November 21, 2017

Roger Verny | Movers & Shakers 2002

Works Well with Others

“For some reason you can get people in Ohio to cooperate”

Imagine walking into your local library, requesting a book from any other public or school library in your state, and receiving it within 24 hours. A fantasy?

Roger Verny doesn’t think so. “This is where the statewide sharing of resources is taking us,” says Verny. As a deputy state librarian in Ohio, Verny–along with many others, he is quick to add–has been working on the cooperative sharing of resources for years. Several years back OPLIN, the Ohio Public Library Information Network, connected all 250 systems in the state to the Internet. “The connectivity gave people the access to more databases but left us thinking that it would be nice to look at each other’s catalogs,” Verny says. Once that problem had been resolved, “we realized it wasn’t enough to just see people’s catalogs, we needed to give them access to
the material.”

There are regional consortia in Ohio and other states that provide next-day delivery. But when material goes from one network to another, it’s a far greater challenge, Verny says. But despite the challenges, he believes that for access to be meaningful today, it needs to be fast. Under his direction, the state library investigated software that could manage the systems–there are over two dozen online systems in use in Ohio’s libraries–as well as courier services that could guarantee next-day delivery from one end of the state to the other. The result? In 2001, over 250 public and school libraries throughout Ohio began exchanging materials, with patrons generating the requests themselves.

Libraries can be effective in closing the Digital Divide, too, Verny says. “We should provide access to those folks who don’t have access.” Through cooperative resource sharing, Verny sees a world where a middle school student can get books unavailable in his school or community. An
d in a state that has invested heavily in the automation of its school libraries, all those nonprint resources locked away in school media collections will get wider play. Is there a concern among libraries with stronger collections that their holdings will be depleted? Most libraries already have experience in regional networks, Verny says. “Some will just have to take a chance. After all, resource sharing is our tradition.”

Vitals


Current position: Deputy State Librarian–Planning, Evaluation, and Research, State Library of Ohio

Degree: M.Ed. in Educational Media & Technology, University of Toledo

Who knew?: Former coach of the Ohio State University Women’s Hockey Club

Verny’s commitment to employing technology to create a better world for library users is clearly rooted in his experience in medical libraries. His first professional position was as director of the media resources center at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center (UCMC). “Classrooms are often dull, and I thought nonprint resources could make teaching more effective,” he says. Verny went on to direct the health sciences library at UCMC, then the department of education and communications. “They push you,” he says about his former colleagues at UCMC. As he describes it, the medical environment was a creative one, with “the faculty always look[ing] for new ways to use technology.”

Now, Verny isn’t just working with faculty. He says, however, “for whatever reason, you can get people to cooperate in Ohio.” While that may be true, Verny’s personality and dedication are clearly part of the reason for Ohio’s success in cooperation. As Michael Lucas, Ohio’s state librarian says, “Roger himse
lf has put a tremendous amount of time, effort, and energy into bringing together the disparate parts of the Ohio library community to develop statewide resource sharing.”

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