SEDAR (Stirling and East Dunbartonshire Area Resource) was founded by Stirling Council and East Dunbartonshire in 2011. Both Stirling and East Dunbartonshire Council previously used SirsiDynix Horizon. In 2007 it was announced that Horizon would no longer be developed. Customers had the choice of migrating to Symphony or finding an alternative LMS.
Having just purchased Horizon in 2005 this was a bitter pill to swallow, and the second time the authorities were faced, within a relatively short period of time, with having to migrate to a new LMS. Given the time and financial costs involved, it was untenable that this should reoccur with such regularity and remain outwith their control. Consequently, at the start of 2008 a group of public authorities collectively explored options. At this early stage, there was agreement that they would approach procurement as a Consortium and that there would be built in flexibility for local authorities to join when the time was right for them.
In 2010 Stirling Council led the tender with East Dunbartonshire. The open source LMS, Evergreen, emerged as the system to best meet local authorities’ needs. The LMS, hosted and supported by PTFS Europe, was launched in 2011 and the SEDAR libraries became the first in the UK to use an open source LMS.
Evergreen was initially developed by the Georgia Public Library Service and designed to serve consortia and is the chosen LMS of a large number of state-based Consortia in the United States, including Georgia state’s PINES (Public Information Network for Electronic Services), Evergreen Indiana, and the North Texas Library Consortium.
More information: http://evergreen-ils.org/
As the tender was time-proofed, local authorities wishing to join the Consortium can do so without repeating a lengthy procurement process. However the library must commit to a five year contract. There is no limit on the number of authorities that can join SEDAR but there is an annual limit on number of migrations that PTFS can manage over a year.
The Western Isles, who were also SirsiDynix customers, joined the SEDAR Consortium in March 2012, going live in November 2012. Clackmannanshire, one of Scotland’s smallest local authorities which previously operated an in-house developed system, joined the Consortium in May 2012 and is due to go live in February 2013.
The Consortium shares bibliographic data. To facilitate migration the Consortium streamlined work practices and aimed to make practices and policies, as much as possible, generic.
All public libraries have a SEDAR branded OPAC which defaults to search the local catalogue- the databases remain separate but are all searchable via a single OPAC. There is a drop down menu from which users can select to search, ‘everywhere’ which will include all the catalogues in the SEDAR Consortium, or select an individual library to search. Users from one local authority can’t place holds on items held at another local authority but would have to go through the Inter Library Loan network.
The Consortium is in its very early stages and governance continues to evolve as local authorities join. SEDAR holds regular meetings where members can discuss issues and share experiences. To date decision making has been done in a very consensual way – made easier by the founding members’ geographic proximity and good pre-existing working relationships.
Training and Support
Initial training is done by PTFS and cascaded to staff and new members. With an open source system all training material can be downloaded from the Evergreen site – there is no delivery of huge, hard copy manuals. The main support comes from PTFS and
Launched in 2011 and as the first Scottish open source local authority LMS, it is too soon to be able to determine if all anticipated benefits have been realised. However, in the current economic climate and squeeze on public sector finances, undoubtedly the major cost savings are a significant benefit.
There are already significant savings in using a hosted service as the annual maintenance charge is significantly reduced. With local authority IT services under increasing pressure as resources are cut, using a hosted service is an efficient way to provide expert support and resilience for the LMS. It is also anticipated that existing Consortium members will see a cost benefit in reduced annual maintenance costs as more members join.
When you belong to a sector in a small country, development requests to large multi nationals can sometimes be relegated to ‘the bottom of the list’. As a consortium, adopting an open source LMS, SEDAR benefits from a collective voice and is in a stronger position to influence system development.
Not all local authority members have a dedicated Systems librarian (or equivalent) and one of the key benefits of the Consortium is closer working relationships with colleagues in other local authorities and the mutual support and knowledge exchanges that provides.
Additional, unexpected benefits may emerge from the evaluation survey targeted at staff and commissioned by SLIC which is due to report early in 2013. The survey focused on the staff’s experience of the Evergreen system rather than having a user focus. However, anecdotal evidence indicates that once some initial confusion over library ID changes were overcome, users are pleased with the additional functionality the new LMS delivers.
Ultimately, the Consortium should benefit from greater control. An open source system is designed and maintained by and for customers; the fundamental benefit should be that local authorities do not find themselves forced, once again, to migrate LMS.