Collaborative Librarianship, Vol 4, No 4 (2012)

Innovation & Leadership Through Collaboration – The Orbis Cascade Alliance Experience: An Interview with John Helmer

John F. Helmer, Stephen Bosch, Chris Sugnet, Cory Tucker


The Orbis Cascade Alliance ( is a consortium of 37 academic libraries in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. The Alliance currently serves faculty and the equivalent of more than 258,000 full time students. In addition to its members, the Alliance offers selected services to more than 280 libraries, museums, archives, and historical societies in seven western states. Over the last several years, the Alliance has participated in a variety of collaborative projects including Summit, a system that allows library patrons to search and request library materials owned by Alliance member libraries; the Northwest Digital Archives, providing access to primary sources in the Northwest United States; a distributed print repository; and a demand driven shared ebook program. Recently, the Alliance completed the challenging task of organizing and completing a RFP for a shared Library Management Service and currently, is in the initial stages of implementation. This innovative project has resulted in the Alliance becoming pioneers in embracing the next-generation of library services platforms and serves as an important model for libraries and consortia. More information about the RFP can be located on the Orbis Cascade Alliance Website at Editors of Collaborative Librarianship recently discussed this project with John Helmer.

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