NC Cardinal: sharing library resources and expanding opportunities 2

NC Cardinal: North Carolina's consortial ILS

NC Cardinal: North Carolina’s consortial ILS

NC Cardinal is a consortium of North Carolina public libraries that share an online catalog and integrated library system (ILS), and share resources with other member libraries.  The program’s mission is to maintain and continually develop a working, efficient, and sustainable ILS for public libraries and library staff within North Carolina. It is a program of the State Library of North Carolina, supported by grant funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Federal Library Services and Technology Act. The State Library of North Carolina supports this consortium by providing initial startup/migration funding to join the consortium and after migration, funding for State Library consultants to facilitate system support, workshops, training, project management guidance, and consortium oversight on a variety of cataloging and circulation issues. NC Cardinal has been operating since July 2010.

The State Library’s goals for the project are:

  • to create a single vision for North Carolina libraries that have varying policies and workflows;
  • to provide an alternative to higher-priced third party ILS vendors;
  • to enable public libraries to re-allocate their monies from financially supporting an ILS to other, patron-focused needs;
  • to enable resource sharing among participating libraries; and
  • to more effectively and efficiently support library patron needs between participating libraries, expanding their library use in terms of greater offerings and services.

Consortium Advantages

One of the most exciting aspects of NC Cardinal is the sharing of items across our state. More than 60,000 items move among the member libraries each month. Resource sharing, which launched in February 2013, has had two immediate impacts on patrons: (1) member libraries have seen hold request wait times cut from an average of 6.5 days to 1.8 days, and (2) patrons now have access to numerous materials they previously didn’t. Each morning, NC Cardinal libraries pull a list of hold requests from the ILS, package these items, and ship them to their partner libraries in the consortium through a shared shipping account. Patrons of member libraries enjoy this service at no cost.

One of the most practical advantages to being part of the NC Cardinal consortium is the leveraging of LSTA funds to improve efficiency and provide cost savings to the libraries. All expenses associated with NC Cardinal were initially funded through an LSTA project. A consortium pricing structure is being implemented that will provide sustainability and cost sharing. The cost of joining and the first two years membership in the  NC Cardinal consortium is funded. An annual cost share for continued membership is determined based upon the size of the library’s collection and patron base. Under this pricing structure, each library will find annual savings between 30% and 80%, with a median of about 58%, compared to the costs of its previous ILS.

Other NC Cardinal consortium advantages:

  • Collaborative collection development
  • Open source community – ability to direct and customize ILS system
  • Responsibility of ILS support shifted to State Library
  • Opportunity for participating in advisory/steering committees; greater authority:
    • Three existing task forces: Governance, Cataloging, and Resource Sharing
    • Plans for a fourth task force on Reports
    • Consortium pricing on various vendor services (future goal)
    • Shared electronic resource management (future goal)

By the Numbers

NC Cardinal current statistics include…

  • 19 library systems (roughly 1/4 of our 80 public library systems)
  • 93 branch locations
  • 26 counties and 2 municipalities
  • 9.7 million North Carolinians served
  • 4.2 million library items
  • 8 million circulations to date
  • 370,000 transits among member libraries (in the first 6 months alone!)

Current Members

  • Albemarle Regional Library (Bertie, Gates, Hertford, and Northampton counties)
  • Appalachian Regional Library (Ashe, Watauga, and Wilkes counties)
  • BHM Regional Library (Beaufort, Hyde, and Martin counties)
  • Buncombe County Library
  • Caldwell County Public Library
  • Caswell County Public Library
  • Cleveland County Library
  • Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center
  • Davidson County Public Library
  • Davie County Public Library
  • Farmville Public Library—Pitt County
  • Fontana Regional Library (Jackson, Macon, and Swain counties)
  • Forsyth County Public Library
  • Franklin County Library
  • Haywood County Library
  • Lee County Public Library
  • Mauney Memorial Library—Kings Mountain
  • McDowell County Public Library
  • Wayne County Public Library


NC Cardinal’s ILS system is called Evergreen, an open source ILS used by more than a thousand libraries around the world. Evergreen provides a public catalog interface as well as management back-of-house operations such as circulation, cataloging, reports, acquisition, and sharing resources among groups of libraries.

The Evergreen Project was initiated by the Georgia Public Library System in 2006 to serve its need for a scalable catalog. Evergreen has since been adopted by a number of library consortia and independent libraries in the US and Canada as well as internationally.

Become a Member

Library Directors interested in joining the NC Cardinal consortium may read through the 2014-015 Guidelines and Application (available from this website starting in September 2013).

For more information, please see the NC Cardinal website or contact NC Cardinal staff directly:

2 thoughts on “NC Cardinal: sharing library resources and expanding opportunities

  1. Reply Mary Lou Worley Oct 3,2013 6:32 pm

    As the branch librarian at one of the Fontana Regional Library members, I am dismayed by the refusal of certain consortia members, notably Abermarle, to lend to other consortia members outside their region. Our patrons are often disappointed to see an item show available in an NC Cardinal library that, nevertheless, will not be loaned.
    Does this not defeat the original purpose?

  2. Reply Tanya Prokrym Oct 4,2013 7:15 pm

    Hi Mary Lou,

    I agree that one of the major purposes and benefits of NC Cardinal is resource sharing. Now that we have created the Resource Sharing and Governance Committees, we will be able to really focus on the type of issues you mentioned. Some work has already begun…The Governance Committee members are currently revising the NC Cardinal bylaws to include a resource sharing time frame. The Resource Sharing Committee just met and is discussing what and how to implement consortium-wide policies for circulation and resource sharing.

    Also, please note that Albemarle is planning to start resource sharing with the rest of the consortium in November.

    Thanks for your comment,

    Tanya Prokrym
    NC Cardinal Program Manager

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