Volume 15 Number 2
As nearly 18 months of transitions come to a close, this article reflects on the decision, process, and outcomes of the decision by Moon Library at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry to join SUNYConnect as a full partner.
The F. Franklin Moon Library is small, underfunded (we're ALL underfunded) and provides access to a very deep - yet very narrow - collection focusing on support of the STEM majors offered on our campus. In order to offer broader subject coverage, in order to thrive, and in order to survive, we have always sought and partnered with allies. For many decades that partnership was with Syracuse University. This made sense for a variety of historical and geographical reasons - we were originally a College of Syracuse University, and we sit right next door to their campus. Now all of that was about to change.
For many years, we enjoyed the capability of accessing electronic resources jointly licensed and purchased by ESF and Syracuse University Libraries. In late 2011, It was brought to our attention that this arrangement was contrary to provisions in many vendor contracts and was in conflict with ESF and SU's participation in the NorthEast Research Libraries Consortium (NERL) pricing agreements with publishers. Moreover, Syracuse University Libraries concluded a contract with Serials Solutions to employ Summon as its new discovery tool. The SU/Summon contract does not permit linking access/use by another party. Records reflecting our library's electronic holdings are not searchable or accessible through that interface. Our records are accessible through the "Classic" Voyager search interface. In short, this meant ESF could no longer share search and retrieval access to electronic resources across both our campuses in the manner in which we had become accustomed. As a result we needed to change the manner in which the SU and ESF libraries provide access to electronic information.
Not only have we long shared electronic access and an online catalog, we share electronic infrastructure, including IP addresses, bandwidth, and a proxy server. All of that now had to change, and it had to change relatively quickly and as seamlessly as possible to avoid disrupting the mission of the College. Since all of our electronic access had to change, it no longer made sense to keep our print holdings in the same catalog with all of SU's materials. The surest way to get our users to NOT rely on the SU catalog for electronic access was to have them not rely on the SU library catalog at all.
Beginning in May 2012, we needed a new e-journal locator service, we needed our own proxy server, we needed to beef up our electronic holdings independently of Syracuse University, and we needed a new library catalog. We needed help, and we needed a new partner.
Logically, (and fortunately) that partner is SUNYConnect. We have been a part of SUNY since 1948, after all, and we have been participating in many SUNYConnect initiatives and programs for many years. We have content communities in the SUNY Digital Repository. We use LAND/Empire delivery services and share in ILLIAD licensing. We were NYSHEI members. Yet because of our close relationship with Syracuse University we never participated in the SUNYConnect LMS. We did not use 360Link because we were sharing a different system. We were part of a separate Elsevier deal, we did not (could not) partake of other shared database licenses negotiated by OLIS.
As soon as the implications of our changing relationship with Syracuse University became apparent, I got on the phone to Carey Hatch, to Maureen Zajkowski and to John Schumacher.
Within days we were on our way to having a hosted EZProxy solution for remote access, and our own instance of 360Link. By late Summer we had both of these solutions implemented. John put us in touch with the database vendors with which SUNY had contracts or offers. We were able to expand the reach of our collection to replace a huge chunk of the access we were losing via Syracuse University. The ink was hardly dry on the 2012 list of SUNYConnect databases from EBSCO, and John got EBSCO to open up enough [editor's note: aka $$$] to let us in. We moved our titles and access to ScienceDirect from Syracuse University to SUNY almost seamlessly. In another few weeks we will havesuccessfully migrated our catalog from Voyager to Aleph with the support and help of Maureen Zajkowski and her staff (Maggie, Karen, Gail, Laura).
All this happened rather painlessly, but none of it happened without an awful lot of effort. John had to start getting our IP addresses and our FTE numbers included in existing contracts for access. Maureen had to fight hard to include our migration under the original SUNY contract with Ex Libris. We had to add extra staff here and re-assign duties to accommodate the changing nature of our operations. We've had to put on an incredible communications blitz to keep our students and faculty up to speed on all of the changes and explain thisprocess. The process hasn't been flawless. There have been some bumps in the road: there is legacy data that needs to be cleaned up, and there are gaps in our collection access, noticeable to the faculty, that I will never be able to fill relative to past access levels.
I can tell you that we have come out of this in fine shape, perhaps as strong a library as we have ever been. And I have to acknowledge that the SUNY OLIS staff did not have to do the things they did on our behalf. Coming in late as we did, we had to have been a giant pain in the neck. Well, maybe they did have to do this a little bit because our first name is SUNY, too. Yet we were asked by OLIS to join so many of these initiatives over the past few decades, and we always said "no thank you, we'll stick with SU" because we thought that was in our best interests. And so it was, for a time. When we found that the relationship with SU was no longer in our interests, and when we asked to come home as a "prodigal" library of sorts, we were welcomed with open arms, and OLIS went to work on our behalf in earnest. I can't say enough about the talented, engaged hard-working people at OLIS who have helped us with this transition. I CAN SAY -"We could not have asked for a better partner" and "Thank You."