Date of this Version
The collective holdings of CARLI’s (Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois) “I-Share” catalog total approximately 32 million items. It is the third largest academic catalog in the United States, however only 76 of CARLI’s 148 academic libraries participate in I-Share. This descriptive survey examined the factors that influenced a CARLI academic library director’s decision to join, or not join, I-Share’s integrated library system. Seventy-seven of the 145 CARLI library directors sampled completed the web-based survey. This represented a 53.1% response rate.
The framework for the survey was designed around three sections; advantages, disadvantages, and obstacles to participating in I-Share. Directors were asked to select the level of importance of I-Share benefits, and their level of agreement to questions regarding the disadvantages and obstacles to participating in I-Share. These questions were based on a Likert scale and assigned numeric values. An independent samples t-test compared I-Share and non I-Share directors’ responses by institution type and collectively. The difference in 11 of 12 comparisons was found to be statistically significant.
Through five open-ended questions, several themes were discovered. Benefits associated with resource sharing were consistently stated as being the most influential factor for I-Share member directors to participate in I-Share. Other important benefits mentioned were I-Share’s value, centralized technical support, and the opportunity to collaborate closely with other libraries.
With non I-Share library directors, reasons not to join I-Share differed with institution types. For some community college library directors, the decision to remain with a local, multi-type library system was based upon the needs of their student populations. Among the reasons given by non I-Share library directors from independent - not for profit institutions was the preference to manage an integrated library system “in-house”. The infrequency of I-Share open enrollment periods, and migration costs associated with unbundling records from a current ILS, were viewed by all survey respondents as being the most serious obstacles to I-Share participation.