Those of our subscribers who have been with us for a while know that LLMC-Digital got its start under the tutelage of the University of Michigan’s Scholarly Publishing Office, that university’s digital publishing center. Michigan had good credentials as an incubator for fledgling library-oriented websites, having served in that role prior to our arrival most famously for JSTOR. As with JSTOR, the LLMC stint with Michigan was both necessary and rewarding. They helped us to get on our feet. However, by 2007, we were the biggest car in Michigan’s garage and had outgrown their infrastructure. It was becoming clear that, if the Michigan infrastructure was to be built up to needful levels, we would have to pay for it. So we began looking around for a technical partnership situation where we would be the caboose on the train, not the engine of growth.

Our search brought us to National Business Systems (NBS), a national firm headquartered at Egan, MN. NBS had no record as a host of digital libraries, but it was a national player in the business of serving banks and other big financial institutions. And it wanted to experiment with transferring its technical expertise into the digital library business. We were willing to serve as its prototype for several reasons. One, we hoped that NBS’s strong motivation to succeed would redound to our benefit. And two, on the infrastructure front, we were betting that the banks and other financial institution customers would, both insist that NBS stay in front of the advancing technology curve, and be willing to pay for it; taking us along for the ride. It was a bit of a risk on both sides, but the auguries were good. In July of 2008 we bit the bullet and signed on for a 5-year partnership.[1]


Of course, NBS will have to speak for itself, but it is safe to say that LLMC has grown and prospered during the first quinquennial phase of this partnership. While our membership has expanded greatly, and our collections have exploded, NBS has been able to absorb and competently handle all of our growth. Technical breakdowns have been mercifully few, and the complexity of the web site has been fine tuned in a great number of ways, many of them of great utility, if not always visibility, to our users. Finally, “backroom” functions at both our headquarters in Hawaii, and in our cataloging center at Saint Louis Univ. Law Library, have become much more efficient with the help of NBS.


Nevertheless, in their exercise of due diligence, while reviewing the case for a 5-year contract renewal, which has just occurred, the LLMC Directors did ask for several significant enhancements. On the financial front, in recognition of improvements in technology and trends in the industry, we were able to negotiate some substantial unit-price reductions both for image storage and for the digitization from film functions performed for us by NBS. The result will be a significant shift of available resources into more scanning that may result in as much as a 15 to 20% increase in our annual image production. The other major request from the Board to NBS was that it launch the second quinquennial phase with a major enhance-ment of the interface of LLMC-Digital. That brings us to our final report.

[1] The story of LLMC’s transition over to the partnership with NBS, our stated reasons for making the move, and our expectations, were detailed in the following issues of this newsletter: Interim report, Issue #28, Feb. 22, 2008, pp. 1-2; and Final report, Issue #32, Sept. 29, 2008, pp. 1-3.