Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum

Posted in WHELF

It’s all about collaboration…

The second in a series of short blog interviews with project leads at WHELF institutions which have already gone live with the shared LMS and Discovery-Alma and Primo:

Kloos Christiane 2012Christiane Kloos at Aberystwyth University

Tell us about Aberystwyth University and the Library Service
Aberystwyth University started off in 1872 with 26 students and 3 teaching staff at the Old College by the seafront (see . In 2014 there were some 9835 students and 940 academic staff (see and the university is now spread over locations in and out of town.

Library services are mainly centralised in the Hugh Owen Library on Penglais campus; currently there are 3 branch libraries and an off-site store.

What was your legacy system and what do you have now?

We came into this project with a suite of ExLibris products: Voyager (since 1999), SFX (2007, hosted), Metalib (2008, hosted), Analyzer (2009), Primo (2012).

One of the main drivers for us was the prospect of getting a library management system that could cope with work processes for both print and electronic materials, as well as reducing the number of systems we needed to maintain and integrate. We already used Primo as the only interface for our users, bringing together the different sources of records in one place.

Aberystwyth was part of the first cohort to implement Alma, and as such we had a tight schedule with no real time for advance preparation. The implementation project was kicked off in January 2015, we received our first (strictly internal) version of Alma in March 2015, and after a busy period of training, testing, configuration, and many many meetings we went live in July 2015.

Our decision to subscribe to the premium sandbox for Alma has already paid off as any testing in the sandbox much more realistically reflects the situation in the production system – something we have always missed in Voyager which did not offer this option. On the other hand for Primo we have the ‘normal’ sandbox with only part of the Alma data loaded.

What have you learned from the process?

While the schedule was so tight that we literally did not have time to stop and think, this was in many aspects a blessing in disguise. As it turns out, a lot of the data correction and cleaning up of obsolete data is much easier and quicker in Alma than it would have been in the old systems. It also makes sense to concentrate on correcting data that is showing up ‘weird’ in Alma and the new Primo – something you cannot do before seeing your data in the new system.

What benefits have been achieved?

The main benefit so far is the much closer collaboration with other institutions within Wales. With the help of collaboration tools like Basecamp and Yammer, staff have been able to get in touch with colleagues at other institutions and have been able to share their expertise as well as learn from and compare notes with others.collaboration

From the system administration point of view, any downtime will affect everyone in the consortium, and therefore ExLibris support and other Whelf institutions can be alerted as quickly as possible.

What are the main challenges ahead?

We will have to streamline our work processes and look into workflows again. During and after implementation we set things up so that they could work, but now that we are getting familiar with the system we would like to make sure we are making the best use of Alma functionality.

Within the consortium we will need to develop a strategy for different areas where we can improve sharing and collaboration to make the most of the shared system.

Anything else to add?

While certainly painful at times, implementation was a strangely enjoyable experience: it got people within our library to work together on a new and different project towards a tight deadline, and it opened up the opportunity to liaise and collaborate with staff from other institutions within Wales.

Posted in Blog LMS WHELF a Rennir, collaboration, shared services, Whelf shared LMS, WHELF Shared LMS blog

Data, data, data…..

The first in a series of short blog interviews with project leads at WHELF institutions which have already gone live with the shared LMS and Discovery-Alma and Primo:

Andrew BrownAndrew Brown, Collection Services and Systems Librarian at Swansea University

Tell us about Swansea University and the Library Service

Swansea University is a research-led university originally formed back in 1920. The University has enjoyed a period of tremendous growth, and we have recently realised our strategic ambition to be a top thirty research University, soaring up the 2014 Research Excellence Framework league table to 26th in the UK from 52nd in 2008. We also recently opened our Bay Campus, a brand new £450 million development on the eastern approach to the city, which complements our existing Singleton Park Campus, which is also the subject of an ambitious transformation project.

Library and IT at Swansea University have been operating as a converged service since 1997 and are now part of a wider group of professional services called Information Services and Systems.

Some university statistics:

FTE Academic Staff: 1,199
FTE All Staff: 2,627
FTE Students: 13,661 (c18,000 people)
Total University Income: £205 million
Total Research Income: £43 million
Ranked 26th in UK under REF 2014 for Research Excellence with over 1/3 classed as world leading, and 90% as ‘internationally excellent’ across all disciplines.

What was your legacy system and what do you have now?

Our legacy systems on the library management system side were locally hosted and supplied by ExLibris. We used both the ExLibris Voyager system (Acquisitions, cataloguing, circulation) and the ExLibris SFX OpenUrl link resolver which provided linking services to access online scholarly resources in full text. We also signed up to the Clio Inter-Library loan system which was loosely integrated with Voyager. On the discovery side we ran a locally hosted instance of VUFind, the open source resource discovery system. A local developer also made a significant contribution to the development of the VUFind system.

As a member of the WHELF Shared LMS consortium we replaced the resource management systems by signing up to the ExLibris Alma system which supports a range of library operations including acquisitions, selection, management of metadata and fulfillment (ExLibris new generation term for circulation and Inter-Library Loans or Document Delivery). Alma replaces Voyager, Clio and SFX and provides much needed integration between different functional areas. We also signed up to the Alma Premium sandbox which means we have our own data in the sandbox system and have this refreshed a number of times each year. This has been invaluable in testing new configurations and functionality.

On the resource discovery side, we replaced our VUFind discovery system with the ExLibris Primo system.

Describe your implementation

We had what might be described as a ‘challenging’ time frame for implementation which I should point out was completely our own choice given local circumstances around the opening of a new campus at Swansea University.

We had our local systems analysis meeting in mid January 2015 and went live with the new systems on 23rd June 2015.

Key challenges for us were having the new systems ready for the new campus (which was to open in August 2015), migration of our legacy purchase order data and of course more generally the compressed timescale we were working too.

We managed the process by setting up a small project group which met regularly throughout the duration of the project. This project team, along with the corresponding team at ExLibris were the key to a successful implementation. In our project team we had the perfect skillset – it included: a data migration specialist who had previously worked for a library system supplier, members of the library senior management to enable the group to effectively engage senior management, a marketing expert who ran our marketing campaigns and communications with stakeholders and between us all many years of managing and using library systems.

What have you learned from the process?data

Data, data, data. We’d have liked more time and more test loads, but that wasn’t possible in the timescale. On a positive note Alma is well equipped to manipulate our data post implementation so we are able to work through the inevitable migration issues.

What benefits have been achieved?

A great early benefit of being part of the first cohort has been an increase in collaboration with ‘Cohort One’ partners (Aberystwyth University, the University of South Wales and the National Library of Wales). We’ve built on past relationships with institutions forged in implementation and it’s been great to collaborate more closely together. A recent example was an issue that arose with Primo across the consortium and despite it occurring over the weekend the issue was resolved quickly when partners noticed the issue and reported it.

What are the main challenges ahead?

At the consortium level our main challenge will be to make the best of Alma’s consortial functionality. This will involve working even closer together on policies and configuration and also practicalities if we are to achieve our goals for collaboration.

We also face the ongoing challenge of optimising our new workflows with Alma. In some cases we are still using Voyager workflows and so we need to ask the question can we do something more efficiently in Alma? Additionally, we’ll be looking to enhance our data in all areas of Alma e.g. on the Acquisitions side we’d like to use Alma to manage licences and also improve our Vendor records.

Anything else to add?

After six months with the new system I believe we’ve made the right decision and I’m looking forward to seeing the introduction of consortial services and also making the best of Alma and Primo locally.

Posted in Blog LMS WHELF a Rennir, shared services, Whelf shared LMS, WHELF Shared LMS blog

National Libraries Day

NLD englishNLD_WelshThe annual National Libraries Day, an event to celebrate and showcase our libraries takes place this year on Saturday 6th February 2016. More details about the event and how you can get involved are on the website

Posted in events, Uncategorised Tagged with:

Support for Research at Aberystwyth University

Many thanks to Steve Smith,  from the Information Services Research Support Team/Academic Engagement Group at Aberystwyth University for this blog post.steve-smith-04

Steve blogs about the discussions the library team held with Research Committees to ascertain how the library can best support them. Steve also shared his findings with the WHELF Research Group at their meeting on 25th Jan 2016:

Aberystwyth University Library/Information Services Research Support Discussions with Departmental/Institute Research Committees

During 2015/16, the staff of the AU Library’s Academic Engagement Group held a series of meetings with Institute and Department research committees to determine what forms and formats of research support they would appreciate receiving from the Library.  Leads as to the types of research support already provided by the AU Library for researchers were provided only on request as we wished to gain opinions from the researchers rather than guiding discussions towards particular areas.  We stressed that support could apply to any stage of the research process, from devising grant applications through to storage of research outputs.AU research support

In terms of policy matters, ideas from the meetings ranged widely, from including an overhead allocation for Library/ Information Services support in all grant applications, providing a defined point at which IS/Library support could be requested for formulating grant proposals, arranging regular attendance of subject support librarians at Institute research committee meetings, ensuring that subscriptions to secondary literature sources such as databases and e-resources were maintained, to providing quiet study spaces specifically for postgraduates in the Library.

For operational matters, ideas were equally heterogeneous and covered expected areas such as providing more guidance on assessing journals for adherence to HEFC/RCUK open access policies, additional techniques for assessing which papers should be selected for gold open access payments, which were the best journals/publishers to which to submit these Gold OA papers, further guidance with creation of data management plans and with data archiving requirements, and expansion of our reference management software support and training.

There was also enthusiasm for the formation of postgraduate library focus groups, circulation of non-standard research funding opportunities through the research office, dissemination of details of published research papers (particularly where AU staff were not the corresponding authors), greater publicity for our 1:1 training clinics, more routes for suggesting purchase of research books, and greater stress on alternatives access routes to e-resources.

More unexpected requests included restarting database searching classes for researchers, particularly for inter-disciplinary subjects and systematic reviews, and wider introductions to our library’s special collections as potential sources for research projects.

We are now considering all these responses to form a sustainable Research Support action plan to take in to the future.

Steve Smith
Academic Engagement Group / Grwp Cysylltiadau Academaidd
& Research Support Team / Tîm Cymorth Ymchwil
Information Services / Gwasanaethau Gwybodaeth
Hugh Owen Library / Llyfrgell Hugh Owen
Aberystwyth University / Prifysgol Aberystwyth

Posted in Blog Grwp Ymchwil, research, Research group blog, research support

Call for papers: Gregynog Colloquium 13-17th June 2016

Every year  WHELF and HEWIT organise a residential colloquium at Gregynog Hall, the University of Wales’ conference centre.  This is an annual opportunity for Library and IT staff and practitioners at all levels to collaborate and share best practice.

This year’s Colloquium is organised by University of South Wales and this is our first call for papers.

The overarching theme is  ‘The Academic Library of the Future?’ and we are seeking presentations or workshops in the following broad areas:

  • The Academic Librarian of the future
  • Future of library spaces/adaptive learning environments
  • Technology enhanced learning including digital/information literacy
  • Academic Book of the Future/University presses/Future of e-books
  • Research support and compliance including open access, research data management, scholarly communication tools
  • LMS Project
  • Student experience/NSS
  • Students as partners

Please include a brief description of the presentation or workshop and email all suggested submissions by 19th February to:

Even if your suggestion doesn’t fit, or you don’t think it fits into these areas, we are open to looking at all ideas for talks.

Posted in events Tagged with:

Sconul Focus article on the WHELF Shared LMS

Gareth Owen, Programme Manager of the WHELF Shared LMS  and John Dalling, Senior Learning Resources Adviser at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David have an written article for Sconul Focus Issue 65. Steve Rose (Chair of the Editorial Team, Sconul Focus) states in his introduction that “the article… describes the context for the project, including drivers that have made collaboration successful, and some of the benefits already achieved and being planned”. Read the article in full here

Posted in Blog LMS WHELF a Rennir, collaboration, SCONUL, shared services, Welsh universities, Whelf shared LMS, WHELF Shared LMS blog

Pob hwyl / farewell Peter !

Alison Taylor from SCOLAR (Special Collections and Archives) blogs about the retirement last month of Peter Keelan (Head of Special Collections at Cardiff University)

Source: Pob hwyl / farewell Peter ! | Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) Casgliadau Arbennig ac Archifau

Posted in archives & special collections

(Cymraeg) LMS WHELF cyrraedd y garreg filltir

Sorry, this entry is only available in Cymraeg.

Posted in Blog LMS WHELF a Rennir, shared services, Whelf shared LMS, WHELF Shared LMS blog

Vacancy: Head of Special Collections – SCOLAR

Cardiff University Library Service is seeking to appoint to the role of Head of Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR). This is an exciting time as the University continues to implement its ambitious ‘Way Forward’ strategy, which aims for the University to become one of the top 100 in the world. The Special Collections and Archives are seen as a key source of rare and distinctive materials to support research across the disciplines, which will help the University to achieve its objective.

The successful candidate will have substantial experience of working within a senior role in the special collections and archives field and a proven track record of successfully bidding for grant funding. They will have the opportunity to shape and drive the strategic plan for SCOLAR and to work closely with colleagues across Wales and the GW4 Partnership.

The Special Collections and Archives section was established 10 years ago to bring together materials from across the University and was greatly enhanced in 2010 with the acquisition of the Cardiff Rare Books collection.

For an insight into some of the treasures in the collection see:

Interviews are likely to take place on the 18th of February and the post will be available immediately

This is an open-ended, full time position (35 hours per week)

Salary: £40,082 – £46,414 per annum (Grade 7)

Closing date: Sunday, 31 January 2016

Please be aware that Cardiff University reserves the right to close this vacancy early should sufficient applications be received

For more information on this position, please go to and search for job ID: 4180BR


Posted in archives & special collections

New Director of Learning Services for University of South Wales

USW-logo WHELF would like to congratulate Emma Adamson on her appointment to the the role of Director of Learning Services at the University of South Wales. Emma’s current role is Head of Library Services at Cardiff Metropolitan University (and Vice-Chair of WHELF) and she will be making the move to start her new position at the University of South Wales on 1st February 2016. Cardiff Metropolitan’s loss is certainly University of South Wales’ gain! and we look forward to working with Emma in her new capacity.

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