RLG to Combine with OCLC

Just received this tidbit (which is a pretty major tidbit) from Kathleen Gundrum, the Director of Member Services at Nylink:

RLG to combine with OCLC

Combined programs and services to advance offerings
and drive efficiencies for libraries, archives, museums and other research
organizations worldwide

DUBLIN, Ohio, May 3, 2006—Two of the world’s largest
membership-based information organizations have agreed to come together.  The
combined organization will offer an integrated product and service line, and
will give libraries, archives and museums new leverage in developing services,
standards and software that will help them support research and disseminate
knowledge online.

The RLG Board of Directors and OCLC Board of Trustees
have recommended that the two service and research organizations be combined
effective July 1, 2006.  If approved by RLG member institutions, RLG’s online
products and services will be integrated with OCLC products and services, and
RLG’s program initiatives will be brought forward as a new division of OCLC
Programs and Research.

A combined organization would provide an opportunity
to leverage program strengths, services and innovative research initiatives, and
to deliver more value to a greater number of libraries, museums, archives and
other research organizations around the globe.

RLG is a nonprofit organization of over 150 research
libraries, archives, museums and other cultural memory institutions that designs
and delivers innovative information discovery services, organizes collaborative
programs, and takes an active role in creating and promoting relevant standards
and practices.  OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit, membership,
library service and research organization whose public purposes of furthering
access to the world’s information and reducing library costs dominate its plans
and activities.  OCLC provides computer-based cataloging, reference, resource
sharing, eContent, preservation services and research to 54,000 libraries in 109

“The last few years have instilled in us all an
urgent need to find innovative, cost-effective and compelling ways to bring
research collections into the heart of the online environment and into the hands
of those who can benefit from them,” said James Neal, Vice President for
Information Services and University Librarian at Columbia University, and Chair
of the RLG Board of Directors.  “It is time that RLG and OCLC take united action
if we are to realize our long-held and long-shared mutual goal of providing
information to people when and where they need it.  New challenges demand new
thinking, so after deliberation and careful thought, both RLG and OCLC came to
the conclusion that the best way to serve our members’ interests was to combine

“The OCLC Board of Trustees and OCLC management
believe that it is in the best interests of the library and cultural heritage
community in general, and the research library community in particular, for RLG
and OCLC to create a united organization that leverages our respective
strengths,” said Betsy Wilson, Dean of University Libraries, University of
Washington, and Chair, OCLC Board of Trustees.  “We must work together, so that
in the years to come, the people and institutions we serve will point to our
alliance as a signal achievement in advancing research, scholarship and

RLG’s program initiatives would be continued as
RLG-Programs, a new division of OCLC Programs and Research that would provide
programs to support architecture, standards development and best practices, to
name a few.

James Michalko, who currently leads RLG, would serve
as Vice President of RLG-Programs Development, working under the leadership of
Lorcan Dempsey, Vice President of Research and OCLC Chief Strategist. 
RLG-Programs would remain a membership-based organization.  Its agenda would be
shaped by the needs of its members and guided by a dedicated Program Council. 

“RLG-Programs will continue RLG’s successful
tradition of identifying issues and building consensus among research
institutions,” said Mr. Michalko.  “When combined with OCLC’s research
capacities and robust prototyping capabilities, RLG-Programs will transform
collaborative activity for our member institutions.  Through RLG-Programs
initiatives, staff from member institutions will work together to gain and share
competence in the use of new technologies, contribute to the development of new
standards, and collectively improve the ability of researchers to find and use
the rich collections that members manage on their behalf.”

RLG’s online products and services would be
integrated with OCLC service offerings as appropriate.  The potential for
increased services and consolidation of costs would result in overall savings. 
For example, RLIN, the RLG Union Catalog, would be integrated into WorldCat,
delivering economies of scale and reach that would benefit members of both RLG
and OCLC. 

Both organizations are committed to providing
seamless, high-quality services and service levels.  Any change in RLG service
offerings will be announced well in advance.

Approval of the agreement requires the assent of
two-thirds of voting RLG member institutions.  Voting will conclude in early
June.  RLG-Programs would maintain an office in Mountain View, California. 
Staffing decisions will be made in the weeks leading up to the proposed

“We know that the RLG membership shares with the OCLC
membership a conviction to deliver access to the world’s information,” said Jay
Jordan, OCLC President and CEO.  “Together, we can deliver enhanced solutions
that collect, organize, preserve and provide access to information, not just for
today, but for future generations.”

Nylink promises to keep the updates coming, and as I get them, I’ll post them here.

Breaking News!

About Jon Frater

A gaming industry stalwart dating back to the 1980s, Jonathan Frater is the co-author of roleplaying game books Robotech: Return of the Masters, and Robotech Adventures: Lancer’s Rockers, both for Palladium Books. Jonathan also wrote a column on writing and game design called The Tome in Gateways magazine. He’s currently a librarian at Metropolitan College of New York. Article 9, the first in his ambitious Blockade Trilogy, is Jonathan’s first full-length novel.

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