DDG Purpose & History

The East Coast Relais Consortium (ECRC), was established in the Spring of 1999. Richard H. Ellis (Memorial University), Bill Maes (Dalhousie University) and John Teskey (University of New Brunswick, Fredericton) all agreed that a shared document delivery/interlibrary loan system would "make better utilization of our existing collections and would enhance resource sharing within the region." Resource sharing being one of the key tenets of the Council of Atlantic University Librarians' Atlantic Scholarly Information Network initiative, the decision was made to consortially purchase Relais International's document delivery system. Relais International is a Canadian company based in Ottawa.

The system allows all requests sent to any of the ECRC libraries from any client library to be automatically searched against the participating libraries online catalogues, routed to a holding library and then filled via the holding library's Relais scanning station. The system monitors the requests and facilitates the management of statistics and billing. The shared system is run from a central server at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

In order to implement the system an administrative framework was established. The three University Librarians formed the Executive Committee. The document delivery and systems representatives from each participating library formed the Implementation and Systems Teams. The original member libraries were Memorial's Queen Elizabeth II, Health Sciences and Fisheries libraries, Dalhousie's Killam and Kellogg libraries, University of New Brunswick (Fredericton)'s Harriet Irving library and University of New Brunswick (St.John)'s Ward Chipman library.

The Implementation Team members first met in December 1999 in St.John's. The team came to agreement on loan policies, messaging methods, statistical categories and billing policies. A shared client database also needed to be created. Five of the member libraries had existing client databases in Aviso and the Alberta Relais Consortium (ARC) already had a joint client library database. The team amalgamated and edited those six library databases into a single database of 3500 "clean" records. Standards for entering new libraries into the database were also established.

During the spring and summer of 2000 Relais International implemented changes to the system and the first version 2.0 migrated into Version 3.0. Testing of the revised system took place in the fall and on December 4, 2000 the East Coast Relais Consortium went live.

In February 2001 meetings were held in St.John's. At these meeting the team agreed to have requests which entered the system automatically route to any holding library rather than directly to the library to which it was addressed. Processing turnaround standards were also established. The goal was (and still is) to maximize the fill rates for our client libraries within the shortest amount of time possible. Agreement was also reached on a common fee structure, on recommended guidelines for any new ECRC member libraries and on holding annual ECRC meetings in conjunction with the APLA Conference.

The first Annual Meeting was held in Charlottetown prior to the APLA Conference. That summer the original members implemented Version (3.2) and Acadia University joined the consortium and began testing the system. On October 1st Acadia's Vaughan library went live with Relais. At the annual meeting in June 2002 representatives from Mt.Allison University and the University of Prince Edward Island participated as the newest consortium members. UPEI's Robertson library and Mt.Allison's Ralph Pickard Bell library went live with the system early in October 2002.

During the fall of 2002 the team tested and implemented new enhancements to 3.2 and in February 2003 implemented Version 3.8 lending. Université de Moncton and other Novanet libraries are expected to join the consortium during the Summer and Fall of 2003.

4.1 Borrowing, to be implemented later in 2003, will include not only the lending side of document delivery but will encompass the searching and management needs of the borrowing side as well. Any Z39.50 catalogue or ISO ILL compliant system including Amicus and OCLC will be able to be searched via Relais for library holdings. The resulting locations will be able to be selected and requests sent automatically to the selected locations. Web request forms will also be made available for ECRC client libraries and individual patrons.

The system's potential role in resource sharing in the region is exciting. The future combination of the Relais system, the new NISO Circulation standard, ILL ISO protocol and the CAUL Atlantic Scholarly Information Network Virtual Union Catalogue intiative will enable our library patrons to seamlessly search our catalogues, databases and the internet, locate items they need, be verified through their Circulation record and then be able to place requests for the items. The requests will be auto- routed through the system and filled by an ECRC library or an external supplier. The item will then be delivered to either the ECRC library of their choice or, copyright law or technology changes permitting, delivered directly to their desktop.