OCUL Collaborative Futures - End of Phase One and Next Steps

  • Posted on: 16 September 2015
  • By: Anika

The OCUL Directors met on July 20-21 to review the Collaborative Futures Business Case and to make a decision about next steps, and whether there was a significant interest in moving to Phase Two of the project. The following provides some background on the project and outlines the decision and next steps for the project.


OCUL is developing a new strategy to guide the future of library management systems in Ontario’s academic libraries. The Collaborative Futures project aims to maximize the existing expertise and resources of OCUL members while fostering a deeper and more comprehensive collaborative venture among Ontario’s academic libraries.
The Collaborative Futures project offers OCUL member institutions a number of opportunities for information technology management, sharing, preservation, and collaboration:

  • Provide a common platform for discovery of scholarly resources and collections
  • Perform common business practices and services at a network level, allowing individual libraries to focus on unique needs and services
  • Share expertise across the province
  • Manage E-Resources
  • Manage and preserve print collections

Collaborative Futures has three phases, all of which OCUL member institutions can choose to participate in as the project progresses. The success of Collaborative Futures is not premised on full participation by all OCUL libraries, and the initiative can proceed with an early adopter core for Phases Two and Three, with others joining later as they wish.
Phase One: Feasibility Study (November 2014 – July 2015) - COMPLETED
Conduct a feasibility study (also called the Business Case) which:

  • Demonstrates the project’s benefits and costs
  • Clarifies how much Ontario’s University Libraries are collectively paying for library management functions (staff, hardware, software)
  • Determines the needs of member libraries regarding the ongoing management and preservation of print collections
  • Identifies library workflow practices, commonalities, and opportunities for collaboration

At the end of Phase One, OCUL member libraries determined whether or not to proceed to Phase Two.
Phase Two: Start-Up (August 2015 – May 2016)
Activities will be focused on:

  • Achieving project funding
  • Preparing requirements for technology acquisition
  • Building agreements for collaboration
  • Finding opportunities to improve the user experience by aligning library policies

Phase Three: RFP and Implementation (June 2016 – December 2017)

  • Issue a Request for Proposal (RFP)
  • Select technology
  • Implement at participating libraries

Further details about Phase Two and Three will be developed as the project progresses.

Business Case

The Business Case (Phase One feasibility study) is built on the work of the Collaborative Futures Project Team and its working groups.
The business case outlines the current strategic environment, the business needs and change drivers, and a selection of possible models for collaboration spread across a continuum from basic coordination through to extensive integration of systems, acquisitions, and data sharing. The business case also presents risk assessment and project resources.
The Directors were asked to consider this business case, provide feedback and general direction for the project and determine if their institution would like to participate in Phase Two.

Decision and next steps

There was strong support from the Directors for OCUL to move forward to Phase Two of the Collaborative Futures project.
The OCUL Directors charged the Executive with developing a detailed plan for their approval, to advance Phase Two of the project. This plan will outline a draft project structure and working groups, and OCUL funding for project management and support, such as external project resources. It is anticipated that the plan will be finalized and approved in early Fall.
Those institutions that have opted to participate in Phase Two may contribute expertise, staff time on working groups or teams and support to the project.
The following 18 institutions have elected to participate in Phase Two of the project:

  • Algoma University
  • Brock University
  • Carleton University
  • University of Guelph
  • Lakehead University
  • Laurentian University
  • McMaster University
  • Nipissing University
  • OCAD University
  • UOIT
  • University of Ottawa
  • Queen’s University
  • Trent University
  • University of Waterloo
  • Western University
  • Wilfrid Laurier University
  • University of Windsor
  • York University

The following institutions have elected not to participate in Phase Two but have expressed support for the project:

  • Royal Military College of Canada
  • Ryerson University
  • University of Toronto


More information

Further information, including detailed documentation from the Phase One working groups and recordings of the monthly webinar updates, is available to staff at OCUL member libraries via the Collaborative Futures SPOTdocs wiki space: https://spotdocs.scholarsportal.info/display/OCF/OCUL+Collaborative+Futures


Project Manager, Amy Greenberg  amy.greenberg [at] ocul.on.ca
OCUL Executive Director, John Barnett  john.barnett [at] ocul.on.ca