June 9, 2006 RLG Programs Partner Update

From Jim Michalko, President, RLG

The RLG Board and I are pleased to report that the RLG membership voted in favor of the proposed combination with OCLC. As of July 1, we will begin to operate as RLG Programs, a unit of the OCLC Programs and Research Division. Integration of RLG services into the OCLC service array will begin at that time.

Before we shift our focus and energies to the transition into the future, I think it's important to reflect on our past which we've been privileged to share with you.

RLG was founded in 1974 with the express goal of reducing institutional costs of acquisitions, shared cataloging, preservation, resource sharing, and communications. We met that goal over time in many ways and for many constituencies by blending managed collaboration and innovative service provision. This combination of an operational capacity with your willingness to work jointly has delivered a legacy of progress. Here's just a few of the many the extraordinary things we achieved together:

  • We built a catalog of remarkable breadth and depth that met the essential management needs of librarians and archivists, which grew to the point where it also met the research information needs of students and scholars.
  • We built a trusted global community of institutions who borrow and loan materials so that researchers can do their work better.
  • We took on the brittle paper challenge and collectively managed the preservation of thousands of at-risk volumes and saved them for the future.
  • We helped our community gain deeper understandings of research collections and how collecting patterns could influence collaborative collection development.
  • We fundamentally redefined the description and discovery of primary resources and changed the way users of original source materials sought and made use of the rare, the special, and the unique.
  • We created communities of interest, professional associations, and interactions that transformed careers and informed a generation of library leaders.

Everything that we've done took research and scholarship as its starting point. Expanding access to research resources is the bigger goal that has informed our agenda for these 32 years across huge shifts in technology, audiences, economics, expectations, and institutional roles. You judged the work important as evidenced by the continuing growth and globalization of the membership. And you supported the work with your funding, energy, engagement, and effort.

More than a generation of RLG and member institution staff have much to be proud of. By combining the RLG ethos and experience with OCLC's capacities and practices, current staff and members will have even more to look forward to.

At RLG's 25th Anniversary meeting, I said that our job was to "see the future and make it work" for research and scholarship. Our reason for existence is to help research institutions face and manage the transformational challenges. With your support, we've now chosen to transform the organization so that it can most effectively address those challenges. We look forward to working with your institution in our new form as a renewed collective for research institutions.

Honor the past accomplishments by taking a look at our timeline. Read our prospectus and come to the annual meeting next week ready to start shaping our future.

We are a worldwide library cooperative, owned, governed and sustained by members since 1967. Our public purpose is a statement of commitment to each other—that we will work together to improve access to the information held in libraries around the globe, and find ways to reduce costs for libraries through collaboration.