In 2013, RAILS began researching a potential project to provide library users with seamless access to the catalogs of RAILS consortia and standalone libraries that choose to participate. RAILS called this an overlay project to emphasize that the goal was to expand resource sharing by connecting, not replacing, existing integrated library systems. In late 2017, the project was named Find More Illinois.
The overlay project had three research phases, with phases one and two guided by the Overlay Project Working Group and phase three conducted by the Overlay Software Search Working Group. Both working groups were subcommittees of the RAILS Consortia Committee.
Environmental Scan of Resource Sharing Overlay Products (Phase One)
Phase one was an environmental scan of resource sharing overlay products in use in other states. RAILS contracted with Lori Bowen Ayre of the Galecia Group to do this study, which focused on exploring resource sharing projects already in use in other states that linked libraries of different types and various integrated library systems.
Ms. Ayre presented her results at the Consortia Committee meeting on December 9, 2013. The study included four different products:
- Relais D2D
- WorldCat Navigator
Ms. Ayre also described the components, advantages, and limitations of NCIP, the NISO Circulation Interchange Protocol.
Ms. Ayre updated her presentation following questions at the meeting. The revised presentation, her final report, and addendum to the report are posted below.
Additional information about NCIP is available in Mary Jackson's article, "Staff cost savings from implementing the NISO Circulation Interchange Protocol (NCIP)," published in the Fall 2011 issue (v. 23, issue 4) of Information Standards Quarterly. This article is also included in the environmental scan final report posted below.
Research into Organizational Factors (Phase Two)
Phase two gathered input about what RAILS members would like to have in an overlay product and identified organizational factors such as governance, administration, finance, staff workload, and resource sharing policies and viewpoints that might affect the success of the project. In the first half of 2015, Eric Craymer, President of Growth Management Consulting, Inc., gathered this input through multiple focus groups, webinars, and a survey. On July 20, he presented his analysis and recommendations to a joint meeting of the Consortia Committee and Consortia Futures Subcommittee. His presentation and final report are posted below.
In 2015, RAILS also contracted with Joe Mathews of JRM Consulting, Inc. for an environmental scan of OCLC alternatives. Although this study focused on cataloging, it also included some information and recommendations on interlibrary loan. One recommendation stated that "a state-of-the-art RAILS regional catalog/ILL system should be created for interested member libraries as envisioned by the overlay project that will provide both discovery and fulfillment."
Jane Plass, RAILS Associate Executive Director, conducted multiple interviews with staff from similar projects in other states in spring 2015 and summer 2017. In January 2016, the Overlay Project Working Group held an informative discussion with staff from various interlibrary loan and resource sharing projects in other states.
Software Search (Phase Three)
One recommendation from Eric Craymer's report was to begin with a small pilot project, and the Overlay Project Working Group agreed. The working group also asked Deirdre Brennan (RAILS Executive Director) and Jane Plass (RAILS Associate Executive Director) to meet with each shared catalog consortium to invite participation in the pilot project, beginning with participation in the software search. (LINC, MAGIC, SWAN, and RAILS representatives later mutually agreed not to extend the invitation to these three consortia, as discussions about their future consolidation were already in progress.) The meetings with the consortia were held in early 2016, and CARLI, PrairieCat, and Rock River Library Consortium agreed to participate in the software search.
The Overlay Software Search Working Group first met in August 2016 and began developing a request for proposal (RFP). The RFP was released on January 30, 2017, with proposals due on March 3. Three vendors submitted proposals: Auto-Graphics for its SHAREit system, Innovative Interfaces for its Innovative Resource Sharing system (formerly called INN-Reach), and OCLC for Relais D2D. The evaluation process included:
- Scoring the business and technical proposals based on sections in the RFP
- Full-day demonstrations by each vendor in May 2017. These were open to staff from any Illinois library and were held at RAILS Burr Ridge with remote viewing by live streaming. The demonstrations were also recorded for later viewing for those who could not attend the live sessions. Participants were asked to submit their scores and comments.
- Requesting and reviewing clarifications on the vendor proposals
- Requesting, reviewing, and clarifying best and final offers from the vendors
At its final meeting on July 11, 2017, the Overlay Software Search Working Group recommended directing RAILS staff to begin contract negotiations with Auto-Graphics for use of its SHAREit software. The RAILS Board approved this recommendation on October 27, 2017. Contract negotiations began in November 2017 and concluded in January 2018.