Discovery to Delivery in New Contexts Symposium

This two-day symposium for RLG Partners and guests focused on the discovery to delivery traverse patrons make to gain access to research materials. The agenda was inspired by the September RLG Partners meeting and the Discovery to Delivery Services in the Research Library meeting held on December 4th in the UK.

The meeting took place in the Celeste Bartos Forum of The New York Public Library. A list of symposium participants can be found here.

Day 1: What is needed to address our grand challenges?

David Ferriero, New York Public Library

Setting the stage: RLG Programs and symposium objectives
Merrilee Proffitt and Karen Smith-Yoshimura, RLG Programs, OCLC

The RLG Programs and OCLC Office of Research approach: issue identification, then prototyping, followed by service or result set. Leverage the collective expertise of RLG Partners to guide RLG Programs in near-term and future work and collaborate on pragmatic approaches that can be applied regionally, nationally, or multi-nationally.

All services centered around users, wherever they are. Discovery is increasingly outside the domain of libraries. In the evolving information ecosystem, what can we do together to address the grand challenges to deliver collections and services seamlessly, even transparently?

Keynote: D2D or MIAMeeting our mission in the Internet Age
Roy Tennant, California Digital Library

A core part of our mission is to get our users to the information they seek. Increasingly this information is not under our control or even easily discoverable. What are the main discovery to delivery challenges for libraries? What are some of the ways that libraries are beginning to address these challenges? How can libraries work together and with other organizations to get our users to all the information to which they have access—both our managed collections and resources hosted by Google, Microsoft, and others? These questions are explored in a rollicking look at how we need to address these D2D challenges—or else be considered missing in action by the people we serve.

Bridging the library community with the rest of the Web community
Catalyst: Cyril Oberlander, University of Virginia

Facilitated discussion

Delivering to users wherever they are
Catalyst: Genevieve Clavel, Swiss National Library

Adapting to the post-Google environment and proactively enabling other libraries to do the same—partnerships within and beyond the library community, and collaborations that bridge national bundaries. What drives the need for service specialization around local needs? What's needed in the information environment to accommodate that customization?

Facilitated discussion

Digitization and impact on use and delivery
Catalyst: John Wilkin, University of Michigan

What is needed to provide an "optimum delivery" environment that recognizes the user's rights, affiliations, and purpose?

Facilitated discussion

Day 2: Synthesizing the discussion: possible followup actions

OCLC and RLG Programs: preview of coming attractions
Chip Nilges and Matt Goldner, OCLC

Karen Smith-Yoshimura and Merrilee Proffitt, RLG Programs

Questions and answers

Discussion of possible actions for followup, wrapup

Symposium goals

  • Leverage the collective expertise in RLG Partner institutions to identify what is needed, from a user's point of view, to make the discovery and delivery of resources for research as seamless as possible.
  • Identify pragmatic approaches that could be applied regionally, nationally, or multi-nationally.
  • Following the symposium, identify the most promising ideas that RLG Programs can explore together with RLG Partners staff and the OCLC Office of Research.


  • Research libraries need to adapt to the evolving information ecosystem, facing new competitors and finding new kinds of symbiosis.
  • Research libraries need to serve users wherever they are, regardless of discovery mechanisms, which is usually through search engines and not through the library.
  • We should strive to deliver collections and services seamlessly, even transparently. It should not be of concern if our users are not aware of us, but we need ways to quantify value for those who hold the purse strings (provosts et al.).


  • Synthesize (aka aggregation)—Libraries disclose/expose collections.
  • Specialize—Institutions customize for group and local solutions, including delivery of materials, print or digital. "Optimum delivery" environment will be a function of the user's rights, affiliations, and purpose determined at the local level.
  • Mobilize—Syndicate and get services into the flow.

Questions about the symposium outcomes? Contact Merrilee Proffitt or Karen Smith-Yoshimura, RLG Programs.