Article was originally posted at UKSG Insights.


The International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) has its origins in informal discussion and meetings held 2 decades ago. The organization has been a steady presence in the library world as the need and demand for collaboration increased due to changes in educational funding and technology. Early consortial leaders are retiring now at a rapid pace. Current leaders are discussing ICOLC’s organizational structure and goals with the consortial community to maintain the standard of excellence and effectiveness that has existed since its inception. The current environment provides opportunities for greater collaboration at higher scale.


The organization known today as the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) arose in the mid-1990s out of a need for newly formed consortia to exchange ideas and address issues of common concern. These consortia were usually created either to provide a shared central library catalog for their member libraries or to leverage their group strength to negotiate custom deals for electronic journals. The key issues for consortia in these early years concerned the licensing of electronic journals and working with publishers to make the transition to online content smoother for libraries. Consortia staff drafted, discussed, shared and negotiated license clauses to achieve desired results. Publishers and vendors were invited to have conversations with the group, and early discussions were spirited and productive. Across the next two decades the organization grew to include over 200 library consortia worldwide, many with expanded programs that now include additional types of services for their member institutions.