Long gone are the days where students would have to fight for the last textbook copy on the library shelf. In the internet age, information, resources and books across public libraries, schools, universities and TAFEs can be accessed online, relieving students of the need to worry about low book stocks, library closing hours, and staff, the task of manually managing and allocating resources without a central online database.
Since 2007, TAFE Queensland has been using Spydus, an automated web-centric information management solution from Civica Library Solutions for academic, government, public and corporate libraries. Used by more than 2,000 libraries worldwide, Spydus software manages library data including digital collections, community information and historical archives, in addition to traditional bibliographic data.
A system for students and staff
Civica's Spydus solution provides both back-end and front-end software solutions for students and staff across TAFE Queensland, covering the entire state. Civica's Spydus library portal software, which includes a search and retrieval engine, enables students to log-in, browse books, search what is available and reserve a book if they need. The library portal facilitates quick and easy access to library catalogues, electronic resources and detailed patron information via a web browser.
The fully configurable Spydus library portal also gives libraries the flexibility to determine access points, display fields, page displays and order. In addition to a wide range of features, it incorporates advanced search features including keyword, browsing, exact match, truncation, boolean operators, as well as limiting and sorting.
For librarians, Spydus offers a back-end application that enables staff to manage acquisitions, circulation, general enquiries, cataloguing, reporting and other administration processes.
Centralised state-wide system
According to TAFE Queensland's Manager of eLearning Services, Simon Lewington, the implementation of Spydus forms part of an institution-wide plan to move towards a more unified operation. The implementation of a centralised library information system has allowed TAFE Queensland to have one point of entry for information and manage educational resources efficiently across multiple campuses, much like a consortium. It also enables simplified collaborative planning through resource sharing to assist learning.
Lewington also explains that since TAFE Queensland started using Spydus it has enabled the institution to reduce costs while improving efficiency, given staff can work more collaboratively.
"Spydus being a centrally managed service, runs across all TAFE Queensland campuses, means we can take a more unified approach to resource sharing and overall operations. Previously, applications to manage acquisitions for example were not shared, so campuses were purchasing resources separately. Now we have a single entity that can manage this on behalf of the whole state," said Lewington.
As a web-based system, a key benefit of Spydus is that it can provide both staff and students with access to digital resources, anywhere and at any time, according to Lewington.
"Previously, we were using software that was sitting on a PC at each location and they had to be updated individually each time we did an upgrade. So we would only do upgrades annually, first from the server side, then from the client side. Now it can all be done by Civica without having to interact too much with each individual library. We now have a monthly upgrade cycle and enhancements or new features can be implemented very quickly," said Lewington.
According to Lewington, one of the best features of Spydus for students is its integrated digital asset management (DAM) module.
"Students can search and access TAFE Queensland's library databases and resources at any time, so for example if a student wants to study at 2.00am they can gain access to library resources and records, whereas in the past, students would have to wait until the library opened to borrow the book or access the research they need.
"All material is now available through the mobile version of Spydus, allowing students to access library resources simultaneously or across multiple devices. The digital asset management module has provided vast benefits for students who study at TAFE Queensland," said Lewington.
In addition, the Spydus system enables access to specific electronic resources such as research and scientific journals for a variety of courses.
A major advantage of using the web-centric Spydus system is the ability to issue regular updates to achieve continuous improvement, rather than needing to conduct time-consuming rollouts.
"In the past, a full library system upgrade could take up to three months from start to finish and this takes a lot of resources internally. Our regular upgrades now happen seamlessly from month-to-month with minimal disruption to services," said Lewington.
TAFE Queensland recently renewed their contract with Civica for further two years.
Civica (www.civica.com.au) is a market-leading specialist in digital solutions, critical software applications and outsourcing services that help teams and organisations around the world to transform the way they work. Combining exceptional customer focus, experience and commitment, Civica supplies more than 4,000 organisations in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK and the USA.