“If OhioLink is cut off, the message that’s being sent out is that the college is not going to reopen,” said Olive Kettering Librarian Richard Kerns, in response to rising concerns about the fate of Antioch College’s interlibrary database system. In order not to loose membership by June 2008, the University has to provide written intention of renewal by the end of this months. “I’m just hoping the University understands the importance of OhioLink,” Kerns expressed in an interview on Friday. OhioLink (Ohio Library and Information Network) is a consortium of the academic and research libraries of 86 colleges and universities across the state of Ohio. According to Debra Oswald, head librarian at the Olive Kettering Library, “All of us make up OhioLink, so there’s not an OhioLink that you subscribe to. It’s all of these libraries pooling our resources, sharing our collections, and cooperating.’’
Forming the college’s gateway to OhioLink is OPAL (Ohio Private Academic Libraries), a smaller consortium that is part of OhioLink. Formed to allow the smaller private academic libraries -like the Olive- to join OhioLink, it provides the technical support the College needs to catalog its records, give out library cards and provide access to OhioLink resources at home and off campus.
The college’s access to OPAL derives from a contract with membership organization OhioNet. This contract is due to expire by the end of June, 2008, unless the University is willing to provide a statement of intent to sign on for another three years by October 1. This is the bottom line of a recent letter of notification sent to Antioch University. So far the Kettering librarians have not heard of University administrators drafting a statement to that affect.
“It was just kind of a coincidence that the OPAL contract ended at the time that the college is going to be suspended, if that’s going to happen,” Oswald said. OhioNet would like to see Antioch continue as a member, she adds. At the same time the consortium is glancing at the university to take the college’s place in case the main campus should indeed close by July 2008, following a resolution of the University Board of Trustees this summer.
In last week’s AdCil meeting, Communications Technician Carol Braun asked whether the Olive’s lack of an acquisitions staff-member -a position cut in August- would prevent the continuation of the contract with OhioNet. According to Oswald, interviewed last Friday, acquisitions are not necessarily a requirement to be an OhioNet member. The assumption is, however, that each library has a collection to share, “and if you are not acquiring new materials, you’re not fulfilling your obligations.”
The library is planning for a meeting with head of OhioLink Tom Sanvil, in October to address a lack of acquisitions, Ritch said. “They might let us slide.” In addition, the library is “working on scenarios” with Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, Laurien Alexandre, who would likely be involved in the October meeting.
Chief Operations Manager Andrzej Bloch underlined that there is no money to restaff any of the positions cut over the summer, but that he will do his best to continue the OhioLink subscription. Were the college to close its doors, he added, the Olive would likely stay open to serve McGregor students and the Yellow Springs community and, “be there for 2012.”
Whether OhioNet membership has an effect on the process of accreditation for both Antioch College and McGregor is a hot topic of speculation. “McGregor recently got NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education Programs) accreditation,” recounts Oswald. “The accreditation team that visited was interested in the library, so it definitely played a part.”
According to Olive Kettering librarian Kerns, OhioLink services are a major component of the online education Antioch University offers, and that they would likely want to maintain membership. In regard to who would carry the costs of the $26,000 membership fee for OPAL and upward of $12,000 for OhioNet, Bloch told AdCil last week that the university would likely be footing the bill.
OhioLink is the largest library consortium of its kind in terms of the number of libraries, and the number of resources it provides. It boasts an online journal center which is the largest of its kind and an ebook collection is under development. Without these resources and the myriad of tech services that come with OhioLink membership, the Olive will not be able to maintain the level of service it has previously been known for, fears Oswald. “I would think [the University] want to participate,” she said. “OhioLink is an essential part of who we are; I can’t imagine library life without it.”