On the 18th of December 2014 WHELF were delighted to announce that a consortium of Welsh Universities, including the National Library of Wales, and the Welsh NHS Libraries, have selected the Ex Libris Alma unified resource management system and the Ex Libris Primo unified resource discovery and delivery system to provide a new shared Library Management System for the sector.
The WHELF (Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum) Consortium has decided on the Alma and Primo next-generation solutions following a rigorous selection and assessment process. The 10 Libraries are Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, Swansea University, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Glyndwr University, the National Library of Wales, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, the University of South Wales and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, plus the Welsh NHS Libraries represented through the AWHILES Consortium.
Aled Gruffydd Jones, Chief Executive of the National Library of Wales, and Chair of WHELF commented that: “all WHELF members expect to realise transformational benefits from our collaboration on a shared Library system, including the provision of a single bilingual search interface for Wales Higher Education and research, plus the potential for deeper collaboration around collection development and management”.
Members of the WHELF Consortium currently employ a variety of standalone Library Management Systems, and several different discovery systems. With the selection of Ex Libris as a single provider, the Consortium will deliver a single cloud-based next generation library system, delivered on a software-as-a-service (SaaS) basis.
Alma and Primo will provide unified resource management and discovery, and enable the WHELF members to adopt shared, streamlined workflows whilst expanding opportunities for collaboration across the Consortium.
The WHELF Shared LMS will bring many benefits to participating institutions. These benefits are financial and non-financial.
The project is expected to deliver cost savings, through:
- Sharing the cost of the EU procurement (e.g. programme manager post is funded by a grant from Welsh Government and contributions from all consortium partners)
- Suppliers have indicated that there will be a discount for buying a system as part of a consortium
- Reduced hardware costs through operating a cloud hosted system
- Long-term potential to share collection development and services
The project is expected to deliver improved user experience, through:
- Potential to search across collections of participating institutions in Wales from a single point of entry
- Fewer system outages from using a more resilient cloud-hosted system
- Improved workflows leading to service improvements
- Enabling opportunities for further collaboration through use of the shared system, which could include
- reciprocal arrangements for borrowing and licence management
- shared management information and real-time analytics leading to improved service delivery
Background to WHELF Sharing of Library Services
Sharing services and systems has been an area of increasing interest across WHELF organisations for a number of years and WHELF has a long history of implementing successful collaborative initiatives e.g. the WHEEL, WALIA, CROESO schemes.
Sharing a library management system (LMS) is seen as a potential area to drive further collaboration and is a key milestone of the ‘Shared Services’ strand of the WHELF Development Plan and a key part of the WHELF Action Plan 2011-13. An initial feasibility study was funded by CyMAL.
In July 2012 WHELF successfully obtained funding from 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.
In February 2013 the final report of the project including recommendations was presented to WHELF and accepted in its entirety. Download a full copy of the report here.
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.
Sharing Services and pursuing efficiency through greater collaboration is also a strategic priority that has been handed down to Welsh HE institutions from HEFCW as part of the “Reconfiguration and Collaboration” strategy.
Our strategic vision for the “Sharing Library Services Programme” is to enable access to the shared resources and services of a virtual academic library for Wales. Our ambition is that the Programme will have direct impacts on individual learners and/or citizens, learning institutions and Wales as a vibrant knowledge economy;
- Individuals will be able to exploit the shared services delivered directly to them,
- learning institutions (across the sectoral boundaries) will find it easier to collaborate for learning, teaching and research and
- Wales will have a visible platform for access to knowledge within & to Welsh businesses as well as showcasing the knowledge created in Wales to economic and political partners.