Welsh Higher Education Libraries Shared LMS Services

Link to the full report here:

In July 2012 WHELF successfully obtained funding from the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) to explore the potential for a shared Library Management System across all higher education institutions and the NHS libraries in Wales.

The Library Systems Shared Services Feasibility Study (Wales) would provide a practical vision and roadmap for a shared model; exploring opportunities for integration and collaboration across the WHELF community.

The project was part of the JISC Library Systems Programme; which is exploring the significant changes in the Library systems market; including the development of ‘next-generation’, unified library systems which are seeking to bridge the gap between print and electronic resources, and the emergence of open source and community systems in the library market.

Given the complexity of the programme across all WHELF institutions, and the limited timescale associated with the project, the group concentrated on the most prevalent and practical issues for a shared all Wales HE library management system in broad terms:

·     A set of high-level agreed consortium requirements for a shared LMS.

·     A proposed governance model for the consortium.

·     High level recommendations on integration requirements for local systems; map communications standards which are applicable to the project against standards in use by suppliers.

·     A business case for a Wales-wide consortium LMS, including cost matrices for the different approaches presented.

·     Recommendations on the most cost-effective approach for software, hosting and ongoing management of the LMS.


The project took the approach of engaging with all project partners to understand their requirements and strategic goals for the development of their LMS.  The project manager visited each partner site and conducted interviews with key staff – including Systems Librarians and IT staff, senior managers and other library staff.

The project has also engaged with LMS suppliers (including open source ‘vendors’) to understand their likely range and scale of costs for the provision of next generation systems, either hosted by the supplier or hosted at an institutional on behalf of the consortium.

Project outcome and next steps 

In February 2013 the final report of the project including recommendations was presented to WHELF at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.

The report was accepted in its entirety and WHELF have agreed that they want to pursue the option of developing a shared LMS inline with the reports recommendations.

Moving forward a Task and Finish group is being set up to agree the outline timescales  and decision-making process for the tender process. It will also firm up on likely overall costs and governance approach.

Recommendations taken forward

The Project has recommended that setting up an All-Wales Consortium with formal governance is the best option for provision of a shared service.  This in practice will require 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.  A clear vision statement on the vision for shared LMS services in Wales will be required in order to ensure clarity of purpose and to provide a compelling statement of intent for senior stakeholders and staff to achieve buy-in to the strategic direction proposed.

The diversity of the institutions is recognised and acknowledged.  Additionally institutions are at various stages of their LMS lifecycle.  Therefore it is understood that the timing of any tender process undertaken by WHELF may not fit with other strategic priorities of individual institutions.  It will be essential to identify this prior to the commencement of any tender exercise, as misleading suppliers as to the size of the contract could lead to compensation claims.

Given the immaturity of the current next generation market it is recommended that the tender exercise commences in Jan 2014 at the earliest.  This provides both time for the market to continue to develop and also the preparation of a single set of requirements and tender documentation between now and this date. This time will also be required for obtaining institutional buy-in and developing governance structures.

A phased approach to implementation. It is anticipated that the first implementations will be no sooner than Summer 2014.

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 for delivery of the tender and governance stages.

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