Shared Library Systems and Services, Part 1

As part of the Library Systems Programme, two reports have been published exploring the potential for shared library systems across Universities in both Scotland and Wales.

In the first of two posts I wanted to briefly introduce you to the two recently published reports, and their main findings/recommendations. In the second post I want to highlight some of the other developments on the shared library systems landscape, and highlight some of the implications.

A Shared LMS for Wales (WHELF)

The  Welsh Shared Service Library Management System Feasibility Report focussed on the most prevalent and practical issues for a shared all Wales HE library management system in broad terms:

The report makes the following recommendations:

The Project recommended setting up an All-Wales Consortium with formal governance. This requires the consortium to formally agree which processes, working practices and configurations will be adhered to by all members as a whole.

A cloud solution hosted by a vendor (or open source vendor) is the preferred option, because this will provide the most cost-effective resilient solution.

Further work will be required to develop a clear statement on the vision for shared LMS services in Wales, ensuring clarity of purpose and providing a compelling statement of intent for senior stakeholders and staff to achieve buy-in to the strategic direction proposed.

Next steps…

The report suggests a phased approach to implementation; anticipating that the first implementations will be no sooner than Summer 2014.

The report also suggests a task and finish group should be convened to quickly put together a high level plan, costs and cost allocation (i.e. funding) for the establishment of a project team.

The Benefits of Sharing (SCURL)

The Benefits of Sharing project has also just released a summary report of its work exploring a simple question:

How would a shared library management system improve services in Scotland?

While the question is simple, the answer is a little more complex. Indeed, the project began looking at the question with an initial workshop and subsequent report.

It then broke the problem into 3 parts:

  1. Users

  2. Systems, and;

  3. Content

The project also published a summary report which concludes with a number of recommendations, including the following:

From a systems perspective, sharing technical infrastructure and support structures would offer benefits of economies of scale, with more efficient use of staffing and greater expertise than any single library could offer. System options such as Open Source (OS) alternatives to ‘off the shelf’ commercial products could, therefore, become viable. It is recommended that at the tender and procurement phases of a shared LMS, all options, including OS systems, are reviewed and assessed.

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Both reports make very interesting reading – and also tell us a lot about the current library systems landscape. In particular there is a renewed vigour in the potential for sharing and collaborating around services and systems between libraries and institutions.

There is also a clear recognition that open source solutions are viable options for the community, and may represent a feature of this new library landscape.

In the second post on shared library services and systems I’ll explore some of the other developments within this landscape, and the implications they have for institutions, libraries and systems vendors.

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