May 23, 2018

Ryan Litsey | Movers & Shakers 2016 – Tech Leaders

Ryan Litsey


Associate Librarian, Document Delivery,
Texas Tech University Libraries, Lubbock


MLIS, Florida State University, Tallahassee, 2010; MA, Political Science, California State University, Northridge, 2005


Photo by Ryan Burns, Texas Tech University Libraries

Occam’s Reader

All things being equal, the simplest interlibrary loan (ILL) process is usually the best. That’s the idea behind Occam’s Reader, a software add-on for the OCLC ILLiad work flow solution that makes it possible for academic libraries to “loan” ebooks electronically to one another for easy access by students and researchers.

Developed by and hosted at Texas Tech University (TTU) under the leadership of document delivery librarian Ryan Litsey, Occam’s Reader underwent a successful yearlong pilot in 2014–15 with TTU, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the Greater Western Library Alliance consortium.

Last fall the TTU team, including Occam’s Reader cocreator/programmer Kenny Ketner, announced OBILLSK, the Online Based Inter-Library Loan Statistical Kit, which enables near real-time tracking of ILL transactions among participating libraries. Gathering this data and presenting it in attractive reports via a responsive design web application will help librarians identify and address ILL bottlenecks, streamline work flows, assess courier services, set and monitor benchmarks, compare activity at similar libraries, and demonstrate effectiveness to administrators.

Nominator Mary Hollerich, Augsburg College library director, notes that Litsey “has that rare ability to identify creative solutions for problems that many [have] already given up on, or for problems that [have] not yet been identified.” These projects, she says, “have the potential to improve ILL and document delivery services on a global scale.”

Litsey modestly describes the development of Occam’s Reader and OBILLSK as just part of his job. “As an ILL librarian that means I need to get students the resources they need when they need them. In order to accomplish this, I continually keep an eye out for new opportunities or methods of resource sharing…. This can include developing new methods or technologies for delivery and access.”

The TTU team is currently rolling out Occam’s Reader 2.0. Looking ahead, Litsey says they are exploring ways in which the program might be used for time-limited access to digitized special collections content or other noncirculating items. And even though OBILLSK is still in its pilot test phase with 35 libraries nationwide, Litsey and Ketner are already using predictive analytics to examine whether OBILLSK data could be applied to anticipate ILL requests. The next step, Litsey says, “is to get the resources [to students] before they know they want them.”

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.