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Brokering Resource Sharing Requests

25 Jul '17

For some months, we at Index Data have been thinking and talking to different communities about leveraging the FOLIO architecture as a base for a suite of apps and plugins to support resource sharing (i.e. interlibrary loan and document delivery) between libraries and across different ILSes. This could be a modular, component-oriented alternative to monolithic request brokering systems.

At the heart of such a solution would be a model (schema) for a resource sharing request and a mechanism for modeling a group of collaborating libraries. Depending on the preferences and capabilities of each library, functions (plugins, apps) could include

  • Simple web/email-based message passing
  • ISO ILL-based exchanges with other request brokers
  • NCIP/SIP interactions with ILSes in lending and borrowing libraries
  • Patron identification e.g. for patron-initiated ILL
  • Gateways for proprietary APIs
  • Request management, tracking, and reporting/metrics

In addition to making use of the platform and app-store, it seems likely that a resource sharing brokerage could make use of specific data models and apps of the current FOLIO roadmap, such as loan rules, permissions model, the codex (to support cross-library discovery), etc.

I’m working on a longer description of these ideas in the form of a whitepaper, but I’d be interested in exploring these ideas further with anyone interested.


31 Jul '17

I’m excited to hear this is being considered!

Here’s a wild idea. Would it be too crazy to consider using some kind of block chain system (a la bitcoin) to track ILL transactions?

31 Jul '17

Here’s a wild idea. Would it be too crazy to consider using some kind of block chain system (a la bitcoin) to track ILL transactions?

Somewhat of a mind-bending question, this. My immediate thought when reading this was, what would be the value proposition since resource sharing brokers tend to be relatively central systems, often operated on behalf of a consortium. But my next thought was, why exactly should they be? Your proposal might be a solution in search of a problem, but it’s a pretty interesting problem to consider… if we contemplate building a new solution in the space, let’s also take the time to challenge historical assumptions about how these things are done – not just replace existing solutions with something that has a nicer architecture.

A lot of people coming to FOLIO have challenged the project to pursue mechanisms that would allow libraries to work effectively together without requiring expensive central infrastructure or organizations.

I confess that when I think of a request broker my mind have naturally gone to a centralized switchboard. I’d sure be curious to explore what a fully decentralized solution might look like (I think that’s the problem your solution is searching for), and how you might reasonably model consortial policies in such a space, as well as accommodating libraries running different library management platforms.

The art of getting stuff done sometimes requires compromise… but it’s sure worth it to explore whether in this case, a central consortial solution is the right compromise, or just intellectual inertia. :wink:

Thanks for the brain-teaser Ben… what’s next? What do you see as the key ‘win’ in a blockchain approach?

6 Sep '17

Thanks for the thoughtful reply Sebastian. Your thoughts and concerns seem spot on. I confess I don’t know enough about block chain systems to begin to address this, but had been chatting with someone about it and thought I’d throw it out there. One problem that I would foresee is the issue of privacy. With library fundamentals seeking to protect the privacy of it’s users I’d think only a truly anonymous block chain system would be acceptable, and then perhaps not workable for an ILL situation?

6 Feb '18

Just came across this and remembered our blockchain discussion and though I’d share the link: http://www.library20.com/page/blockchain

They mention libraries using BC for tracking author credentials which seems a more straightforward use for a public BC system.

Still, not sure how relevant this is to FOLIO at this point…

7 Feb '18

Thanks for the heads-up! Yeah, it’s still not entirely clear where BC fits in. To me, the promise seems to be of a much more robust approach to tracking provenance for all kinds of things in a decentral way. It’s enticing to think that we can run large-scale consortial systems without a central hub by relying on technologies like BC. Maybe the applications are clearer in shared acquisitions and financial management than in resource sharing, but it would be really interesting to prototype something!

13 Jun '18

I’m really interested in being part of this conversation as it continues. I also attended the Block Chain webinar and I’m eager to think through the structure of Resource Sharing in a bigger way. I think the open source arena is a great place to do that.