Database Selection Process

                    Libraries Connect Ohio (LCO), a partnership of OPLIN, OhioLINK, and INFOhio, built off the previous success of prior 5-year contracts to select the products in the current five-year statewide resource package which will start July 1, 2018. The five-year contract ensures optimal pricing from vendors. The selection process began in July of 2017. In that month, heads of the partner organizations met to set a project budget. A steering committee of three staff members from each partner organization was formed in order to guide the process. In the following month, that steering committee recruited and appointed five members from their respective communities to a database selection committee, joined by one person appointed by the State Library.  
                    In order to get a wide range of bids, the steering committee set broad parameters for proposals:
                                          “High-quality full-text databases or resources that cover general purpose information needs including general reference materials, business, consumer health information, news, and current affairs interest; High-quality full-texts databases or resources that cover academic curricula in upper level high school and undergraduate higher education, covering subjects such as literature, the social sciences, the sciences, health sciences, and other general education requirements; High-quality full-text databases or resources that support workforce development, career choice, and lifelong learning and certifications, including languages, test prep, etc.; High-quality full-text technical databases, materials, or collections of manuals that are of interest to a wide audience, both DIY and the trades and professions; Products related to developing early literacy skills and the reading proficiency of K-3rd graders; Full-text primary source collections of interest to a wide audience; Associated products and software of general applicability to the constituents that help deliver relevant library content, such as link resolvers, discovery layers, tutoring platforms, etc.”
                    In addition, the steering committee worked to set mandatory service elements in the RFP as well as primary and secondary service elements.   The RFP was posted by the Ohio State University, acting as fiscal agent for LCO, on September 12, 2017. Responses were due by October 11, 2017. Vendors were required to use a response form designed to align with the specifications outlined in the RFP.
                    Twenty-one (21) information vendors submitted proposals for over 60 products and product packages by the October 11 deadline.  These proposals covered a very broad range of subject areas and formats. Communicating by a closed email list, the selection committee then reviewed the submitted proposals.  The selection committee broken in to subcommittees by library type to review proposal documents and test product performance through temporary access provided by the vendors.  The goal of each subcommittee was to prioritize and review proposals using a standardized form based on the criteria outlined in the RFP. This standardized form assigned a numeric value to the review to assist in prioritization.
                    The selection committee then met in person on November 13, 2017 to discuss all the proposals and select vendors and products for further negotiation.  The day began by each subcommittee reporting out the scoring given to products and product packages. Using this scoring system allowed the committee to focus on those products which were ranked the highest. Using this system eliminated approximately half the products and product packages. The committee then dissected the product packages and discussed the priority of the component parts. By the end of the day, a prioritized list of products was decided, even though the cost of the products in the list exceeded the available funds.  OhioLINK then immediately began the process of negotiating lower prices where possible, and weeding out some lower-priority products, in order to meet the budget constraints.
                    The selection committee next met for an online update on February 5, 2018. In this session, OhioLINK updated the selection committee on the progress of the negotiations. Not all pricing goals were met. Thus, the selection committee faced some difficult decisions for which products to include in the final proposal. Each subcommittee articulated the needs of their community. Based on this information, OhioLINK continued to negotiate with vendors to get the best price possible. Another update call was held on February 21, 2018. At this meeting, a vote was held to approve the suite of resources. The suite was unanimously approved by the selection committee.
                    The final results of this selection process, and the negotiations were presented on March 15, 2018 to the State Library Board for approval of the LSTA funding component of the budget. The State Library Board voted unanimously in favor of the proposal.