WHELF Shared LMS: measuring the benefits of collaboration

WHELF is pleased to announce the publication of “Evaluating the benefits of the WHELF consortial approach to a library management system”.

Funded by Jisc, Cambridge Econometrics was commissioned by the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF) to carry out an independent evaluation of the project to procure and implement a shared library management system across the 9 universities in Wales, together with the National Library of Wales and the libraries of the NHS in Wales.  This report provides an authoritative and independent framework for identifying and reporting the benefits achieved.

The report is supplemented with three excellent case studies from Cardiff University, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the National Library of Wales.

Emma Adamson, Chair of WHELF and Director of Learning Services at the University of South Wales welcomed the report and case studies:

‘The benefits of sharing, as revealed by the Cambridge Econometrics report into the WHELF Wales-wide LMS implementation of the Ex Libris Alma and Primo systems, clearly and independently evidences the significant value and gains that are achieved through collaboration: whether these be economic, increasing innovation or developing more effective and efficient ways of working together.

On behalf of WHELF we thank JISC, Cambridge Econometrics and Ex Libris for their support in assisting with the commission of this important study on the benefits of sharing. I would also like to thank all 600 Library staff and colleagues, from across WHELF institutions, who contributed to the Wales-wide LMS implementation. They have worked collaboratively to help us truly realise the benefits of sharing the collections of WHELF: for the benefit of learners and researchers everywhere.’

The report and case studies highlight the range of benefits achieved by WHELF including:

  • lower supplier costs – £226,000 achieved in 2015-17
  • lower procurement costs- £55, 000 achieved
  • a high quality and high specification system for all participating institutions
  • a fully bilingual front and back-end interface enabling staff and users to access the system in both official languages of Wales
  • shared expertise to develop functionality, training and enhancements
  • better integration with other IT systems
  • greater flexibility of interfaces through the provision of a cloud based system
  • up to date reporting and analytics tools to streamline workflows
  • a common platform on which to deliver more benefits, including through consistent cataloguing standards and reciprocal borrowing

Chris Keene, Head of Library and Scholarly Futures at Jisc, commented:  “Jisc was pleased to support the independent report into the WHELF shared LMS – a project which Jisc supported at its outset through a feasibility study in 2012.  This benefits report not only demonstrates the clear value that can be achieved through collaborating but also provides a legacy, through the methodology employed, for other library services to adopt”

Graham Hay of Cambridge Econometrics stated that “quantitative approaches to evaluating the impact of implementing a LMS under a collaborative approach are relatively underdeveloped. By providing a structured framework for identifying the impacts of migrating to a new LMS through a consortial approach and a feasible method for quantifying them, this report is a novel addition to the existing research in this domain. The approach presented in the report provides a set of tools and frameworks that HE institutions can customise to suit their circumstance.’ Furthermore, the approach can be refined as more and better information becomes available over time, thereby allowing it to evolve and remain applicable in future.”

The report can be accessed here

Contact details:

WHELF: Gareth Owen, Programme Manager Shared LMS, oweng12@cardiff.ac.uk, Tel: 02922510189

Jisc: Chris Keene, Head of Library and Scholarly Futures, chris.keene@jisc.ac.uk, 0203 006 6047

Cambridge Econometrics: Graham Hay, Associate Director, CE, gh@camecon.com, Tel: 01223 533100

Posted in Blog LMS WHELF a Rennir, collaboration, JISC, Uncategorised, WHELF Shared LMS blog

Posted in events Tagged with: ,

Reports from the WHELF UXLibs workshop

WHELF was very pleased to have Andy Priestner run a UXLibs workshop at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen campus on 30th June 2017. Many thanks to Nina Whitcombe (Swansea University) and Sue House (University of South Wales) for these excellent blog posts about their experience of the day.

By Nina Whitcombe, Collections Services and Systems Officer at Swansea University:

“I registered for this course as soon as I saw it advertised on the enthusiastic recommendation of a colleague who had already attended training given by Andy Priestner. The course became full very quickly so I am glad that I did manage to book early.  After working in academic libraries for longer than I am prepared to admit, it becomes very easy to fall into the mind-set of assuming you have a good grasp on what users want. This training was a timely reminder that user requirements constantly evolve and in order to meet institutional aims for student experience we need to gather behavioural and attitudinal data alongside the more traditional data such as footfall, number of loans etc.

Throughout the day, Andy introduced a variety of ethnographic approaches that can be employed when gathering research data from library users. The results can then be examined to identify how our services and spaces are currently used and how people want to use them. We were given the opportunity to carry out practical examples using the various research methods and encouraged to consider how we could take these ideas away with us and apply them in our own work environments.

The final part of the day covered idea generation and prototyping based on data gathered during research. We worked through a number of practical examples aimed at maximising the value of user feedback. It was reassuring to see how quickly and cheaply user satisfaction with the physical library environment can be improved (strategically placed plants acting as privacy screens on shared study tables). We are currently undergoing a major campus redevelopment project and I am sure there will be the opportunity to try out some of the methods and ideas covered at this event soon”


By Sue House, Librarian for Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, University of South Wales:

In this slightly unconventional post I’ve tried to use reflective questions learned on a CILIP Professional Registration Workshop & Mentor Information and Support Session from CSO Sharon Cook to share with you a personal evaluative and critical summary of the day.

Why did I do this activity?

  • To learn about UX and ethnographic research
  • To find out how I could understand our library users better
  • To find out if I could use UX to help me prioritise my own workload by finding out what is important to my students & staff in humanities, social sciences and law (the answer is potentially ‘yes’.)

What did I learn from it?

I learned a huge amount from this day, the key points for me were:

  • UX is a holistic approach to giving users not just what they want but also what they ‘don’t yet know they want’ and if it is done well and services and products change for the better as a result of feedback then ‘customer service’ is not necessarily required as the experience of our services and products will be good/great.
  • It’s all about how someone feels when they use a service or product (their attitudes / behaviour)
  • It’s all about how ‘useful, usable and desirable’ a service or product is
  • Everyone in the library should be involved in UX research
  • There are several methods available – surveys/focus groups are ok if very well designed, but there are lots more engaging methods which will illicit more useful and effective data e.g. observations, mapping the ‘desire line’ through a space, in-depth user interviews, cognitive mapping, photo elicitation interviews, user journey mapping, card sorting, touchstone tours, love and break-up letters etc. Several of which we were able to experience in various activities throughout the day.
  • You can start small and scale up, you just need post-its and Sharpies!
  • You need to think about ethics and consent forms (speak to your ‘Ethics’ people before you start)

 There are lots of UX library resources available including:

Reading List:

  • Krug – Don’t Make Me Think
  • Priestner & Borg – User Experience in Libraries: applying ethnography and human-centred design
  • Schmidt & Etches – Useful, Usable, Desirable: applying user experience design to your library

How is this going to change my practice?

  • I would like to start by carrying out some 1hr observations of the space around the law collection at our Treforest library in the new academic year
  • I’m also considering using love and break-up letters as an activity in my ‘Refresher’ library induction sessions with returning students

How am I going to share this new knowledge?

  • I’m going to feedback to the team at the next available opportunity
  • I’ve written this blog post for WHELF

How am I going to monitor impact?

I will report back on the observations and inductions to my line manager with any suggestions for improvements to library space and services.

Ask yourself – ‘So what’?

The recent updating and development of classic ethnographic research methods to ‘UX’ has really energised many in the library community to gain a better understanding our users. At a time when libraries are under pressure to provide return on investment/value for money and evidence-based services these methods can relatively easily and more effectively inform the strategic and operational direction of the library service at USW. I would advocate that all USW library staff be involved in UX work. Andy was a great trainer and above all else it was a fun day out – yes, really!

Posted in events, workforce development

New Sconul Executive Board member

Congratulations to Alison Harding who has been elected to the Sconul Executive Board.  Alison was appointed to the post of Executive Head of Library and Learning Resources at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in July 2016, having previously held a number of roles within the library service of UWTSD. She is also a staff governor on the UWTSD Council. She has worked previously at UWIC (now CMU), University of Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Newport (now USW).
Alison is the institutional representative on the WHELF (Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum) Group, and also a member of the SCONUL (Society of College, University and National Libraries) Access Steering Group.
Her professional interests are library and learning space design, opening up access to resources and services, and library collaboration and partnerships. Alison is a mentor within the ‘Women in Universities Mentoring’ scheme, and has acted as a Leadership Foundation ‘Aurora’ role model.


Posted in SCONUL

Forthcoming events

September 2017
Global Library Excellence Tour – 14th September, Cardiff Central Library

More information including programme and registration: http://libraryexcellence.com/

The Library Global Excellence Tour 2017 is primarily aimed at senior leaders in public and academic libraries in the UK and Ireland. The tour, completely free to attend thanks to our sponsors, is designed to showcase global excellence and ambition in library service delivery and to inspire library leaders to achieve excellence in their service.

This is a free event and an opportunity for non-librarians too to see just what state and national library tech and infrastructure in US, Australia and Europe have delivered and to hear from the best in the UK.

October 2017

CILIP Cymru Wales have three events planned for the 9th of October in Cardiff. All three are open to CILIP members and non-members alike. CILIP Cymru would like you to get involved and share your experiences around the three themes. Places are limited- for each session, if you would like to come please book a place.

Copyright; Come and play the Game with Jane Secker. 10:30-13:00 £10 CILIP member, £20 non-member

Ethically Speaking. 14:00-16:00 An interactive workshop with Nick Poole and Guy Daines. This workshop forms part of CILIP Ethics Review and is an opportunity for those in the profession in Wales to contribute. No charge

Privacy Seminar. 16:00-17:00. Both Nick Poole and Guy Daines will present a seminar on the work CILIP is doing in this area. No charge.

Here is a link to all events mentioned https://www.cilip.org.uk/about/devolved-nations/cilip-cymru-wales

If you would like to know more about CILIP Ethics Review details can be found here: https://www.cilip.org.uk/research/topic

Posted in Copyright, events

Academic Book of the Future project reports

The Academic Book of the Future Project has published the findings from its 2 year project.  The report by Marilyn Deegan states that:

the academic book/monograph is still greatly valued in the academy for many
reasons: the ability to produce a sustained argument within a more
capacious framework than that permitted by the article format; the            
engagement of the reader at a deep level with such arguments; its
central place in career progression in the arts and humanities; its
reach beyond the academy (for some titles) into bookshops and into
the hands of a wider public. It seems that the future is likely to be a
mixed economy of print, e-versions of print, and networked
enhanced monographs of greater or lesser complexity” (pg. 7)

The reports  are available in full to to read from the project website

Outputs from the research project have also been published as a BOOC (Book as Open Online Content) published by UCL Press and can be accessed here

Posted in Uncategorised Tagged with: ,

WHELF Representatives meeting update

The WHELF Representatives met on 18th-19th May, 2017 at Gregynog Hall. This was the first meeting with our new WHELF Chair, Emma Adamson (Director of Learning Services, USW). We welcomed Mairwen Owen (Head of Academic Services) from Bangor University Library to her first WHELF Reps meeting.

Also present were: Kristine Chapman (Amgueddfa Cymru); Ann Davies (OU); Alison Harding (UWTSD); Julie Hart (Aberystwyth), Mark Hughes (Cardiff Metropolitan), Paul Jeorrett (Wrexham Glyndwr), Janet Peters (Cardiff); Owain Roberts (NLW); Rachael Whitfield (WDO); Tegid Rhys Williams (NRW); Steve Williams (Swansea)


The WHEEL sub-group has done some excellent work in liaising with publishers / suppliers to investigate deals for WHELF in these areas. We discussed the possibility of a WHEEL bundle of resources. The WHEEL Chair, Mark Hughes, will look at the top 5 offers that WHEEL currently have on the table which more than half the WHELF institutions have expressed an interest in, aggregate the costs and then pro rata those for each WHELF institution to ascertain if this is an affordable solution for WHELF.

WHELF Office

A task and finish group is to be set up to scope the future of a WHELF Office. This will consider what WHELF needs for the future in terms of supporting the development of WHELF, including management of the shared LMS, WHEEL negotiation and administration requirements such as central invoicing and general administration of the WHELF organization.

Report from NLW digital preservation day and repositories discussion

Steve Williams reported back from the ARCW/WHELF Digital Preservation day organized by NLW on 28th March 2017. WHELF has agreed that its focus will be on digital collections and special collections perhaps mirroring some of the Archivematica/Arkivium work done by ARCW. It has been agreed that a feasibility study would be the best approach for WHELF and we are currently exploring funding opportunities for this.

National Library @Cardiff collaboration agreement – Owain Roberts and Janet Peters reported on that this collaborative project is now in operation providing secure electronic access to the resources of the NLW. A designated room in the Social Sciences Library at Cardiff University has been established. Resources can only be accessed on screen, no downloading or printing. The resource is available to the general public.

WHELF Shared LMS: Gareth Owen’s paper suggested a number of recommendations which the WHELF Shared LMS Steering Group were asked to approve:

  • Reciprocal borrowing- it was agreed to proceed with a sampling exercise for WHELF in the delivery of interlibrary loans.
  • National Bibliographic Knowledge Base – it was agreed to participate in this project by OCLC which will build on the functionality of COPAC but widen its scope. For WHELF this would potentially fulfil the objective of a union/shared catalogue.
  • Cambridge Econometrics report on benefits. The 2nd draft of the report has been received and the final version will be launched at the Gregynog Colloquium.

Cardiff University Library visit to North Carolina

Janet Peters gave a presentation on her visit to the libraries at the University of Birmingham and Duke and North Carolina State Universities to investigate automated storage systems.

WHELF tour

The WHELF Chair, Emma Adamson and the WHELF Development Officer are touring the WHELF institiutions as part of an exercise to get a broad overview from each institution on its focus and service priorities and as it currently stands post LMS implementation and seek input on planning for the future for WHELF.

Judith Agus

At the end of Thursday’s meeting WHELF Reps took a walk in the surrounding grounds of Gregynog in memory of Judith Agus (former librarian RWCMD) and made a donation to Cancer Research.

WHELF Reps at Gregynog Hall May 2017


Posted in Uncategorised

Report from WHELF Research support events

Thank you to Beth Hall, Research Support Librarian & Academic Support Librarian at Bangor University for summarising the findings of the 3 regional events held 8th, 9th, and 10th May and  organized by the WHELF Research Group. Thank you also to Susan Glen, Research Librarian and Subject Librarian at Swansea University, and Nick Roberts, Research Librarian at University of South Wales and Beth again for their reports from each event which are included in the blog post below. These events were supported by funding from the WHELF Staff Development Fund and Bangor’s event was supported by the CILIP Information Literacy Group.


Tran Mau Tri Tam at Unsplash

In May 2017, we organised three parallel events in Cardiff, Swansea and Bangor in order to reach out to library staff interested in the area of supporting researchers.

Our aims for these events were:

  • to bring us closer to researchers
  • to understand pressures on researchers
  • to gain a better understanding of the researcher lifecycle
  • to learn more about how other departments in the institutions support researchers
  • to explore more effective ways to promote our value to researchers
  • and to examine more effective ways to communicate to researchers what we have on offer

There was some flexibility in the way the three separate events were organised, with different speakers at each event bringing different emphasis to the discussions.

We have received positive feedback from attendees. We conducted a post-event survey and got 30 responses across the three sites; 66% of respondents agreed they would rate the event good or very good (data below).  With attendee’s comments such as:

It is reassuring for me that I am operating along the right lines. Thank you for organising this

It was interesting to hear the researchers’ side of the story, great idea to get them in

Overall, how would you rate this event?
Cardiff Bangor Swansea Total Percentage
Excellent 0 3 1 14 13%
Very good 6 5 5 16 53%
Good 4 1 2 7 23%
Fair 2 0 1 3 10%
Poor 0 0 0 0 0%


However, attendees also commented that they wanted more time for discussion and more time to catch-up with library staff who are in “new roles” supporting researchers.  They would like to know more about what their roles involve, and share lessons-learned amongst colleagues – what has worked well and what has not.

Three separate blog posts have been written about the events, which give further valuable insight into what we have learnt from these events, as follows:

Report from Susan Glen on Swansea University’s event here

Report from Nick Roberts on Cardiff University’s event here

Report from Beth Hall on Bangor University’s event here

Here follows a summary of the main learning points from the invited speaker presentations, a list of current library services that the invited researchers mentioned as being valuable to them, and a list of actions that were coming out of the group discussions.

Learning points from invited speakers presentations:

  • Defining researchers is difficult, they are a diverse population, they will have different levels of engagement (Josie Grindulis, Cardiff and Dr Penny Dowdney, Bangor)
  • It is difficult to engage with more senior staff who may not have realised that regulations/requirements/services/available support have changed (Professor Rob Evans, Cardiff)
  • Communication needs to be targeted and translated into different disciplines (Claire Davis, Bangor)
  • Informal links with staff in other support roles in the institution allows you to understand how the University works, catch up on relevant changes and ask those “daft questions”, and helps make sure everyone in the institution is singing from the same hymn sheet (Claire Davis, Bangor)
  • Huge number of new pieces of advice and policies coming out from research funders all the time, difficult for support staff to understand never mind researchers themselves; we can have a role in identifying these policies and if possible summarising their contents (Dr Cornelia Thomas, Bangor)
  • Researchers respond at the point of need – don’t know what they need until they need it (Dr Penny Dowdney, Bangor)
  • Challenge: Hard to support researchers if you are not connect with them – need to build networks BUT to really get embedded and be directly involved in supporting a research project – requires immersion – but too much specialisation risks transforming a library role into a research role (Professor Rob Evans, Cardiff)
  • Researchers are trained to be independent, “persistent confidence in their self-sufficiency” – do not feel they need direct support from library staff (Professor Rob Evans, Cardiff)
  • Researchers don’t just need the black and white of identifying the published literature in their field, but also use tacit knowledge of what’s happening in their sector, differences in opinion, a wider range of evidence (Professor Rob Evans, Cardiff)
  • Importance to researchers of external funders policies but some researchers not fully aware of all external requirements (came up at all 3 events)
  • Vitae materials and Concordat on career development for researchers are useful, also look at other sources such as PIRUS (came up at all three events)
  • It is highly valuable to build up a good relationship with, and work with, other sections of the organisation that support researchers (came up at all 3 events)
  • Make sure staff are aware of all library services at induction (came up at Swansea event)

Support that is valued:

  • Literature searching, not across the board, but where researchers are moving into new fields, or where researchers are also practitioners and therefore less embedded in a research culture (e.g. medical) (Professor Rob Evans, Cardiff)
  • Training for postgraduate students (Professor Rob Evans, Cardiff)
  • Training for early career researchers (ECRs) if they have not already picked up these skills (came up at Bangor)
  • Support for Research Data Management (came up at all 3 events)
  • Copyright and publishers permissions for OA publishing (came up at all 3 events)
  • Help with metrics (Professor Rob Evans, Cardiff)
  • Providing interlibrary loans, and contacting archives and finding hard to reach materials (Helen Williams-Elis, Bangor)
  • Digitising and making available rare books and documents (Helen Williams-Elis, Bangor)
  • Support for systematic reviews and realist reviews (Dr Siân Davies)
  • Support for rapid reviews or policy briefings, these require the most up-to-date current good quality information, and there is always a short time-line for delivery (Dr Kirstin Williams, Bangor)
  • Managing information where you are scanning a large body of evidence (Dr Siân Davies, Bangor)
  • A nice space to work in, work collaboratively with others, if meeting rooms are available (came up at Bangor)

Some ideas coming out of the discussions:

  • Targeted promotion is key, personal touch is important
  • We should update guides for researchers

We should map our training, information guides and webpages to the Researcher Development Framework (RDF)

  • We should produce targeted information – nothing too generic
  • We should produce more online materials, video guides, lecture capture and look at delivering webinars in the future
  • We should pitch training at different levels
  • Ensure that University leaders are aware of the contributions we make to supporting researchers
  • Building networks and forming relationships with researchers at your institution is important, friendly connections, rubbing shoulders, oral cultures works
  • Possible potential to offer “writing retreats” or writing groups in the library to support researchers with academic writing? (Dr Kath Maude)
  • Continue to work collaboratively with the research office
  • Use social media to communicate and promote, but emails are important too
  • Make time to visit academic departments
  • Infiltrate departmental meetings
  • We should be aware of funders policies
  • We had an idea that we would have liked to spend more time with researchers asking them what they think of the services we currently provide, and perhaps presenting them with some our marketing messages and training guides to get their feedback. Unfortunately, researchers are so busy they did not have time to do this extra work. I wonder whether future work planned in WHELF using UX and customer-journey-mapping may help us answer this question?


Posted in research, Research group blog, research support

Aber LibTeachMeet on Fake news

This event was held at Aberystwyth University on 21st June 2017 and was organized by library  trainee, George Smith. The event was well attended from across Wales and very well received. A blog post outlining the talks from the day can be read here.

Posted in Uncategorised

WHELF/HEWIT Gregynog Colloquium 2017 – presentations

Thank you to the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Swansea University for organizing another successful and informative Gregynog Colloquium this year.  The speakers’ presentations are now available on the Colloquium website:

Mon-Weds: http://www.gregynog-lis.org/library-speakers-presentations/

Weds-Fri: http://www.gregynog-lis.org/it-speaker-biographies/

Thank you also to Kathryn Parry, CILIP Development Manager who has written a blog post about her experience of attending the event and that can be accessed here.

In 2018 the Colloquium will be organized by Bangor and Wrexham Glyndwr.

Posted in events, WHELF, workforce development