ICOLC Report: Strategies for Collaboration

Information Industry News

Released September 16, 2022

From the Introduction

The ICOLC Strategies for Open Collaboration in Library Consortia Task Force was initially formed to develop strategies for consortia and libraries to interact with vendors and the open source community to address pricing, standards/interoperability, and access challenges. We were charged with developing a report that would:

  • Outline what libraries should do differently in their ongoing relationships with vendors and the open source community.
  • Suggest alternatives to the typical library/vendor model, especially open source/community-owned efforts that address the needs outlined in the report.
  • Articulate a broad vision for how these efforts tie together and provide a framework for libraries to support these projects.

While this report is aimed primarily at library consortia, the strategies described will also be useful for individual libraries. While at times uncomfortable, this inward look and self-assessment, along with a radical shift in how libraries allocate resources, will yield the bracing and clear-eyed vision needed to sustain a strong future for libraries. While vendor-created solutions will always be an important option for libraries, we also need solutions created and managed by libraries. By taking more agency, we can move away from the status quo in which we are beholden to vendors' business interests, priorities, and pricing, to create alternatives in the marketplace where library values and needs are prioritized.

Strategies Proposed and Conclusion

Strategy One – Radically Rethink Our Operations to Build the Future We Need:

Strategy Two – Reframe Contracts for Proprietary Services:

Strategy Three  – Design, Support, and Fund Alternative Solutions Now.


This report has articulated a broad vision for how libraries and consortia should radically rethink operations long-term to build the future we need. We have provided suggestions for immediate steps that we can take – with existing vendors, with the open source community, and with each other – to move us toward that future.

This report is not intended to be a comprehensive list of all open or collaborative initiatives underway. Instead, we hope it will serve as a snapshot in time, illuminating some interesting opportunities and raising awareness of alternative solutions.

We challenge all libraries, especially consortia, to commit immediately to one or more of the strategies recommended in this report.