Shared Integrated Library System (SILS) Negotiation Planning Group


In April 2021, the SILS Task Force submitted a report to the Board with five core recommendations. The first recommendation was to not engage in an RFP process for the SILS due to the lack of viable alternative ILS platforms in either the commercial or open source space. Additionally, the task force found a lack of capacity and desire among Alliance members to undergo a migration in the foreseeable future. The task force recommended that, instead of an RFP process, a negotiation team from the Alliance pursue specific terms in the Alliance’s next contract with Ex Libris. The current contract is set to expire on June 30, 2023.

Regarding the first primary task for the SILS Negotiation Planning Group, the SILS Task Force report recommended that the Alliance undertake an organized process to define and prioritize our needs for the SILS. Preliminary findings from the task force’s research found certain functional areas were of greater importance to members and should therefore be prioritized in Alliance efforts. However, more research needs to be done to define and rank these priorities. Findings from this investigation will be essential to focusing efforts both with general Alliance priorities and specific aspects of a SILS contract negotiation. 

The second primary task of the SILS Negotiation Planning Group, developing a negotiation strategy focused on obtaining specific provisions, also comes from the core recommendations of the SILS Task Force. The task force identified four key areas of interest to the Alliance: (1) additional professional training from Ex Libris on both Primo and Alma, (2) professional services consulting from Ex Libris for individual libraries, (3) cost for changes in Alliance membership, and (4) contract length. Additionally, the task force noted that both increased accountability for accessibility and improved documentation were worth addressing with Ex Libris during the negotiations, but that the Alliance was unlikely to have success in these areas and should therefore keep expectations at an appropriate level.

In May of 2021 Clarivate announced that it had acquired Ex Libris. There are concerns among Alliance members about the implications of this acquisition for patron privacy, and therefore the third primary task of the SILS Negotiation Planning Group is to investigate these risks and make recommendations on how any such risks could be mitigated in the next contract with Ex Libris. 


The planning group will be composed of three council members (one serving as chair), two Alliance program managers, and two Alliance member library representatives to Alliance programs. Members should be chosen to represent a broad range of experience and expertise in SILS functional areas, Alliance financial issues, and contract negotiation. The Alliance Executive Director will be an ex officio member of the team with the option to participate in task force activities as desired.

Application Procedure and Timeline

If this group charge is endorsed, a call for volunteers will immediately go out to all eligible planning group members. The group should be assembled and commence its work by the end of October 2021.


The goals of the planning group are:

  • better defining Alliance/member needs and expectations for the SILS in preparation for negotiations with Ex Libris;
  • developing a negotiation strategy focused on obtaining the contract provisions recommended by the SILS Task Force; and
  • assessing the risks to patron privacy posed by Clarivate ownership of Ex Libris and preparing desired contract provisions in response.


A report or series of reports that covers the following:

  • a platform-agnostic ranked list of Alliance needs for a SILS that differentiates between essential needs and features that are desirable but not critical; 
  • an assessment of potential risks to patron privacy presented by Clarivate ownership of Ex Libris;
  • a list of desired outcomes from a SILS negotiation that includes length of contract, pricing, services and training, contract provisions to protect patron privacy, and anything else deemed important by the planning group; and
  • an examination of whether there may be multiple potentially acceptable outcomes for a contract (e.g., different pricing for different levels of service), and if so, an explanation of those scenarios.

General Expectations & Assumptions:

The SILS Negotiation Planning Group should operate with the following general expectations and assumptions:

  • the Alliance will be using Alma/Primo for the foreseeable future due to a consolidated marketplace and a lack of viable open source solutions;
  • our leverage with Ex Libris is limited but it is still in Ex Libris’ interest to keep us satisfied;
  • Solutions that are mutually beneficial to both parties (Alliance and Ex Libris) will be most successful (e.g., training that will lessen Alliance Salesforce cases);
  • we are unlikely to get traction with specific and significant changes to the platform, particularly if those changes are primarily or exclusively beneficial to the Alliance as opposed to a broader swath of Alma and Primo users; 
  • the higher education environment is volatile, and in the coming years it is possible that we will see more change in Alliance membership than we typically expect; 
  • recommendations from the planning group should be supported by data collected from surveys and/or other research that are inclusive of all Alliance libraries; and
  • the planning group will stay in close contact with the Board as they develop and write their report.


July 8, 2021Board recommendation to form Planning Group approved
September 2021Planning Group charge review by Council
October 2021Planning Group assembled
December 2021Status update to Board
February 2022Status update to Board
April 2022Report submitted to Board
May 2022Board discusses report, makes recommendations
July 2022Recommendations presented at Council business meeting