A new library management system which will promote collaboration between cross-sector libraries in Wales was celebrated at an event in the National Assembly.
The new bilingual library management system will deliver cost benefits, greater collaboration, and the potential to share collections throughout Wales.
It will be shared by Welsh university libraries, NHS libraries, and the National Library of Wales. Bangor and Glyndwr Universities recently completed the roll-out of the system, finalising the implementation schedule across Wales.
A library management system is the technology which enables university and other libraries to buy, catalogue, lend and show their holdings. The consortium, brought together by the Wales Higher Education Libraries Forum (WHELF, a network of university libraries and the National Library of Wales), and project managed by Cardiff University, has introduced the Alma and Primo systems, marketed by Ex Libris, across its member institutions during a three-year long programme.
The successful introduction of the new system across the WHELF network, alongside implementation of the first phase of a shared library management system for public libraries, will today be celebrated at an event at the Senedd with Julie James AM, the Minister for Skills and Science.
The ‘Celebrating library collaboration' event is also supported by Wales' public libraries and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), to celebrate wider cooperation across libraries in Wales.
Speaking ahead of the event, Minister for Science and Skills Julie James, said:
"I'm really pleased to be able to celebrate your collaboration and innovation in Welsh libraries and I'm proud that the Welsh Government has supported both of these partnership projects. Welsh libraries are leading the way in working collaboratively to deliver a better service for all those who use them. The new shared library management systems will bring significant benefits for library members across Wales. I very much hope that it will also act as a catalyst for further partnership working in future."
Mandy Powell, Head of CILIP Cymru Wales said: "It is thrilling to see a project of this scope and ambition being rightly celebrated. Librarians, Information and Knowledge Managers are all experts in the world of information and whether it is using their extensive skills to benefit users by widening access, saving money or opening up collections, great things happen when librarians are involved."
Sue Hodges, Director of Libraries and Archives at Bangor University and Chair of WHELF stated: "This is a remarkable achievement which demonstrates the trust, commitment, vision and strength of collaboration within WHELF. I would like to thank all of the WHELF institutions and Ex-Libris for their fantastic efforts in delivering the implementation and roll-out of the system on time and to extremely challenging deadlines. Students will benefit immensely from this new library system which provides easier access to resources for teaching, learning and research."
The Society of Chief Librarians for Wales said: "Cooperation is a crucial part of the efforts of Public Library Services in Wales to fulfil their statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient service for their residents. With the launch of the first phase to adopt a Library Computer Management System for Wales in North Wales, this project will offer benefits for all authorities and is important step forward to ensuring sustainable models of delivery of Welsh public library services."
Universities involved include Aberyswyth University, Bangor University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff University, The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Swansea University, University of South Wales, University of Wales Trinity Saint David and Wrexham Glyndwr University.
Cardiff University is one of the Welsh universities to have introduced the new library management system in August 2016. Staff at the university also project managed the procurement process and oversaw the implementation of the new system.
Janet Peters, Director of Cardiff University Library Service and Chair of the project's steering group, said: "The collaboration between the member institutions of WHELF has been vital to the success of such an ambitious project. Developed over many years, the desire to work together has been truly inspirational, and we are looking forward to sharing resources and expertise with our colleagues across Welsh Higher Education libraries into the future.
"Our students, researchers, clinicians, and other users, will gain very real benefits from the new library management system by being able to search the library collections throughout Wales in a consistent way. We are already planning further developments to streamline access even more."