RESPOND: plugging AMICAL’s international
American universities into WorldCat
Library, The American University of Paris and AMICAL, USA
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to substantially update a presentation made at the 2007 IFLA Conference. It intends to describe the RESPOND
project, a partnership between OCLC and the AMICAL consortium to enhance library resource discovery, and to report on initial outcomes.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper describes the background for RESPOND, its key features and interesting challenges, and some of its
expected direct and indirect beneﬁts for the discovery and sharing of resources at AMICAL libraries. Preliminary statistics for group library holdings in
WorldCat and OCLC ILL system use are examined.
Findings – The time required for implementation and adoption of services was greater, and effective training more difﬁcult to organize, than expected.
Resource-sharing performance improvements still need to be measured, and many libraries are just starting to implement the project’s services, but
cooperation appears to be increasing between consortium members. The potential beneﬁts for resource discovery and delivery remain great, and
interest and participation in the project have spread to include nearly all AMICAL consortium members.
Originality/value – AMICAL is an atypical consortium because of its geographically dispersed and highly international membership, but the
challenges and results described here may be relevant to other efforts at international resource sharing and cooperation.
Keywords International cooperation, Purchasing groups, Resource sharing, Higher education, Interlending
Paper type Case study
1. A small experiment in global library
American academic libraries are longstanding proponents of
cooperation and resource sharing, but what happens when
you integrate this and other American higher education
traditions with widely different cultural and educational
environments? American-modeled liberal arts colleges
established outside the USA have been confronted with this
question for decades. Their institutions are locally isolated
because of their English-language instruction, American
curricular and degree models, yet – because of these traits
– predisposed to take advantage of the many and growing
opportunities for international cooperation in the Anglophone
library world. In previous decades, however, the opportunities
for cooperative action have been limited and have rarely
involved more than a handful of these institutions.
AMICAL, the American International Consortium of
Academic Libraries (www.amicalnet.org) is helping to build
bridges of cooperation for these institutions – bridges with
each other, with their North American and Anglophone
colleagues, and with other institutions worldwide. The
“American Universities” belonging to AMICAL hail from
18 countries spanning North and sub-Saharan Africa, the
Middle East, Central Asia, Russia, and Central and Western
Europe. Conceived in 2004, AMICAL is the ﬁrst organized
attempt to bring together American-modeled universities
through the collaborative development of their library and
information services and their curricular resources. One of
AMICAL’s most active projects is Resource Sharing Project
for Network Discovery (RESPOND), a partnership between
AMICAL and OCLC (www.oclc.org) that leverages
participation in OCLC’s WorldCat database in order to
bring these institutions closer together – and closer to their
colleagues in the rest of the world.
1.1 The AMICAL consortium
AMICAL ﬁrst began to take shape as an organization in 2004
after a year of planning led by the American University of
Paris (AUP) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Generous ﬁnancial support from the Mellon Foundation has
helped the consortium to hold annual meetings since then,
hosted in Paris (2004), Beirut (2005), Cairo (2006), Ifrane,
Morocco (2007), and most recently in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria
(2008). AMICAL is unlike the typical consortium in that its
basis for membership has very little to do with geographic
grouping, research specialization, or participation in a pre-
existing organizational structure. AMICAL’s members are
diverse in terms of geographic location, demographic setting
(e.g. urban versus rural), organizational structure and even
the languages used in the work environment.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Interlending & Document Supply
37/2 (2009) 68–75
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited [ISSN 0264-1615]
This article is a substantially revised version of a paper that was ﬁrst
delivered at the Document Delivery and Resource Sharing Section of the
73rd IFLA General Conference in Durban, South Africa, 19-23 August,
Received: 27 January 2009
Accepted: 5 February 2009