Merton announces it has joined the London Libraries Consortium. Started in 2004, the consortium now numbers 15 London Boroughs, almost half the capital's 32 Boroughs and covering over 3.6 million residents. Lewisham and Kingston-Upon-Thames have also joined in the last 12 months.
Anthony Hopkins, Head of Library and Heritage Services, says, "Merton Libraries boasts high customer satisfaction but like many other library services we are not well funded and we will gain cost reductions by joining the London Libraries Consortium. The partnership element where we share good practice with other Boroughs on a regular basis will also be invaluable as we make ongoing service improvements from cross-Borough shared services to innovative customer service initiatives."
Merton went live with the stock consortium element of the programme in May, allowing the Borough to share costs on procurement and management of the stock procurement process with other consortium members. The consortium's subscription to the smartsm evidence-based stock management tool will also allow Merton to better deploy its stock and to ensure that items held more accurately reflect user demand.
Purchasing the consortium's Axiell library management system (LMS), through the consortium procurement framework will produce cost savings and bring other benefits. Anthony adds, "Although we already use Axiell's OpenGalaxy, procuring through the consortium means we will now benefit from free upgrades to new applications and tools which are currently chargeable, such as the 24*7 automated telephone renewals hotline and acquisitions module. We were required by our councillors to prove a very strong case for savings and return on investment and were able to develop a robust case."
The LMS will go live later this year with the shared catalogue and Axiell's new 24/7 library and web portal, Arena, which will offer users across the Borough's seven libraries and from any internet-enabled computer a more intuitive and interactive experience than traditional library catalogue searching.
The Borough plans to introduce the consortium's EDI interface between its corporate finance system and the LMS, which will allow invoices to be paid through the corporate finance system rather than the current double entry system. This will also facilitate direct delivery of stock to individual library branches rather than to one central point, meaning library users can borrow new stock more speedily and transport costs are reduced.