Three relatively small library services in South Australia have discovered the most efficient and cost-effective way to run their computerised library management systems.
First, the library services at The Barossa Council, Clare & Gilbert Valleys Council, and Light Regional Council formed the LINK Consortium to share their costs. Then they began a careful search for the most suitable solution for their 13 libraries.
Finally, in mid-2006, they went live with Civica's managed services model, based on the Spydus library management system, which runs their computing operations seamlessly from Melbourne while freeing library staff to look after their customers.
"It's been a fantastic result," says Amanda Cook, Manager, Library Services for Light Regional Council and Chairperson of the LINK committee. "None of us have had to employ a systems person since going live with Civica, and the only support phone call we have made in 12 months turned out to be a communications issue that was not related to the managed services setup."
Amanda recalls that initially when alternative systems were considered, the managed services option was considered too expensive and the consortium began costing a setup running on a server at The Barossa Council.
"But when our project manager considered all the factors and came up with a very detailed costing, we found that Civica's managed services option over five years was considerably more cost-effective. The margin was not even close – we were far better off with managed services."
Before the switchover, the LINK Consortium required customisation of its network, plus work that allows each partner to maintain individuality in its library policies and operations, while using a common approach to searching across the network. Data was converted from the former BookPlus and Bookmark systems, and Amanda Cook says the implementation was highly successful and managed well by Civica, within a tight timeframe.
"We were extremely happy with their performance in project management," she says. " We achieved our objective of connecting all our collections via a state-of-the-art library management system which provides the opportunity for growth, and whose vendor displays a good understanding of future developments in library services."
Today the librarians at The Barossa, Clare & Gilbert Valleys, and Light might spend a little time updating their web sites, but no longer have to concern themselves with performing backups, software upgrades or other technical operations.
Amanda says: "Staff love it. Now they spend their time helping customers instead of doing nuisance jobs related to the computer system."
The managed services deal includes a disaster recovery plan, implemented by Civica's Project Manager. In the unlikely event of a server failure at Civica's Melbourne data centre, processing for managed services customers is immediately cut over to the firm's Sydney data centre.
According to Amanda, staff also like the ability to switch easily between Civica's test database (for learning processes) and the live environment.
The LINK Consortium covers a regional area with about 40,000 people, some 20,000 of whom are borrowers. The three library services employ about 25 staff and run about 40 terminals for staff and customers.