The SILO Project was established in 1995 through an HEA Title II-B grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The State Library of Iowa, in partnership with the Iowa State University (ISU) Library, was awarded a $2.5 million grant over two years to provide resource sharing services, access to electronic databases, and telecommunications technical support to Iowa libraries. The grant was to pay particular attention to better serving Iowa's rural residents. In 1997, the grant was extended for two years. The State Library provided management oversight, library consulting, and training for the grant's projects. The ISU Library provided office space, support staff, and automation system technical support. The State Library contracted with the university's computation center for server maintenance and telecommunications support.
Since the grant ended in July 1999, the State Library has continued SILO as a sponsored program through ISU. The State Library has sustained the program with LSTA and state funds, and ISU regards its participation in the program as a significant outreach opportunity.
SILO Project staff created a state-wide union catalog known as the Locator that currently includes holdings from 699 libraries. They also developed a web-based interlibrary loan application that is currently used by 712 Iowa libraries of all types. Approximately 25 libraries participated in a pilot project that supported searching remote catalogs via the Z39.50 protocol, and 33 libraries used SILO's frame-relay network to access the Internet. The SILO program continues to support the Locator and interlibrary loan program, work with Iowa public libraries to facilitate high speed Internet access, and provide state-wide access to electronic databases, including OCLC's FirstSearch and EBSCOhost.