Cornell University Library's Olin and Uris Libraries in the snow. 

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Library-lending partnership gets a reboot

Since its beginnings in 1999, the reciprocal-lending service among Ivy Plus libraries known as Borrow Direct has grown into an interlibrary collection that’s 90-million-volumes strong. On Dec. 13, Borrow Direct upgraded to a new open-source software system.

The Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation (IPLC) coordinated the launch of the software called ReShare Returnables developed by Project ReShare, a community of libraries, consortia, software developers, and open source advocates.

With improvements over time, the new software is meant to enhance Borrow Direct’s catalog interface and make it easier for students, faculty, and staff at Cornell and other partner institutions to discover, request, and receive physical library materials.

“We are confident that this will be a smooth transition for Cornell scholars,” said Caitlin Finlay, head of interlibrary services and Borrow Direct at Cornell University Library.

“The biggest changes will take place behind the scenes, so most people won’t notice any changes at all immediately,” she said. “But, in the long run, everyone will experience a better overall Borrow Direct experience.”

The switch to a library-community owned software system is a step toward a more sustainable direction for Borrow Direct, according to Andy Horbal, director of access services at Cornell University Library.

“Open-source, community-owned platforms like ReShare and FOLIO give libraries a say in how the products we use every day should be developed, as opposed to vendors having all the power,” Horbal said.

Members of IPLC are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton University, Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.

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