NEOS is a cooperative library consortium, established in 1994, consisting of nineteen government, hospital, college and university libraries throughout Alberta. NEOS member libraries engage in many activities, including, but not limited to: the creation and maintenance of a shared on-line integrated library system; a shared patron database; onsite services such as reciprocal borrowing and reference services; off site services such as patron-initiated circulation requesting and interlibrary loan supported by a document delivery distribution service; collaborative electronic database/bulk purchase initiatives; and shared continuing education/staff development activities.
NEOS is a cooperative consortium of member libraries providing access to information in a cost effective manner. It does so through the sharing of people, technology, collections and other resources. In doing so, NEOS provides a strong voice for its members and its clients.
NEOS: a dynamic and evolving model for library cooperation and resource sharing
Benefits of NEOS Membership:
1. For Clients:
- “One place to look” – an information window providing access to the holdings of NEOS member libraries on one online public access catalogue. The NEOS Library Consortium Catalogue, containing over five million items, is accessible via the web at:
- Onsite access to members’ collections. Primary clients of one NEOS member can go onsite at another NEOS library, borrow library materials and obtain basic reference service.
- Offsite access to library materials. A patron initiated request function is available via the NEOS Library Consortium Catalogue. Primary clients can request a book online from the Catalogue and select the most convenient pick-up location. Books may be returned to any NEOS library.
- Document delivery service. NEOS libraries participate in a document delivery distribution service ensuring efficient pickup and delivery of library materials.
- Priority interlibrary loan. Primary clients of NEOS libraries can place requests, through their interlibrary loan departments, for journal articles from other NEOS libraries.
2. For Member Libraries:
2.1 Integrated Library System (ILS):
- Sharing an integrated library system eliminates the need for individual NEOS member libraries to select, mount, manage and upgrade a singly owned library system. NEOS’ integrated library system is housed and managed at the University of Alberta. NEOS libraries contribute annually to costs associated with the integrated library system. Costs for a comparable system and staff costs associated with management of such a system would be out of the reach of most small and medium-sized libraries.
- Access to copy cataloguing sources and utilities (SmartPort provides access to LC MARC and LC Authorities as well as to other sources for copy cataloguing). The shared library automation platform integrates and streamlines technical service applications, including cataloguing, acquisitions and serials.
- Networking opportunities through NEOS committees allow staff of NEOS libraries to discuss and address work-flow questions associated with the integrated library system.
2.2 Access to Collections:
- Access to the second largest academic resource in Canada. The NEOS Library Consortium Catalogue contains over 5 million items and is second only in size to the University of Toronto’s library catalogue. Items in the NEOS Library Consortium Catalogue may be requested directly by primary clients and picked up and dropped off at the most convenient NEOS library for the client.
- Document delivery distribution service. NEOS has a document delivery distribution service located at the Book and Record Depository (BARD), University of Alberta. NEOS libraries connect directly to the BARD using either commercial courier or their own institutional van. As the connection is direct to the BARD, libraries are able to use bins to transport library materials. The use of bins has allowed staff to flag books rather than package each item separately, resulting in cost savings relating to staff time spent on this activity.
- Cost savings for interlibrary loan. No fees are charged for interlibrary loans among NEOS libraries. Libraries outside of a consortium arrangement often have to pay upwards of $10 for each interlibrary loan request. For libraries requesting large numbers of interlibrary loans, NEOS membership results in tremendous cost savings by member library interlibrary loan departments.
2.3 Political Positioning:
- Heightened awareness of the library through the consortium identity. The NEOS Library Consortium Catalogue is one of the largest in Canada. It is available on the internet at https://catalogue.library.ualberta.ca. Accessibility of member library resources results in heightened awareness of the library, ensuring its place as a vital and dynamic part of the organization.
- Fiscal credibility of the library. NEOS is a collaborative venture and succeeds due to the efforts of its members. The success of NEOS can be offered to government funding agencies as a model that, during a time of fiscal restraint, librarians are creatively collaborating to achieve cost savings.
2.4 Continuing Education/Networking Activities for Staff:
- Training on the ILS system. NEOS offers training on the integrated library system for new members joining the Consortium. Training is also provided, as necessary, for system upgrades.
- Networking opportunities. NEOS has committees comprised of staff of member libraries. These committees focus on particular functions of the integrated library system. Staff meet to cooperatively develop standards for use of the integrated library system and to share information arising from their work on the system. NEOS committees also collaborate to develop initiatives relating to document delivery, communication, continuing education and collection development, thus ensuring that member libraries have input into areas of common interest.
- Continuing education opportunities. NEOS offers an annual one day mini-conference for staff of NEOS libraries. In addition, workshops on specific topics are offered during the year. Speakers provide information on library technologies and practices of interest to staff.