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Members Guide

Onboarding for newcomers and reference for everyone!

Learning About OPAL

Structure & History

We're all about relationships! The Ohio Private Academic Libraries (OPAL) is a consortium of libraries at small independent institutions of higher education in Ohio. As of July 1, 2019, the consortium has 24 participating libraries.

Founded in 1998, OPAL was established so that small private college libraries in Ohio could participate collectively in OhioLINK, to borrow and lend library materials through a shared integrated library system (ILS) rather than joining as individual member libraries. Innovative Interfaces Inc. (III) was the company chosen by OhioLINK for its ILS and is the reason the system is used by OPAL. 

The sharing of materials through the central OhioLINK catalog has been a core service for OhioLINK members. OhioLINK has also provided many other key resources and services, including research databases, an electronic journal center, and digital platforms for books, media, theses & dissertations. Its relationship with SearchOhio has expanded to include access to the collections of public libraries. For a good overview, read OhioLINK's 25th Anniversary: A Concise History 1995-2017

From OPAL’s inception and continuing to the present, OhioNET has provided administrative, project, technical, and hardware support plus other services for OPAL and its libraries. This includes not only the ILS, but also EBSCO’s discovery service, proxy server, EBSCO's Academic eBook Collection, LibGuides, and OPAL Digital Collections (CONTENTdm). OhioNET also assists members with annual statistics reporting for ACRL and IPEDS.

Working Structures

As a consortium, OPAL institutions work together to provide and develop services that respond to identified user needs through a shared online catalog, ongoing strategic planning, collaborative work in OPAL groups and communities of interest, staff development and training, cooperative purchasing opportunities to enrich collections, quality cost-effective innovations in technology, and end user resource sharing.  OPAL holds an annual conference, usually hosted by one of its member libraries.

OPAL library directors and staff are active within the Ohio library community. Directors participate in quarterly OhioLINK meetings and as members of specific elected or appointment committees. OPAL librarians and staff also have opportunities to participate in committees and initiatives such as the OhioLINK Open Textbook Network as well as across a variety of organizations such as ALAO.

OPAL History

OPAL 20th Anniversary Logo