The Spring meeting of ASERL (Association of Southeastern Research Libraries) was in Tampa, FL on April 23-24. After the long, hard winter, we were all glad to get to the warm weather in Tampa, even if it was on the river, not the ocean. This was my last meeting as President, so I presided over the Board meeting on Wednesday morning, and then we had a business meeting and programs Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.

We heard presentations on federal open access and data sharing requirements, a study from the Greater Western Library Alliance on student learning outcomes, and a roundtable discussion on Resource Centered Management that was conducted al fresco. Two presentations I thought extremely useful I will detail here. The first was on the “Collective Collection,” a term from OCLC to describe the aggregate collection of materials held across collections of a group of institutions. It takes a look “above the institution” at networks of collaboration and coordination. It can apply to a consortium, state, region, mega-region, nation or globe. It uses WorldCat as a tool, which is a good reminder of the value OCLC can bring on behalf of individual libraries. General principles that have evolved from the data include:

  • Scarcity is relative
  • Scale adds scope and depth
  • Coverage requires cooperation

As stewardship models for print change to a more specialized, distributed approach, there is increased dependence on conscious coordination as a strategy. ASERL is a good example of that with our ScholarsTrust print repository of journals and the Centers of Excellence model for government documents.

The other program that drew my special interest was from Marshall Breeding, technology consultant, on webscale or next-generation integrated library systems. Marshall clearly laid out the difference between legacy systems, such as our own Voyager, and new systems like Ex Libris Alma, Innovative Interface’s Sierra, and OCLC Worldshare. He made the point that we need flexible platforms that can manage multiple types of library materials with multiple metadata formats in an appropriate workflow. As he succinctly put it, “libraries have changed, but our systems haven’t.” He predicts that we are at the beginning of the next ten year cycle of transition, leaving legacy products behind and going to new platforms that substantially change the way libraries manage resources, finally flipping the effort from the disproportionate time we spend on print resources to the digital resources that will be our future. Kuali OLE is the system that many people (including us) have been waiting for and they have two libraries (University of Chicago and Lehigh) going into beta this summer. We will all need to pay attention to these developments over the next few years.