OCUL Collaborative Futures

OCUL has undertaken the development of a shared vision of the future of library management systems in Ontario’s academic libraries - a vision that articulates new possibilities and builds on a decade-long history of collaboration and cooperation.

This vision involves radical collaboration to help OCUL libraries face the challenges of today - the transformation of scholarly communication and higher education, rapid developments in information technology, and declining or limited resources.

Achieving the vision

The vision is defined by the existence of a distributed and shared collaborative approach to print and electronic/digital resource management. This approach builds upon existing OCUL-wide collaborative initiatives such as Scholars Portal technology and collaborative licensing, as well as smaller-scale initiatives such as shared ILS systems and print storage facilities. The keys to achieving the vision include:

  1. Implement shared next generation library services platforms.

  2. Collaborate to manage and preserve print resources in a sustainable system.

  3. Collaborate to effectively use shared systems to manage electronic & print resources.

Participating Institutions

Libraries at 13 of OCUL’s 21 member institutions are currently participating in Collaborative Futures:

  • Brock University
  • Carleton University
  • University of Guelph
  • Lakehead University
  • Nipissing University
  • University Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT)
  • University of Ottawa
  • Queen’s University
  • Trent University
  • University of Waterloo
  • Western University
  • Wilfrid Laurier University
  • York University

Project Scope

To accomplish the vision, a multi-phase project has been planned.

Phase 3: Procurement and Implementation at Libraries
(Winter 2017-ongoing)

In March 2017, 13 libraries agreed to move forward with Phase 3, procurement and implementation of the shared system. Additional libraries have expressed continuing interest in the initiative and may join at a later date.

Since then, the Directors of the libraries participating in Collaborative Futures have--

  • Established a governance structure and populated the steering committee and 3 working groups;
  • Collaborated with the University of Ottawa to conduct procurement on OCUL's behalf;
  • Finalized requirements for the shared system;
  • Further developed a memorandum of agreement among the participating libraries;
  • Begun creation of a framework to help determine shared policy among participating libraries;
  • Established an expert advisory network of OCUL members to provide information and guidance during the procurement and implementation phase.

In November 2017, the University of Ottawa issued a request for proposal (RFP) for the shared system on behalf of OCUL members. Participating libraries are fully engaged in activities to acquire a shared library services platform, plan for data migrations, implement new work flows and prepare for live participation.

OCUL has selected the Ex Libris Alma® library services platform and Ex Libris Primo® discovery and delivery solution, as the core platforms for its Collaborative Futures initiative.

Phase 2: Developing System Requirements and Preparing for Procurement - Completed
(August 2015 – Fall 2016)

Phase 2 focused on further investigation and planning for the possible implementation of a shared next-generation library services platform to provide grounding for deeper collaboration. The 18 institutions that opted to participate in Phase 2 contributed expertise, staff time on working groups or teams and support to the project.
To complete this Phase, activities focused on extending our plans, identifying project funding, preparing requirements for technology acquisition, further market exploration and building our agreements for collaboration.

At the end of Phase 2, member libraries had the option to decide whether to move toward procurement and implementation of a shared system. Thirteen libraries decided to move forward to Phase 3 with another 3 libraries indicating ongoing interest with their decision forthcoming.

Phase 1: Feasibility Study - Completed
(November 2014 - July 2015)

In this first phase, the project focused on developing a business case to demonstrate the benefits and costs for collaboration in the three key areas.  At the end of this phase, OCUL presented information to member libraries to determine if they would like to proceed to the next Phase.

In April 2015, as part of this first phase OCUL requested information from software vendors and other organizations interested in and able to provide creative, innovative, and future-driven solutions to help us achieve our Collaborative Futures vision. A copy of this Request for Information (RFI) is available as a PDF. 
Download RFI as PDF PDF Icon

At the end of this phase there was strong support from Directors for OCUL to move forward to Phase 2 of the Collaborative Futures project.


OCUL Executive Director: John Barnett (john.barnett [at] ocul.on.ca)

Shared LSP Coordinator: Mandy Deans Kassies (mandy.deans [at] ocul.on)

Collaborative Futures Implementation Manager: Gordon Bertrand (gbertrand [at] wlu.ca)


More Information

https://spotdocs.scholarsportal.info/display/OCF/OCUL+Collaborative+Futures (login required)