Montana State Library

Share resources to expand outreach and preservation opportunities

Photo of people reading in a library

"OCLC's group services empowered us to approach our challenges using a democratic process, which continues to this day. Everyone has the right to play, in terms of sharing the tools we need to connect our communities to our collections."

Bruce Newell
Director, Montana Library Network at the Montana State Library (1999 – 2006); Delegate, OCLC Members Council (2000 – 2006); Member, OCLC Board of Trustees (2006 – 2012)

"Montana residents and its libraries value cooperation and neighborliness," said Bruce Newell, former Director of the Montana Library Network at the Montana State Library. "Despite the early attempts of sharing data through proprietary systems using microfiche and CDs, many libraries throughout the state continued to be isolated, both geographically and technologically. In 2000, the Montana State Library (MSL) became the first group to pursue an OCLC license that was statewide—the result of statewide discussions led by MSL's technology advisory committee. We then encouraged individual libraries to participate, not the other way around."

Bruce, along with Karen Strege, who was Montana's State Librarian in 2000, began Montana's Group Services initiative. By 2013, more than a dozen OCLC cataloging and resource sharing tools were available to 249 public, academic and special libraries and branches. In addition to OCLC Cataloging and Metadata Subscriptions, WorldShare® Interlibrary Loan and WorldCat®, many Montana libraries also have access to CONTENTdm®, WorldShare Collection Evaluation, ILLiad® and EZproxy®.

"Between 2012 and 2013 alone, Montana library staff added 263 original records to WorldCat, updated 89,432 existing WorldCat records with local holdings, filled 53,071 interlibrary loan requests and lent 54,237 items using OCLC interlibrary loan tools," reported Cara Orban, Statewide Projects Librarian at the Montana State Library.

"When West Yellowstone Library—a town with a population of about 1,200—switched on OCLC's Resource Sharing, the first request came from the Smithsonian. Everyone's got the best sellers du jour, but what's extraordinary is that every library has within its collections something that's just fabulous and unique. And it's our responsibility to share that with the world as well as to let the world in. That's the two-way street that I see services like CONTENTdm bringing to libraries and information seekers—participatory preservation."

Bruce Newell, Director, Montana Library Network at the Montana State Library (1999 – 2006); Delegate, OCLC Members Council (2000 – 2006); Member, OCLC Board of Trustees (2006 – 2012)

"Because of our strong collaboration, in recent years we've been able to focus more on community outreach initiatives like library kits to create maker spaces, MontanaLibrary2Go, Ready 2 Read and the Montana Memory Project," said Sarah McHugh, Director of Statewide Library Resources. She joined the Montana State Library in 2000 and served as the Director of the Montana Shared Catalog prior to her current role.

The Montana Memory Project (MMP) is a collaborative collection of historic material and contemporary, born-digital content and is hosted on CONTENTdm. The MSL has partnered with the Montana Historical Society Research Center to fund and implement what has grown to 67 collections from 30 organizations—more than 501,000 images in total. The MMP has also become a partner of the Mountain West Digital Library, a central search portal for digital collections about the Mountain West region.

"The long-standing MSL technology advisory committee has been guiding us ever since and has been the forum from which sprang the Montana Library Network, the Montana Shared Catalog and so many other statewide collaborative efforts," Bruce told us.

"Our OCLC group services and other cost-share formulas continue to make services affordable for all. Our libraries realize that we are all in this together, and by pooling our resources together, we are helping each other accomplish amazing things that we couldn't do alone," he added. "For us, OCLC membership is truly about access, ultimately to the end user but also providing libraries the ability to give users access to the world's information, library holdings around the world and digital content."


From left: Cara Orban, Statewide Projects Librarian, Montana State Library, and Sarah McHugh, Director of Statewide Library Resources, Montana State Library

Map showing location of Montana State Library

Montana libraries' milestones and

  • Montana State University completed the 99 millionth OCLC Interlibrary Loan request on April 14, 2000. On May 20, 2004, Montana State Library entered the 136 millionth OCLC Interlibrary Loan request.
  • In 2006, 12 libraries in Montana participated in the WorldCat Delivery Pilot program.
  • In 2009, Sarah McHugh joined the OCLC Web-scale Management Services Library Advisory Council. This council helped shape what is now OCLC WorldShare Management Services.
  • Bruce Newell was elected to represent the needs of Montana libraries as a delegate to OCLC Members Council (now Global Council) from 2000 to 2006. In May 2006, he was elected by OCLC Members Council delegates to a six-year term on the OCLC Board of Trustees.
  • Bonnie J. Allen, University of Montana, was elected as a delegate to OCLC Global Council to serve a three-year term from July 2011 through June 2014.
  • By 2013, more than a dozen OCLC cataloging and resource sharing tools were available to 249 public, academic and special libraries and branches throughout Montana.
  • Sarah McHugh is currently serving on OCLC’s Digital Repository Services Advisory Group.
  • To date, Montana libraries have contributed 78,912 records to WorldCat, of which 27,981 are unique.

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