In a groundbreaking achievement, all universities in Wales, NHS libraries and the National Library of Wales now share a single, bilingual library management system (LMS).
A recent event celebrated this collaboration. So what are the real benefits of a shared LMS?
Getting started – our feasibility study
In 2012 we funded the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF) to undertake a feasibility study into having a shared LMS for Wales. Since then we have remained a source of support working alongside groups such as WHELF and HEWIT (HE Wales IT directors group), who were responsible for the implementation.
The adoption of a shared system can seem like a daunting task – but the work of WHELF has demonstrated that it can be done through collaboration and perseverance.
Staff at Cardiff University project managed the three-year long project on behalf of the sector which saw the introduction of the Alma and Primo systems, marketed by Ex Libris, across member institutions.
The potential benefits of a shared LMS have been clearly articulated by the work done so far in Wales.
A shared LMS can streamline working practices allowing institutions to share information, reports, workflows and resources easily. Students and researchers can now search library collections throughout Wales in a consistent way. It is envisaged that the platform will have the potential for a student in one university to access a resource at another.
Students are already beginning to see benefits from the new library system due to easier access to resources for teaching, learning and research. Notably, the National Library of Wales worked hard on translating the entire system to ensure it is bilingual, meaning staff and students can use the system in Welsh.
Celebrating library collaboration
On Thursday 22 September 2016 along with Julie James AM, minister for skills and science, I joined a group of over 80 sector experts at the Senedd to celebrate the rollout at an event “celebrating library collaboration” (sponsored by WHELF, the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) Wales and Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) Cymru Wales).
The enthusiasm and commitment to the shared LMS in Wales was palpable and we were incredibly impressed by the dedication of all involved.
Although we’re not involved in the ongoing work of the public library authority shared LMS, we were thrilled to see the benefits of the shared system and enthusiasm of the staff echoed across sectors.
In terms of the next steps for this project, working with WHELF, we are looking at shared cataloguing standards and a reciprocal borrowing arrangement across Wales.
We are also working with WHELF and Cambridge Econometrics to produce an independent benefits-realisation review and framework to capture future benefits from the initiative, which will be published in early 2017. We hope this will be of use not just to the libraries and institutions within Wales, but also to others looking to implement similar shared systems across the UK and beyond.
The WHELF shared LMS project has gone from strength to strength and is testament to everyone who contributed over the years; it’s a great example for others considering any shared system.