Glitches in Statewide System Worry Ohio Librarians

Some librarians in Ohio are worried about the future of one of the nation’s top state resource-sharing networks.

The librarians say that over the past two months they have noticed unusual outages in services run by the Ohio Library and Information Network, or OhioLINK. The group is a consortium of 88 Ohio college and university libraries and the State Library of Ohio. OhioLINK is used both as a way to share university materials online and to negotiate prices for outside resources.

Databases run by OhioLINK have occasionally been temporarily unavailable, frustrating scholars and students doing research.

Victoria Montavon, dean of the University of Cincinnati Libraries, said the problems were worrisome because grant-supported projects run by her library rely on OhioLINK to function, and that outages effectively block users from key archives.

“This is a centerpiece in providing resources. Millions of articles are downloaded across the OhioLINK organization,” Ms. Montavon said, adding that the systems also broker exchanges of physical books. “Something like 700,000 print items travel between libraries [per year]. So it’s a very high-use, high-volume resource between libraries.”

Eric Fingerhut, chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, which runs OhioLINK, said that the outages are temporary, caused as officials attempt to move their systems to the statewide computing network capable of storing more information. He said that the outages should stop completely when the transfer is finished in six to eight months.

Tom Sanville, the longtime executive director of OhioLINK, announced his resignation Tuesday. Mr. Fingerhut said that Mr. Sanville did a good job and that he thought the technological transition was an appropriate time to resign.
Mr. Sanville could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

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