfect example of this yesterday when he said
that his library is often able to receive books from Australia faster than from a nearby library. So I predict
that we will see fewer consortia established simply because the libraries are neighbors. We may even see the demise
of a few local consortia.
At the other extreme, we have seen the rise of what I call the "Mega Deal" -- the large regional, national, and sometimes international deal inspired by conversations and meetings of the ICOLC. The best example to date is pricing for the CIS/Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe. At the ICOLC meeting in Chicago last September, Angee Baker reported that SOLINET has gathered 5.5 million FTE from 1,057 libraries. This has been extraordinarily successful and I am not aware of any libraries who have chosen to license Academic Universe outside of this arrangement. The next "Mega Deal" will be announced soon for the revised Oxford English Dictionary, to be managed by several regional networks.
These "Mega Deals" are impressive and serve all of us, but I believe they are appropriate only in selected circumstances. I predict that they will help all of us focus on our missions and that we will re-invigorate our efforts to be more than a "buying club".
Nevertheless, I should quickly add that we take enormous pride in the financial benefits VIVA has brought to our members through our consortial purchases. In fact, I have tracked VIVA's financial benefits in terms of cost avoidance from the very beginning. If the VIVA public institutions had purchased or licensed all VIVA resources individually (and not received any consortial discounts), the cost of these resources would total over $41 million. In fact, during that period we have spent just over $9 million for these same resources, for a cost avoidance of approximately $32 million. We are very careful not to call this $32 million "savings" however, because the schools never had that money to begin with.
Clearly, VIVA takes pride in the financial benefits we have brought to our members, but we see ourselves as much more than a BUYING CLUB. (6) In addition to the work we do selecting and acquiring electronic resources, our real value lies much deeper in our many other services --
In conclusion, the simple truth is that I believe that consortia have evolved over time and will continue to evolve. Perhaps it would help if we look at Penelope (7) weaving and re-weaving her tapestry.
She knew that unfortunate consequences would befall her if she were to finish. So every night she undid the work she had done that day. In a somewhat similar fashion, successful consortia will continue to reinvent themselves to meet the needs of the time and of their members.
I've enjoyed visiting with you and I invite you to VISIT VIVA whenever you get a chance. THANK YOU.
1. Encyclopaedia Britannica, http://search.eb.com/bol/topic?bin_id=21080, accessed on 3/12/00.
2. Potter, William, "Recent Trends in Statewide Academic Library Consortia" in Library Trends (Winter 1997, v. 45), p. 416+. (Accessed through InfoTrac, Expanded Academic ASAP, 3/12/00)
3. Photo by Farrell Grehan - Photo Researchers, Encyclopaedia Britannica, http://search.eb.com/bol/topic?asmbly_id=15071, accessed 3/11/00.
4. Okerson, Ann. "The Online E-Resources Environment After 10 Years: Expectations Meet Reality"(p.37-63) in Electronic Resources and Consortia, edited by Ching-chih Chen. Taipei, Taiwan: Science and Technology Information Center, National Science Council, 1999.
5. NewJour <http://gort.ucsd.edu/newjour/NewJourWel.html> listed 8,495 titles as of 3/14/2000. Estimate of 8,000 for the year 1999 was confirmed with email with Ann Okerson, 3/14/2000.
6. Oder, Norman. "Corsortia Hit Critical Mass" in Library Journal (February 1, 2000), p. 48-51.
7. Furtwangler & Reichhold, pl. 142, Drawing of Side A: Penelope at her loom, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/image?lookup=1993.01.0667, accessed 3/12/00.
Contact: Kathy Perry, VIVA Director