Serials of Illinois Libraries Online

Another computerized union list project was the Serials of Illinois Libraries Online (SILO), developed at Northern Illinois University in 1982. A Library Services and Construction Act grant of $144,941 funded the initiation of the project. Intended as a compliment to OCLC, SILO began as a pilot project to create a statewide union list of serials. SILO was also promoted as an aid to “bibliographic control” of serials. Serials were traditionally hard for librarians to deal with, as their cost and inefficiency led Elaine Rast, the project director of SILO, to label serials as “one of the most difficult aspects of library management.”842

Seventeen libraries were selected for inclusion in SILO at the beginning, with another 60 joining in 1982-83. SILO helped make a new OCLC component, the Serials Control System, a workable tool while also providing customized lists of serials. In addition to increased efficiency of interlibrary loans, SILO helped reciprocal borrowing and resource sharing while allowing “economic benefits from a reduced need to subscribe to seldom-used titles,” since they could be easily accessed through the network. Although it was originally hoped that the State Library would eventually conduct SILO through its ILLINET/OCLC Services office, efforts to transfer the service in 1984 met with failure. As a result, SILO was reorganized in 1985 using LSCA funds, and a “transition phase” to include more members was conducted in 1986 (again with LSCA funds). Finally, SILO was successfully transferred to the State Library in 1987.843

Workers are silhouetted against the magnificent cathedral windows of the State Library building during its construction.

Workers are silhouetted against the magnificent cathedral windows of the State Library building during its construction.

A 1987 survey showed high usage of SILO among its participating OCLC libraries. That same year, it was reported that 328 libraries statewide were members of SILO. By 1990, over 700 libraries were members, creating a database of over 400,000 Local Data Records (LDRs). In 1989, SILO created a union list of the holdings of 114 health science libraries in the system.844