2016 Nomination for the IDS Project Online Learning Institute

Respectfully Submitted by Micquel Little and Collette Mak


We would like to nominate the IDS Project Online Learning Institute (OLI) for the Rethinking Resource Sharing Innovation Award. This new learning environment is the result of collaborations between the IDS Project, the Indiana State Library Resource Sharing Committee, the Academic Libraries of Indiana Resource Sharing Committee, and additional libraries across the nation. These three different organizations, as well as our additional collaborators, in nine states, hundreds of miles apart, have partnered to bring structured resource sharing classes to practitioners.

The process of discovery and requesting has become so fully automated, the staff performing resource sharing have become more disconnected to the process as a whole; they know their specific tasks but not how it fits into the broader process, let alone how resource sharing is leading the future of academic libraries. In addition, because resource sharing is increasingly overseen by staff and/or absorbed into other units such as acquisitions, staffs are unlikely to attend professional conferences or even training opportunities beyond those basic keystrokes they use on a daily basis. Resource Sharing depends on a community of libraries cooperating and collaborating together. Quality service to users only occurs when the people behind the tools/software are able to engage with their service in a way that promotes continued improvement, for each participating library to become an informed and responsible citizen in that community.

Increased use of automation is not a problem; it’s critical to our success. In presentations, Collette often reminds users that resource sharing is a back-room production operation that must look like a boutique service to the user. That magic is accomplished by making maximum use of technology in order to free staff to concentrate on those requests and those portions of the process that require human intervention, attention and people-to-people relationships. Technology, however, cannot recommend best practices or appropriate philosophy-of-service. It can, and should, only automate the philosophy of service as determined by the library. In an environment where the staff expected to make those decisions are increasingly led by non-librarians, and part of larger units, how can those staff learn the skills and justifications necessary for an efficient and responsible service?

The problem, then, was how can staff without travel or continuing education funds learn best practices? How do they get information about how to build a policy? How do they learn about copyright without the filter of a vendor financially incented to recommend the most restrictive practices? How do they learn best practices? How do they even learn that they are part of a worldwide community?

This multi-state collaboration has instituted a continuing education program to participants to address those issues and is adding to the core curriculum with classes on purchase in lieu of ILL, assessment, statistics and system-specific courses such as ILLiad addons.


The Online Learning Institute began with a pilot course out of the IDS Project in early 2014, Resource Sharing 101. The basic requirements were internet access, a headset, and a desire to engage with resource sharing at a higher level. With demonstrated success and positive feedback from participants,

collaborative conversations began taking place between Indiana partners and IDS partners. Collette was a guest instructor for copyright, which prompted a discussion after the pilot with OLI’s Coordinator, Micquel, about the possibility of collaboration between the Indian State Library Resource Sharing Committee (ISL RSC) to take the concept from pilot to program. The ISL RSC enthusiastically endorsed the concept and invited the Academic Libraries of Indiana Resource Sharing Committee (ALI RSC) to help. With volunteers from the ISL RSC, the ALI RSC, Tom Bruno at Yale University, and the OLI Team, we began planning the first courses over the fall of 2014. Classes were limited to twenty. This first series of classes filled within hours! We offered the courses three times in 2015 and now again in 2016, expanding the limit of seats per course to 30. Our team is currently in the organizational phase of adding additional courses including Technology Development, Workflow Analysis, Purchase on Demand, and Assessment. These areas of focus were identified after a survey of our past students and the resource sharing community at large.

Assessment of the Online Learning Institute:

Assessments in the Borrowing 101, Lending 101, and Copyright 101 over the past year of offerings, including 4 semesters of each course, show that 50% of our students identify themselves as improving their Knowledge/Skill Level either from Beginner to Average or Average to Above Average. The other 50% identify their Knowledge/Skill Level as remaining the same. We’ve had 176 students come through our courses from public libraries, academic libraries, special libraries, as well as a few international students from universities in Canada.

Student feedback consistently reported:

●  The Readings and Resources were helpful.
●  The assignments/discussions reinforcing their learning.
●  The instructors were knowledgeable.

Additional comments supporting these statistics include:

● “I really enjoyed the speakers, and I like Collette’s love of pop culture and how she brought in timely and relevant news examples; it seems like she carefully reviews content before each class to check for updates and I really appreciated that.”
● “I learned quite a bit and was surprised at what I thought I knew but actually discovered through this course.”
●  “Now I have a better grasp on the issues and perspectives of the ILL community.”
●  “I found the readings and quiz assignments most useful as they offered me the opportunity to revise and update my unit.”
● “Forcing me to give some specific time to the pertinent issues surrounding the sharing of resources. It is very easy to get caught up in the solving of problems every day and lose sight of the overall picture.”

Helpful constructive feedback was given as well. These assessments will frame future courses as well as future improvements to current courses. A few examples include:

● Clarity on technology engagement of the online course. More tools to help first time students taking an online course be comfortable with the format.
● Clarity on cost of courses and level of information being shared as “basic 101 information.”


In terms of sustainability, we are currently organizing additional courses to add to the Institute’s library of offerings. We narrowed down our focus by analyzing survey results from our past students as well as the resource sharing community at large. We’ve identified experts in those key areas of interest: Technology Development, Workflow Analysis, Purchase on Demand, and Assessment. These collaborations are not only benefiting the team of instructors investing in these courses, but the wide range of institutions and expertise involved is also providing a holistic perspective for students from all over the country to take advantage of at no cost to them! The more we are sharing we our colleagues, the better quality of service we provide to our patrons and the higher value we contribute to our organizations.


While we’re aware this isn’t the typical project considered for the Rethinking Resource Sharing award, we believe it fully meets the goal of the program. This is an excellent example of resource sharing involving libraries from California to Delaware. It is the resource sharing community in action identifying a need and finding a way to meet that need without barriers to participation. This collaboration is working to solve a very real problem—the lack of training beyond keystrokes.

Members of the Collaboration:

●  Tina Baich | IUPUI University | Indiana
●  Megan Gaffney | University of Delaware | Delaware
●  Bill Jones | IDS Project | New York
●  Micquel Little: Claremont University Consortium | California (Coordinator of OLI)
●  Collette Mak | Notre Dame University | Indiana
●  Heidi Nance | University of Washington | Washington
●  Chris Sisak | Nazareth College | New York
●  Steve Schmidt | Indiana State Library | Indiana
●  Adam Traub | Rochester Institute of Technology | New York

Additional members joining over the next year:

●  Cindy Kristoff| Kent State University| Ohio
●  Lars Leon| University of Kansas| Kansas
●  Kenny Ketner | Texas Tech | Texas
●  Ryan Litsey | Texas Tech | Texas
●  Brian Miller | Ohio State | Ohio
●  Heather Weltin | University of Wisconsin – Madison | Wisconsin
●  Kate Ross | St. John Fisher College | New York
●  Kourtney Blackburn | St. John Fisher College | New York

Letter of Support:

To: Rethinking Resource Sharing Innovation Award Committee
Re: Letter of Support for the IDS Project Online Learning Institute

Thank you for reviewing the nomination of the Online Learning Institute.

The IDS Project was founded on the belief that libraries needed to improve our resource sharing efficiencies and our sense of community. Over the years, these goals have developed into the IDS Project Mentor Program and the Regional User Groups (RUGs). Both programs are supported by nearly twenty Mentors and RUG Chairs. These Mentors and Chairs aid all IDS Members in developing workflow enhancements at their libraries and by opening a conversation that will continue long after the Mentors are finished with the initial process. Extrapolating this support further brings us to the idea of national courses that are taught by people sharing their expertise at no expense to the student.

The Online Learning Institute (OLI) is the brainchild of Micquel Little and has been supported by the IDS Project for almost three years. During its pilot phase, OLI had one course with a few instructors and nine students. Resource Sharing 101 was a simple course and was designed to determine if people would be interested in online ILL instruction and if they felt it was worth the time they had spent at the end of the course. The results were very promising and the OLI team received requests for courses that were a little more focused and a little less basic. OLI began offering three courses in the fall of 2014.

Borrowing, Lending, and Copyright 101 are taught by nine experts from libraries across the nation. These nine experts are volunteers who have spent a considerable amount of time and effort to offer these free courses to all libraries in the country. It may seem strange to think of experts volunteering their time as an act of resource sharing, but that is exactly what the OLI has implemented. The courses are four weeks long and consist of live classes and conversations, online readings, and assignments. The first series that was offered filled within a few hours of the announcement. Additional course series have also filled up very quickly, even with more seats being made available.

Over the past two years, the OLI team has taught twelve courses to approximately 200 students1. The success of these courses can be measured simply by the continued influx of new students into the 101 courses. Additionally, the reviews of the courses by the students have been very high and have helped the OLI team to make adjustments to improve the courses. For the coming fall semester, the OLI team has reached out to eleven new experts so that they will be able to teach several new courses, such as Acquisitions Integration (PDA), Introduction to SQL Database and Routing Rules, Statistics/Assessment, Website Design, and Workflow Analysis.

The work that Micquel and the rest of the OLI team have accomplished over the last two years has been amazing. At the International ILLiad Conference last March there was a lot of buzz about the courses that were being offered and a lot of surprise that they were free to everyone. The idea of experts being the resource that is shared through these courses is something different and it has allowed IDS to distribute the support needed among many libraries. With the continued support of these experts, and new ones joining in the future, OLI will have the opportunity to work with more and more resource sharing staff across the nation.

Please accept my letter of recommendation for the IDS Project Online Learning Institute.


Mark Sullivan
Executive Director
IDS Project

1 Some students took more than one course so while the course seats were filled, the number of students didn’t always increase. Number of seats was approximately 350.