As part of the project, SCURL member libraries were asked to complete an inventory of “library systems”. Whilst not comprehensive, the inventory includes responses from most members and gives a useful snapshot of the current state of play:
|Aberdeen, University of||Ex Libris||Aleph|
|Abertay University||Ex Libris||Voyager|
|Dundee College Learning Hubs||Softlink||Liberty|
|Dundee, University of||Ex Libris||Aleph|
|Edinburgh Napier University||Ex Libris||Aleph|
|Edinburgh, University of||Ex Libris||Voyager|
|Edinburgh City Libraries||Capita||Alto|
|Glasgow Caledonian University||SirsiDynix||Symphony|
|Glasgow School of Art||Capita||Alto|
|Glasgow, University of||Innovative Interfaces||Sierra|
|Heriot Watt University||Ex Libris||Voyager|
|National Library of Scotland||Ex Libris||Voyager|
|National Museums Scotland||SirsiDynix||Symphony|
|Perth & Kinross Council Library and Information Services||Capita||Alto|
|Queen Margaret University||Innovative Interfaces||Millenium|
|Robert Gordon University||SirsiDynix||Symphony|
|Royal Observatory Edinburgh||Ex Libris||Voyager|
|Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama||Capita||Alto|
|Scottish Agricultural College (now SRUC)||Capita||Alto *|
|Signet Library (WS Society)||Ex Libris||Voyager|
|St Andrews, University of||Innovative Interfaces||Millenium|
|Stirling, University of||Innovative Interfaces||Millenium|
|Stirling and East Dumbartonshire Councils||PTFS||Evergreen|
|Strathclyde, University of||Ex Libris||Voyager|
|West of Scotland, University of the||Capita||Alto *|
|UHI Millenium Institute||Innovative Interfaces||Millenium|
|* SRUC and University of the West of Scotland are moving to III Millenium under the SEDAR consortium|
Seen better days?
Whilst most libraries regard their traditional LMS as essential to the running of their day to day operations and a core component for their institution, it is becoming clear that the functionality provided is at best acceptable and is becoming less aligned with the needs of managing diverse types of content. Library staff appear to tolerate their traditional systems (and the frequent difficulties of integrating them with other system components) and develop workarounds to their shortcomings (in the absence of anything better coming along for them any time soon).
Additionally, the LMS is often regarded as niche by the organisation itself, in contrast (say) to the Finance or Human Resources system, perpetuating a culture where silos can become entrenched within the organisation and each system often procured in isolation.
What has changed?
As can be seen from the inventory of Scottish LMSs, there is no revolution happening right now. Many of the issues covered by the JISC & SCONUL Library Management Systems Study (2008) are still pertinent now, and continue to colour the strategic decisions by our libraries. What has changed since the report was produced is the global economic situation, its long term impact on local finances, and the extent to which libraries and the organisations they belong to are likely to approach risk management in the future. Library Services Platofrms have been long promised, but remain unavailable except for some early adopter organisations. The end result, particularly in Scotland where political decisions could further impact on consideration of strategic direction over the next 2-3 years, is that libraries are playing a waiting game. We are all waiting to see what happens with the Library Services Platofrms offerings from commercial vendors; we are waiting to see if the cloud based solutions are reliable and fit for use; we are waiting for case studies from early adopters.
Issues of Complexity
“One of the main issues facing libraries ….. is the complexity of their systems environment.”
‘The network reconfigures the library systems environment’ Lorcan Dempsey’s weblog. 6th July 2007 http://orweblog.oclc.org/archives/001379.html
Here is a selection of responses from the same group of Scottish libraries detailing the other “library systems” in use (each of which are often tightly coupled to the library’s LMS and workflow processes), under common categories:
|Search & Discovery interfaces||Link Resolvers||Reading Lists||VLEs||Institutional Repositories / Research Management||Image Archives / Digital Objects||Inter Library Loans|
|Talis Aspire,LMS,In House
|Luna Insight,Vernon,In House||ILLIAD,LMS,In House|
This list only begins to scratch the surface of what we already know to be an extremely complex mix of technologies in most of our organisations, and we haven’t even considered the issues of integrating with corporate systems… It quickly becomes obvious that the challenge of moving to a one stop shop of shared library services would be a complex transition.