New Wales-wide library system will foster greater collaboration between universities


A new library management system which will promote collaboration between cross-sector libraries in Wales will be celebrated at an event in the National Assembly today (Thursday 22 September 2016).

The new bilingual library management system which will be shared by Welsh university libraries (University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff University, The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Swansea University, University of South Wales, Wrexham Glyndŵr University), NHS libraries, and the National Library of Wales, will deliver cost benefits, greater collaboration, and the potential to share collections throughout 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, which supports the work of the Library, Information and Knowledge Profession), 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.”

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.”

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.”

Alison Harding, UWTSD’s Executive Head of Library and Learning Resources added “All WHELF members expect to realise transformational benefits from our continued collaboration on a shared Library system, including the provision of a single bilingual search interface for Wales Higher Education and research, plus there is the very real potential for deeper collaboration around collection development and management. It is also hoped that the shared system will enable opportunities for further collaboration, for example reciprocal arrangements for borrowing and licence management across the consortia.

The project has been driven from the start by the aim of adding value to operational services and achieving benefits for library staff and users, home institutions and government. The feasibility study identified high-level benefits from a shared LMS, including driving down costs, increasing efficiencies and improving services and user experiences.

The project is expected to deliver an improved experience for UWTSD staff, students and researchers as there is now the very real potential to search across collections of participating institutions in Wales from a single point of entry”.