In August 2022, it was announced that the WALDO Executive Board voted to discontinue its 501c3 organization as a discrete entity and will gradually conclude WALDO’s operations during fiscal year (FY) 2023, which ends June 30, 2023. WALDO has been in discussion with Lyrasis since early 2020, with the Board investigating its options to make a change from its then-current fiscal and administrative partner to someone new. After fruitful, thoughtful, and protracted conversations, Lyrasis began its role as a WALDO partner for group purchasing, negotiation, and invoicing as of January 1, 2022.
After the August 2022 announcement of its forthcoming cessation, WALDO again approached Lyrasis about how best to move forward to serve WALDO libraries with minimal disruption. Subsequently, the WALDO Board has entrusted Lyrasis to incorporate most of WALDO’s content licenses into the substantial Lyrasis group licensing program.
The Westchester Academic Library Directors Organization, or WALDO, consortium formed in the 1980s with 13 charter members. Its initial and primary purpose was to promote the sharing of resources and a shared online catalog. WALDO is governed by an executive board of volunteers from the dues-paying charter member libraries, and their decision to discontinue operations was not an easy one.
Over the years, WALDO grew tremendously in both size and scope, creating greater work and oversight for the board, and its purpose shifted to procurement of electronic resources. Simultaneously, the charter member libraries faced shrinking budgets and staff, coupled with institutional closures. As a result, interest in board membership and consortial activities had waned considerably.
In light of this backdrop, as well as the current landscape of vendor consolidation, the WALDO Executive Board felt it was in the best interest of its members to partner with Lyrasis (another 501c3 organization) and to eventually dissolve the WALDO organization.
Lyrasis has proven we can successfully manage WALDO's procurement business and have provided efficiencies through improved communication, greater transparency, and an established member portal. With a dedicated and experienced staff, and a robust infrastructure, Lyrasis is well positioned to negotiate with vendors and publishers to help contain costs -- a major concern for everyone. We also offer additional services and programs, allowing members to engage and collaborate with the larger library community. The WALDO Board is confident that Lyrasis is the right choice.
As the common maxim dictates, the only constant we all face as information professionals is change. This most recent change for the Lyrasis group licensing portfolio program has allowed us to interact with members and non-members alike in new and evolving ways. While approximately 1/3 of WALDO libraries are concurrent Lyrasis members, there are others to whom Lyrasis is less familiar.
With that in mind, Lyrasis would like to take the opportunity to emphasize who our organization is, how we operate, and what we believe, particularly regarding group licensing underneath the leadership of the Content & Scholarly Communication Initiatives (CSCI) and Member Services (MS) teams:
- Lyrasis is a 501c3 non-profit membership organization governed by a Board of Trustees in upper-level leadership positions at academic libraries (e.g., University at Buffalo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and other non-profit organizations (e.g., Ithaka, Invest in Open Infrastructure), who oversee Lyrasis’ mission. Our Board members freely give of their time because they are invested in Lyrasis as an organization that affects positive change. We are pleased to have recently hired a new CEO, John Wilkin, to work with our Board, Lyrasis staff, member libraries, and the wider community; John will begin his new role on December 1, 2022.
- While Lyrasis has a variegated menu of programs and initiatives that serves galleries, libraries, archives, and museums, the Lyrasis bedrock is our mission-driven status, which at its core seeks to build communities of practice and action. Let’s focus on the group licensing program for a moment: Member library interactions with us may appear only transactional, but the advocacy and negotiation for the best possible licensing terms and integration of emerging models (such as Open Access, or OA) that led to each transaction included iterative feedback from member libraries in each content group. For our subscriber groups, we have dedicated outreach, listservs, and community meetings where we interact with group participants for input about their respective needs and institutional requirements and missions. We are working with and for you and by joining us, you join a much larger conversation about library relevancy, efficiency, and sustainability.
- Lyrasis is a trusted and sought-after partner for non-profit organizations and initiatives around the world. In addition to our engagement with vendors and publishers, Lyrasis is deeply involved with community programs and OA programs. Each of these organizations want to partner with us because of their trust in our abilities to help galleries, libraries, archives, and museums remain at the center of scholarship and information management and delivery in the 21st century. As an organization, we are regularly involved in conversations with international consortia to bring to bear our combined leverage against entrenched business practices. Lyrasis is immersed in the broader International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) community as all ICOLC organizations seek to provide that bridge to larger efforts beyond individual libraries’ scope.
- Lyrasis staff have experience and expertise that runs the gamut across all areas of information management and delivery. We have people working at Lyrasis who have experience at consortia and academic institutions of all sizes and shapes as well as those who have worked for vendors and content providers. We know this space from soup to nuts and have vertical and horizontal knowledge of business models and license negotiation across the spectrum. Not only do we have demonstrated experience, but we also believe in what we do. For example, each decision the CSCI team makes is guided daily by their values and principles.
While this post has mostly focused on the group licensing program as it relates to the WALDO transition, by no means is that all we do. We provide grant and learning opportunities and research, technology services, consulting, and much more. At our core, we maintain we can accomplish more together than alone, and we invite you to join us in our endeavors.