In a project that fits with the trend toward large-scale consolidated library automation implementations, the country of Ireland has elected to provide a single library management system to serve all its public libraries. Following a period of gathering and refining the requirements for such a system, a Request for Tenders was issued in November 2013. According to a contract award notice posted September 15, 2014, Innovative Interfaces has been selected as the successful bidder and will deploy a technical platform based on Sierra and Encore. Consistent with other large public sector projects in Ireland, the formal procurement process was carried out by Local Government Management Agency (LGMA).
Once implemented, this system will support the entire country of Ireland, with a population of about 4.6 million; replace the existing automation systems in the 30 library authorities; manage a combined inventory of 13 million items, 7.2 million bibliographic records; and handle around 20 million annual circulation transactions. Innovative, not the libraries, will host the proposed new system.
The Dublin and the South Dublin library services will manage the shared automation system on behalf of the broader constituency of libraries. The initial phase of implementation will include the Dublin County Libraries, currently served by four separate Axiell Galaxy ILS implementations, and the Kildare and Wexford county libraries, both currently using SirsiDynix Horizon. This initial group is expected to be live on the new system in April 2015. The remaining public library services in the country will transition to the new system within two years.
The contract award notice provides a brief description of the scope of the project:
“The Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government; the Local Government Management Agency, and the City and County Managers' Association have agreed that as part of the new national strategy for public libraries a shared services approach to a single library management system for all local authority public libraries will be implemented.
“The national single LMS will include a single shared library catalogue, facilitate a single national library membership card and provide the capacity for shared acquisitions, management and integration of print and digital material.”
The project will facilitate the deployment of a single library card that will enable all residents of Ireland to borrow materials from any library and take advantage of other services.
From Fragmentation to Consolidation
The country of Ireland is currently served through separate automation systems deployed in each of its 32 library authorities. Dublin County is divided into four separate library authorities (City of Dublin, South Dublin, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, Fingal), each with a separate implementation of the Axiell Galaxy automation system.
Among the library services outside of Dublin, SirsiDynix is currently the dominant automation provider. SirsiDynix Horizon is used by the library services in Carlow, Cavan, Cork City, Cork County, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Limerick City, Limerick County, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Meath. SirsiDynix Symphony is deployed in Monaghan, Sligo, and Wexford.
The only library authority in Ireland previously using an Innovative ILS was County Clare, which implemented Millennium in 2007.
Major Win for Innovative
The selection of Innovative for this country-wide project spells a dramatic change in the library technology landscape in Ireland. SirsiDynix and Axiell both stand to lose significant accounts. Large-scale projects such as this one in Ireland represent a winner-take-all competition with very high stakes. According to the contract award notice, the total final value of the contract totals 452,000 Euros over its 5-year term, with an initial value of 300,000 Euros.
Innovative Interfaces operates its EMEA division from Ireland, putting the company in a strong position to support this project. As part of its increasing international presence, in January 2013 Innovative established a new corporate office in Dublin, Ireland, initially staffed with 8 personnel to serve as the headquarters for its Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA). In June 2014 the company announced that it had expanded its Dublin operations by an additional 25 positions.
For the libraries involved and their customers, consolidation into a single large system provides significant benefits. A catalog that spans the holdings of all the libraries in the country means a much broader array of materials available, including materials available beyond their local library service. From a financial perspective, savings can be expected in the procurement and operation of a single system relative to the 32 incumbent implementations. The shared system also infers a more uniform set of cataloging standards and practices, which should bring benefits both in more efficient processing workflows and improved opportunities for resource sharing.
Moving to a national system also comes with some negative factors. Local library authorities that previously enjoyed full control over their automation system will have to make major adjustments as they move to a shared system. The effectiveness of shared governance will be an important factor for ensuring that the system works to be benefit of all those involved.
Innovative's Capacity for Large-scale Systems
As one of the largest global library technology companies, Innovative has deployed its Millennium, Sierra, or INN-Reach automation products in wide variety scenarios, ranging from those for individual libraries to those that serve very large consortia or geographic regions.
Some of Innovative's largest implementations include:
- Sistema de Lectura Pública de Catalunya, consisting of 143 public libraries in the Diputació de Barcelona, operates a shared Millennium implementation with an Encore interface for its union catalog.
- MOBIUS, based on multiple clusters of Millennium installations that serve the academic libraries in Missouri.
- OhioLINK, one of the pioneering projects in resource sharing among academic libraries, consists of a Millennium or Sierra ILS deployed in each of the public academic libraries in Ohio, with a union catalog and resource sharing provided through Innovative's INN-Reach.
- Michigan Electronic Library Consortium (MeL), a resource sharing consortium in Michigan based on INN-Reach.
- Automated Library Information System of Nassau County, a shared Millennium system serving the 55 libraries in Nassau County in New York.
- eLGAR (Libraries for a Greater Auckland Region), a network of public libraries serving the city of Auckland and surrounding communities (Waitakere, Rodney, North Shore, and Manukau) in New Zealand.
- Minuteman Library Network, serving around 65 public and academic library facilities in the region surrounding Boston in Massachusetts.
- eiNetwork, a consortium of around 70 libraries in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, served by a Sierra implementation.
Other National and Regional Projects
The concept of sharing library automation infrastructure at the national level is not necessarily new, but is a trend that continues to see new examples. Several other countries have likewise implemented, or are in the process of implementing, consolidated systems.
Denmark: Fælles Bibliotekssystem
The country of Denmark, as reported in the January 2014 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter, is currently in the process of implementing a country-wide library management system for its public and school libraries. This system was awarded to Dantek A/S, which is currently working toward an implementation expected to commence in 2015, following a phase of software development through the end of 2014. The shared system, called Fælles Bibliotekssystem, will serve 88 municipalities. According to announcements made by Dantek, pilot projects are currently underway in the towns of Horsens and Aabenraa. In recent news, Dantek was acquired in August 2014 by the Danish firm Systematic, and has recently relocated its operations to the headquarters of its new corporate owners. Systematic is a large and well-established firm involved in providing information technology products to a variety of industries, including healthcare, defense, and various public sector areas. The acquisition of Dantek by Systematic should provide additional technical capacity and financial resources to complete the development and implementation of Fælles Bibliotekssystem.
Iceland has a national system for library automation that includes the national library, public libraries throughout the country, as well as most academic and special libraries. This system, called Genir, is based on an Ex Libris Aleph ILS with a public interface based on Primo, serves more than 300 libraries.
The public libraries in Chile have implemented a program of shared infrastructure for their public libraries. These libraries include not only the large municipal system in Santiago, but also those in many rural areas. BiblioRedes supports more than 420 public libraries on a platform based on an Ex Libris Aleph ILS for the management of print resources, a user-friendly public interface based on VuFind. BiblioRedes has recently engaged with Odilo to provide access to e-books, audiobooks, and video materials.
Northern Ireland: Libraries NI
The libraries in Northern Ireland have implemented a system of national infrastructure intended to include both a common library management system and RFID self-service components. The 100 libraries of this country with a population of 1.8 million were previously served by four separate library management systems, each using Axiell Galaxy. SirsiDynix was selected to provide its Symphony ILS for the library management component of this project, with Fujitsu acting as the lead vendor for this £25 project. (See the July 2013 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter for more details).
The country of Slovenia has a long history of centralized, national infrastructure for its libraries. An organization called Izum, headquartered in Maribor, Slovenia, has developed multiple generations of a library automation system called COBISS, which now supports not only the libraries in Slovenia, but also those in multiple other countries in the region. In Slovenia alone, COBISS.si serves a total of 433 libraries, including the national library (Narodna in univerzitetna knjižnica), 61 public libraries, 80 academic libraries, 126 special libraries, and 165 school libraries. COBISS.Si manages a total of 4.4 million items. Prior to the breakup of Yugoslavia, Izum supported the libraries in each of its republics (Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Macedonia). In recent years, Izum has reestablished national networks for each now independent countries, except for Croatia.
South Australia Public Library Network
For larger countries, shared infrastructure for libraries at the national level may not yet be attainable. In Australia, there has been considerable interest in sharing a single system throughout the public libraries of a state. In 2010 South Australia set out to deploy a single system for its 77 public library authorities, including a total of 159 individual library facilities. This project was awarded to SirsiDynix in October 2011 to deploy its Symphony ILS to all of the public libraries in the state over a three year period. SirsiDynix announced in October 2014 that it had completed the installation of the final library.