Melbourne, March 2. The City of Boroondara Library Service, in Melbourne, has become the 10th Australian library to move to Civica's Managed Services option for running its computer systems.
When Civica introduced Managed Services a year ago, initial interest came from rural libraries since they often lack the expertise and resources to handle the complexities of information technology.
However, the City of Boroondara is a large inner eastern urban library running 117 concurrent users on its system. Larger metropolitan libraries are now realising that the benefits of Managed Services also apply to their libraries and a second major Melbourne metropolitan library is expected to sign soon for Civica's Managed Services.
When libraries sign up for this service, Civica takes responsibility for their systems, running the company's Spydus library management software on servers at its Collingwood facility and connecting to customer libraries via a secure virtual private network (VPN). As part of the service, the libraries receive annual software upgrades and full 24x7 support for a fixed fee, while full backup and disaster recovery facilities include a second site in Sydney.
“We have been encouraged by the strong interest shown by larger metropolitan Councils,” says Chris Thewlis, Civica's Sales and Marketing Manager, Library Solutions. “Often they see our service as a cost effective way of dealing with risk management, since it conforms to new compliance legislation that demands they have duplicate systems in place.
“Libraries are also finding that Managed Services ease their annual budget process, since their full computer solution, including software and hardware upgrades is already costed.”
While cost was part of the equation in Boroondara Library's decision to move to Managed Services, disaster recovery considerations were the major factor. Boroondara has a long history using Spydus, since Hawthorn City Library installed the software's forerunner over 20 years ago.
Information Manager Louise Pitcher, who is also Kew Librarian, says the server was managed by library staff with assistance from the Council's Information Technology department – particularly in terms of network communications and implementation of upgrades. Before the final decision on taking Managed Services, IT staff, library staff and Civica met to ensure an alignment of Spydus and Council's technical future.
Cutover from the old way of working was achieved seamlessly after two days of testing, and librarians at Boroondara have discovered major benefits in the system's speed under the new arrangement.
“It's an absolute bonus that we had not expected,” says Louise Pitcher. “Speeds have more than doubled in some operational areas, especially back office tasks like placing bookings for meeting rooms, managing serials, and acquisitions!
“Yet our principal reason for wanting to move to Managed Services was having our system managed by Civica 24x7, with automatic upgrades and full disaster recovery provision.”
Boroondara Library has five branches, has half a million items with 71 full time equivalent staff serving more than 100,000 customers. It issues over 2 million items per year.
The library is about to implement the Spydus Selective Dissemination Information (SDI) module, a system that alerts customers who have entered their preferred reading or listening profiles, to the availability of appropriate titles. Other enhancements soon to be made available in the library's catalogue are a “kids catalogue” and graphic links - providing book covers, contents pages and the like.