SHARES began in the late 1970s and since then has enabled more than 80 participating institutions to agree on prices, procedures, and policies; monitor their own performance; and manage work flow to support increased lending activities. In addition, this program gives each participant's faculty, students, and staff on-site access to collections and services at the other SHARES institutions. All RLP partners are encouraged to join the SHARES listserv; to be added email the OCLC SHARES coordinator.
SHARES participants enjoy these benefits:
- Comprehensive, expedited access to partners' collections.
- Access to restricted, noncirculating, and special collections materials that partners would not normally lend.
- Costs of interlibrary loan and document supply held to minimum through agreements to supply one another at fixed below-market prices.
- On-site access for one's constituency: partners give each other's visiting faculty and scholars the same degree of access to collections and services that they provide for their own communities.
- Collegiality, trust, mentoring, sharing expertise, and going the extra mile.
"We definitely go the extra mile for SHARES partners and really appreciate when that is reciprocated, which is most of the time. We pursue loans of unusual items with collection managers, loan larger quantities of material per transaction, arrange for expedited and/or other kinds of special shipping, give longer loan periods/renewals (& more renewals), etc. It's this kind of value-added service that can really make a difference on those challenging requests that seem to crop up more and more often these days."
In addition, SHARES partners receive:
- Quick turn-around time on requests.
- Availability of hard-to-find items.
- Consideration of each request without blanket restrictions.
- Access to theses and dissertations.
- Collegiality within the SHARES partnership.
- Low and predictable pricing.
- Trusted partners with whom SHARES participants get to interact.
- Engagement with institutions such as NYPL that lend returnables almost exclusively to SHARES partners.
- An OCLC Research Program Officer who coordinates many of the consortium's activities.
- Access to expertise, career development, and collaborative opportunities within the SHARES partnership.
"We received a request to borrow a 2001 periodical this morning from a SHARES library to make copies for replacement pages. As long as this volume is on the shelf, we will loan. We would have declined the request if it had been placed by a library that is not a member of SHARES. When PUL is short-staffed, we are able to allow OCLC requests from SHARES libraries to transmit while deflecting all requests from libraries that are not members of SHARES."
Many SHARES participants offer these exclusive benefits to others in the SHARES partnership:
- First priority lending.
- Lending to only to SHARES partners when they are so short staffed that other requests must be deflected.
- Multiple renewals.
- Confirmation of questionable citations.
- Personal attention, exceptions and special favors.
- Permission to lend special collections.
"The benefits of SHARES membership are immeasurable. Close to 80% of our filled OCLC requests are supplied by our SHARES partners in a minimal amount of time and with great care, generosity, and personal attention. This means less time spent on tracking requests, shipping issues, and pleading for special loans. Trusted partners make all the difference! Our patrons are consistently amazed by the materials we are able to provide them with and that is due in large part to the dedicated SHARES community.”
—Getty Research Institute
Throughout 2021, the SHARES Executive Group invites all SHARES participants to come together in conversation and action around four themes, starting with Making ILL Materials Accessible.
In 2018 and 2019, the SHARES Executive Group engaged with all SHARES participants in rethinking SHARES policies and values.