Enfield and Havering library services are sharing stock management services across the two boroughs. The innovative new arrangement means that one stock manager covers stock acquisition, performance and disposal, for Enfield and Havering, boroughs which have roughly the same population size, demographic, and funding levels. The arrangement has been made possible as both are members of the 12-borough strong London Libraries Consortium which services a population of three million across London.
Madeline Barrett, Libraries Strategy and Performance Manager, Enfield Libraries says, "This initiative wouldn't have come about without our regular meetings as members of the London Libraries Consortium. The consortium seeks service changes which will help us to provide better resources to library users, in a more efficient and cost effective way. We estimate that our shared stock management arrangement has the potential to save around £35k per annum across two boroughs alone, and the consortium is now considering further ways to share operations and stock between members."
Ann Rennie, Library Services Manager at Havering Library Service, explains, "Our stock manager had reached retirement age, which coincided with our reassessment of the most cost effective and efficient way to operate stock services. Discussions with the London Borough of Enfield, a fellow partner in the London Libraries Consortium, showed that we could share their stock manager. Managers and staff in the consortium share knowledge and experience on a regular basis, which allows us to implement efficiency and service improvements far more quickly than we could as individual authorities."
Mark Bennett has been in the joint post since May 2010 and handles budget control, supplier performance, contract monitoring and stock services. As he was previously employed in the role at Enfield, he had all the required skillsets of experience in acquisitions and stock control, knowledge of the consortium's library management system (Axiell's OpenGalaxy) and electronic procurement using EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), performance and budget control including the use of payments interfaces between OpenGalaxy and corporate finance systems, stock management and RFID; consequently he was able to move seamlessly into the joint role without any training. He is also involved in the renegotiation of local and LLC stock contracts covering purchase of stock and associated ‘added value' services such as supplier selection, EDI provision, RFID tagging, shelf-ready stock and direct branch delivery.
Mark says, "Shared working across two boroughs and 26 libraries presents an ideal opportunity to benchmark processes and to gain a way of working which takes the best from both boroughs. The Enfield/Havering pilot presents the opportunity to directly apply this to form a broad best practice template for consolidated stock management which other LLC members can adopt or develop. For users this means that they will gain better access to stock, stock will be rotated more efficiently and purchased to better suit our readers' interests and requirements."
The consortium has recently purchased SmartSM, stock performance improvement software, which accesses the OpenGalaxy LMS and takes stock information for analysis. Mark will be using this data to identify areas for development such as which branches have too much or too little of particular categories or authors. The data will be used to develop supplier selection profiles and measure performance of those, ensuring a more evidence-based case for stock management and purchase. As most consortium members will use OpenGalaxy's library management system and SmartSM, they will be able to benchmark and share stock performance data between themselves to identify areas for enhancement.