After an 8-year effort by the Council of Chief Librarians, California Community Colleges (CCL) to obtain funding, the California Community Colleges (CCC) system is using a $6 million dollar one-time state grant to implement a cloud-based, systemwide Library Services Platform (LSP) using Ex Libris Alma and Primo software solutions that will more effectively connect all students with the most useful, high quality resources in each library's collection as well as those throughout the system. The LSP will replace more than 11 legacy library systems currently used by participating community college libraries in the state.
110 of California's 114 community colleges have committed to participate in the systemwide implementation which began on February 1, 2019. More than 2.1 million students and 500,000 faculty and staff will be served by the new statewide effort, which is supported by over 500 faculty librarians. The CCC is the largest education system in the world, and becomes the largest customer of Ex Libris.
The LSP is now a project of the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office (CCCCO) and the CCC Technology Center, in close partnership with the Council of Chief Librarians,California Community Colleges (CCL). "The LSP project is a great example of how the Council of Chief Librarians, the CCC Chancellor's Office, the CCC Technology Center, and our vendor community pulled together to implement a solution that benefits our colleges and students," said Barney Gomez, Vice Chancellor of Digital Innovation and Infrastructure for the CCC Chancellor's Office. "I'm pleased at the success of this effort. We look forward to other successful statewide technology projects like this that benefit our system."
Student Equity a Priority
Shared records and processes across the community college system will afford opportunities for streamlined workflows, making it possible for colleges with limited staff to more directly meet student needs, noted Doug Achterman, President of CCL. "The LSP opens opportunities for unprecedented digital and physical resource sharing across the state, increasing all students' access to quality resources," Achterman said. "Students who take courses at more than one college will now experience very similar search interfaces, making it easier to navigate library collections across the state." It should be noted that many CCC students transfer to one of the 23 California State University campuses, whose libraries also use Ex Libris Alama and Primo.
The LSP will have similar benefits for faculty, particularly those who teach at more than one college or college district. "Adjunct faculty who teach at multiple institutions will be able to use the same tools to locate quality resources regardless of the host college," Achterman said.
College adoption of the systemwide LSP is voluntary, and project leaders had set an optimistic goal of launching with commitment from 75% of colleges in the system (86 colleges). Having 110 colleges -- 98% of the California Community Colleges -- immediately sign on to participate is remarkable, and speaks to the strong collaboration among the LSP partners and the desire across the colleges to move toward shared resources to create a more equitable learning environment.
The diversity of participation is astounding, from colleges with fewer than 800 full-time enrollments (FTEs) and a single librarian to colleges with more than 13,000 FTEs and seven full-time librarians. Participation spans the length of the state, from the CCC's northernmost college, College of the Redwoods, to its southernmost college, Southwestern College.
After a lengthy evaluation of college and systemwide needs, careful observation of the CSU selection and implementation process, and intense examination of products put forward in the RFP process, the Ex Libris Alma and Primo products were selected. The software's modern architecture and design supports enhanced discovery, integrated workflow, improved maintenance, robust analytics, and an improved user experience.
The project team, CCL, 11 vanguard colleges, and other stakeholders have been working with Ex Libris to ensure a successful implementation across the system. During the pre-implementation stage, vanguard colleges went through the major steps of implementation, including training, data migration, network zone building, system configuration and initial workflow planning.
Lessons learned from this phase have shaped full implementation strategies and will influence decisions to be made on collaborative workflows, new policies, new services, etc. that may be facilitated by the LSP. A systemwide Governance Committee has been established to guide implementation efforts, policy development, vendor interaction and ongoing system development and use after full implementation.
A single implementation for all participating libraries began in February 2019 with all participants scheduled to go live together on the system between December 2019 and January 2020.
The implementation fee and 2020-21 subscription costs are funded by the LSP project for all participating institutions. Funding for an additional five years was approved by the Board of Governors on September 17, 2018, subject to inclusion in the CCC state budget when proposed by the Governor and adopted by the Legislature.