Open sourcelibrary resource sharing
ReShare is a collection of apps to help libraries lend out resources across institutions — i.e. allow a user from one library to request to borrow a book from another library, to then pick up the material at their own library. We are responsible for the user experience and user interface design of the product.
Working with Samhæng on this project, the word that comes to mind is transformational.
Allen Jones · Director, Digital Library & Technical Services, The New School
I have been amazed at Samhæng’s ability to grasp the complexities and nuances of our processes, and the hands-on approach they’ve taken to ensure that new solutions will solve our real problems.
Jill Morris · Executive Director, PALCI
Working with Samhæng on our UX design has been an amazing experience.
Kristin Walker · Resource Delivery Librarian, Uni. of Texas at Austin
About this project
ReShare is an open source resource sharing initiative established in 2018. Its members are software development companies as well as independent libraries and library consortia representing a total of more than 800 school, public, academic and specialized libraries in USA and Canada. Member institutions include PALCI, GWLA, MCLS, UChicago, MSU, Lehigh University, TAMU, Internet Archive and more.
The market for resource sharing software — i.e. software that allow libraries to request and supply materials across different institutions — has traditionally been dominated by commercial actors. This poses challenges for the flexibility of the existing software and puts a division between the institutions using the software and the decision makers who decide on features, priorities and policies for the software.
With the ReShare project, the purpose has been to create a community-owned modular resource sharing platform that can be adapted to fit the needs of the individual institutions. Through co-design, close dialogue and prototype testing with subject matter experts and users from member institutions, we have helped form a vision for a suite of resource sharing applications built to run on the FOLIO platform, allowing for potential, close integration with other apps running on the FOLIO LSP.
To learn about the workflows of the libraries that would be using the ReShare software, we looked into existing literature on the topic, provided by the project participants. We also conducted research visits to the various member institutions participating in the project: Northwestern University Libraries; University of Chicago Libraries; The New School Libraries; New York University Library; Saint John’s University Libraries; and Villanova University Libraries. The visits and conversations with users and experts at these institutions gave us a look into the world of resource sharing and helped us understand how things were being done, how they might be optimized and provided a tangible overview of all the different systems the ReShare software had to interact with or take into account. During this part of the process, we also took a deep dive into the provisional definition of the desired workflow worked out by project members.
With some background knowledge about the project, we started working with end users to define how the flow of ReShare would function, and which steps it would entail for end users. This was done through an iterative sketching out of the interlibrary loan process, discussed with strategic members and experts from participant institutions.
The ReShare project is structured in various groups intended for each their purpose: A steering committee to approve funding and high level decisions; a product management special interest group (SIG) to decide on features of the product and their priorities; and a subject matter expert (SME) SIG to define the details of the software in collaboration with designers and developers.
With smaller groups of experts from the SME SIG and product management SIG, we sketched out the rough layouts and flows of the many different apps needed to support the workflows of resource sharing departments of member institutions. With participants being geographically disparate, the meetings were virtual, with a designer continuously sketching out potential layouts in collaboration with the SMEs, who would then provide feedback, resulting in ensuing sketches until a good result was reached for each workflow. These sketches were then turned into prototypes for further discussion in the large groups of experts, and consequent testing at ReShare member institutions. Based on the conversations and testing, we adapted the design to address the issues we discovered with the design, and assisted the project product owner and developers in continuously refining and tweaking the design as needed.