A new library management system to share Canada’s published documentary heritage

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Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has entered into a contractual agreement with OCLC, an international non-profit library co-operative. Effective March 23, 2017, this agreement will allow LAC to offer the Canadian library community world-class services to display the richness of Canada’s documentary heritage.

OCLC was awarded the contract following a Government of Canada public procurement process. The co-operative was determined to be the only organization that was able to meet all of LAC’s requirements.

OCLC is the world’s largest online resource for discovering library materials. LAC has acquired its services to support the management of acquisitions, cataloguing, serials control, public access, circulation, loans to other institutions and to assume responsibility for the management of the National Union Catalogue. The initial contract is for five years.

The leading-edge system offered by the co-operative is available in both official languages. It is reliable, high-performing, accessible, evolving and mobile-friendly.

OCLC will replace LAC’s 20-year-old library management system, called AMICUS, which is currently used to manage published materials held at LAC, and to support discovery of holdings located in hundreds of libraries across Canada. LAC’s current system includes the National Union Catalogue, made up of bibliographic descriptions and location information for these resources. It covers all subject areas and formats including printed books, computer files, sound recordings, videos, maps, microforms, newspapers, and works in large print and Braille.

LAC’s current system is outdated and no longer adequately meets the needs of Canadians. Following an in-depth analysis and consultations with key stakeholders in the Canadian library community, LAC concluded that it would be less costly to acquire these services than to build and maintain an in-house system.

Implementation of LAC’s new library management system will take place over the next 24 months. LAC will continue to serve its clients using AMICUS while the new service is implemented. Once the OCLC system is fully operational in 2018, AMICUS services will be discontinued.

To take advantage of OCLC’s world-class services, Canadian libraries must be members of the co-operative. Many Canadian libraries are already members of OCLC. In line with feedback from the Canadian library community, LAC has negotiated an agreement with OCLC whereby LAC will cover the interlibrary loan and copy cataloguing subscription fees for small public libraries and small libraries at post-secondary institutions (community colleges, CEGEPs and universities). In spring or summer 2017, LAC will let libraries know how they can apply for financial assistance in order to become members of OCLC.

LAC will also work closely with Canadian libraries that are not OCLC members to resolve their interlibrary loan and copy cataloguing needs.

Over the course of this transition, LAC will communicate regularly with the Canadian library community to obtain feedback and to provide updates on upcoming milestones and timelines.

Questions

  • 1. What is the system currently used by LAC, and why does it need to be replaced? 

    AMICUS is the current system used to manage published materials held at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and also to allow the discovery of holdings located in hundreds of libraries across Canada. It is the platform for the National Union Catalogue (NUC).

    Created more than 20 years ago, AMICUS is technologically outdated. Its maintenance costs continue to increase, and it no longer serves its purpose adequately. Neither AMICUS nor the NUC have kept pace with new web and mobile-friendly functions, and do not offer user customization options or links to social media.

  • 2. How much is LAC paying for this new OCLC system?

    The total cost of initial and mandatory services for the first five years, including applicable taxes, is $4.47 million. For more information, see buyandsell.gc.ca website.

    This system will be less costly for LAC over time than the current outdated one. In addition, users will have access to state-of-the-art services.

  • 3. Why did LAC choose to work with OCLC?

    Through an Advance Contract Award Notice (ACAN) procurement process managed by Public Services and Procurement Canada, OCLC was determined to be the only organization that could meet LAC’s requirements.

    OCLC is an international non-profit co-operative. It is dedicated to the goal of furthering access to the world’s information resources. OCLC provides services to libraries in 170 countries. Many libraries in Canada are already members. OCLC and its member libraries co-operatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the largest online public access catalogue in the world. OCLC provides online services in English and French, as well as in many other languages. The organization already partners with the national libraries of New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain and the Netherlands. OCLC’s Canadian office is located in Montréal.

  • 4. What benefits will the OCLC system offer to Canadian users?

    Everyone in Canada and in other countries will have access to LAC’s public catalogue. The web interface will be visually appealing, easy to use and intuitive, and it will still offer advanced search options for experienced clients.

    Because OCLC will be a one-stop shop, it will be much easier for Canadian users to discover not only the holdings of LAC and Canadian libraries but also what is available in libraries around the world.

    Canadian users will also benefit from a mobile version available on smartphones and tablets, and ongoing improvements and innovations from the world’s leader. OCLC frequently updates its services to keep up with trends and the expectations of users.

  • 5. Why should Canadian libraries become members of OCLC?

    By working with OCLC, LAC and participating Canadian libraries will be able to provide a single window for their documentary resources and collections. This will simplify access for Canadians and researchers from around the world.

    To benefit from OCLC’s world-class services, Canadian libraries must be members of the co-operative. Many Canadian libraries are already members of OCLC. By becoming members of OCLC, Canadian libraries will enjoy valuable high-quality and leading-edge services.

    In line with feedback from the Canadian library community, LAC has negotiated a provision with OCLC whereby LAC will cover the subscription fees for small public libraries and small libraries at post-secondary institutions (community colleges, CEGEPs and universities). This support will allow them to acquire OCLC copy cataloguing, including contributing their holdings to OCLC, and interlibrary loan services.

Useful information for Canadian libraries

  • With the transition to OCLC, what are the next steps for libraries?

    In order to benefit from OCLC services, Canadian libraries must be members of the co-operative.

    Different situations would apply, depending on the type of library:

    • If libraries already subscribe to OCLC copy cataloguing and interlibrary loan services, there will be no additional cost for them.
    • LAC will cover the costs of subscriptions for small Canadian public libraries and small libraries at post-secondary institutions (community colleges, CEGEPs and universities). They will then be able to acquire copy cataloguing, including contributing their holdings to OCLC, and interlibrary loan services. In the spring or summer of 2017, LAC will post information about registration. To qualify for LAC’s support, libraries must be:
      • public libraries with up to 50,000 population served; or
      • libraries at post-secondary institutions with a collection size of up to 60,000 items (print books, serial backfiles, e-books, audio/visual, serials held, e-reference sources).
    • Please note that this financial assistance is not available to elementary and high school libraries (including school districts and school boards), nor to regional library systems, special libraries or other government libraries.
    • Canadian libraries that are not eligible for financial support must contact OCLC directly to determine pricing for copy cataloguing and interlibrary loan services. For further details, please contact canada@oclc.org.
    • LAC will also work closely with Canadian libraries that are not OCLC members to resolve their interlibrary loan and copy cataloguing needs.
    • In spring 2017, LAC will contact libraries that contribute their holdings to AMICUS to discuss next steps.
  • What will happen to information currently stored in AMICUS?

    There are currently some 65 million holding records in AMICUS.

    • LAC will send all of its bibliographic records to OCLC;
    • LAC will not send library holdings records to OCLC without the agreement of the owning library;
    • LAC will not send records of holdings if OCLC already has more up-to-date holdings for that library.

    Client information will not be migrated to OCLC. Instead, LAC staff will re-register clients in OCLC. This will ensure that long-obsolete client records are not migrated to OCLC. LAC clients will also be aware that their data is stored in OCLC’s system. Information about LAC’s clients will be protected and stored on OCLC servers in Canada.

  • What would libraries gain by joining OCLC?

    • MARC21 record download: Subscribing to OCLC significantly improves the match rate for copy cataloguing searches for publications as compared with what exists in AMICUS. It also reduces both the need for original cataloguing and the workload of Canadian libraries that are members of OCLC.

    • Interlibrary loan: Using the largest online public access catalogue in the world (containing the holdings of hundreds of Canadian libraries in addition to tens of thousands of international libraries) will allow subscribing libraries (on behalf of their clients) to borrow material they do not have in their own collections from other libraries that do.

    • Loading holdings into OCLC’s WorldCat: This enables libraries to share their own bibliographic records and holdings with other Canadian libraries.

    • Continuous improvement: As members of OCLC, libraries participate in a global international co-operative of libraries. They also benefit from OCLC services such as OCLC research, in addition to the ongoing enhancement and development of new services.
  • Will LAC continue to maintain Canadiana Authorities in English and in French?

    LAC has joined the Name Authority Cooperative Program (NACO). NACO libraries create standardized English-language forms of creator names to be used in the bibliographic records of all participating libraries. For English-language authority records, NACO will replace Canadiana Authorities.

    LAC’s transition to NACO will benefit the Canadian library community, as English-language bibliographic records created by LAC will use the same name headings as those used by other English-language libraries in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. This consistency of “access points”, or how names are formulated, is one key for effective sharing of copy cataloguing records across libraries.

    NACO authority records in English can be freely accessed on the Library of Congress Authorities web page and viaf.org. Name headings used by LAC will also be freely available by searching the future LAC catalogue in OCLC.

    Discussions about how to transition to NACO are now under way. Once this process is completed and LAC begins cataloguing in OCLC, a separate English Canadiana name authority file will not be maintained. Until then, LAC name authorities will continue to be available at Canadiana Authorities as well as in AMICUS.

    NACO has more than 750 participating libraries, including national libraries such as the Library of Congress (U.S.), the British Library, and the national libraries of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Across Canada, there are several academic, government and public library participants.

    While many organizations around the world maintain French-language authority files, there is currently no international shared French-language authority program comparable to what is available in English through NACO. For this reason, LAC will continue to maintain its separate French-language name authority file. Once these authority records now maintained in AMICUS are migrated to OCLC, LAC will use OCLC’s system for creating and updating French name authorities. LAC French-language authority data will continue to be freely accessible at viaf.org. Name headings used by LAC will also be freely accessible by searching the future LAC catalogue in OCLC. LAC will most likely also make batch files of French-language authority records freely available to interested libraries. The mechanism for sharing these files has yet to be determined, and LAC will provide this information when it is available.

  • About copy cataloguing

    LAC’s agreement allows qualifying libraries—small public libraries and small libraries at post-secondary institutions (community colleges, CEGEPs and universities)—to use a simple OCLC web interface for copy cataloging. Libraries using this service will be required to share their holdings with OCLC via batch loading or one by one (when they download copy cataloguing records). OCLC will permit one free batch load of the libraries’ records per year, to ensure that libraries keep their holdings as current as possible. Alternatively, libraries without the technical capacity to copy and extract their records from their library management systems will commit to adding their holdings one by one when searching for copy cataloguing in OCLC. 

  • About alternative formats

    LAC currently adds bibliographic and holdings records manually to AMICUS on behalf of small, non-MARC-based libraries that specialize in the collection and provision of resources for clients with print disabilities. LAC will continue this work following the transition to OCLC.

  • Will LAC’s agreement with OCLC change LAC’s Loans to Other Institutions service?

    LAC’s agreement with OCLC does not change the policies of LAC’s Loans to Other Institutions service. LAC will continue to loan to other Canadian libraries outside the National Capital Region only, to support researchers when the requested material is not available anywhere else than in LAC’s holdings.

    The mechanisms that LAC will use in the future to deliver the Loans to Other Institutions service will change once OCLC replaces AMICUS. These mechanisms are still to be determined, and LAC will provide further information as it becomes available. A subscription to OCLC’s interlibrary loan services will not be required for libraries to use LAC’s service.

  • What options are offered for libraries that don’t want to join OCLC?

    If libraries do not qualify for LAC-funded subscriptions for small academic and public libraries, and choose not to subscribe directly with OCLC, they can turn to other available options.

    • Libraries will still be able to search, at no charge, for copy cataloguing records from thousands of libraries in Canada and around the world that provide open Z39.50 access to their catalogues. (Z39.50 is a library-specific protocol for machine-to-machine communication.)

    • LAC will continue to support interlibrary loan (ILL) services between other Canadian libraries by maintaining the Symbols and Interlibrary Loan Policies in Canada directory.

    • OCLC ILL subscriptions will not be required for libraries to request loans from Library and Archives Canada through its Loans to Other Institutions service.

    • Libraries will be able to search LAC’s WorldCat Discovery interface (once it is set up) to find libraries in Canada that hold the item they are interested in. They will then be able to search LAC’s Symbols and Interlibrary Loan Policies in Canada directory to learn about library loan policies and obtain contact information for these libraries to request loans.

Contact us

For questions or further information, please contact bac.servicesauxbibliotheques-libraryservices.lac@canada.ca.

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