The Benefits of Sharing – Final Report

The Benefits Of Sharing‘ (TBOS) has been a Jisc funded project in the Future of Library Systems programme.  It set out to answer the following question:

“How would a shared library management system improve services in Scotland?”

The project has now released its final summary report.  This is combination of all of the more in-depth reports from the four different work packages, and includes an Executive Sumamry:

Download the report: The Benefits Of Sharing – Summary Report.pdf

LMS Day Event Write-up

On Friday 5th October, more than thirty library staff from across Scotland met together to discuss Library Management Systems.  Facilitated by Stephanie Taylor and Sheila Cannell, this one-day event asked the question, “Would a shared library management system improve services in Scotland?” To help us investigate the question, we broke the day into three sessions:

  1. What do we need from an LMS?
  2. What are the benefits and drawbacks to sharing?
  3. Would a shared LMS work for Scotland?
The write-up of the event has now been published: LMS Day Write-up.

LMS Day – Booking information

The Benefits of Sharing: LMS Day

Date: 5th October 2012
Time: 10:00 – 16:00
Venue: The Enterprise Zone, University Library, University of Stirling


This one-day event will ask the question, “Would a shared library management system improve services in Scotland?”.  The event is being run by the SCURL led ‘The Benefits of Sharing’ project, funded by JISC as part of its LMS Pathfinder Programme.

The day will focus on active participation for attendees, including round-table discussion and group work aimed at exploring the question in depth. By the end of the day we aim to have a clearer understanding of both the benefits and drawbacks of a shared LMS within Scotland, and a clear indication of whether the vision of the shared LMS is a viable and useful one for Scottish libraries.  The outcomes of this discussion will feed back into JISC’s investigations in this area.

Who Should Attend?
Anyone with an interest in Library Management Systems and the services they provide to higher education institutions in Scotland.  The event will appeal to different types of staff, including library service directors, systems librarians, digital library specialists, policy makers, and any staff who make use of the LMS and the facilities it offers.

The event is limited to a maximum of 40 participants, so space may be limited.

Introduction to the Day  – 10:00 – 10:30 (coffee from 9:30am)

  • Introduction to the Shared LMS for Scotland day – Mark Toole
  • Introduction to the JISC LMS Pathfinder Programme – Ben Showers (JISC)
  • Overview of sessions for the day – Stephanie Taylor, facilitator (Critical Eye Communications)

Session 1 – 10:30 – 12:00

  • What do we need from an LMS?
  • What does an LMS mean to us?

12:00 – 12:45 – Lunch break

Session 2 – 12:45 – 14:15

  • Are there particular areas of work that benefit from a shared LMS?

Session 3 – 14:15 – 15:30

  • Would a shared LMS work for Scotland? Facilitated by Sheila Cannell

Summary and Close – 15:30 – 16:00

Defining success

The Benefits of Sharing project is investigating the question “How would a shared library management system improve services in Scotland?”.  We will use the following criteria to decide if this project has been successful in answering this question:

  • The present: We need to understand how we currently operate LMS services. If we do not understand the current situation, we’ll be unable to decide if future scenarios improve upon this situation.
    • Have we gained an understanding of the current LMS landscape in Scotland, the systems and services that they offer?
    • Have we gained an understanding of the LMS from our users’ perspective, how they use and benefit from our LMS services, and how the service they receive could be improved?
    • Have we gained an understanding of Scottish library collections and their management?
  • The future: We need to understand the possible future scenarios that could exist if we used a shared LMS.  This will involve a mixture of users and services, systems, and content. If we don’t understand these future scenarios and what could be possible, we’ll be unable to articulate the possible benefits of such a future.
    • Have we been able to engage with LMS vendors to explore potential future LMS options and the costs and benefits that these may bring?
    • Have we held an active dialog with our users to discuss the impact of a shared LMS?
    • Have we applied our current collections and management processes to a shared system to see what effects this may have?
  • The benefits:We need to compare the present and future positions to understand the implications of a shared LMS.
    • Have we found out if a shared LMS would be possible?
    • Have we discovered any benefits to our users and services?
    • Have we described the costs or negative aspects to a shared LMS?

To summarise, the project will be a success if we can answer these questions.  If we are unable to answer the questions, then we have failed to understand the current or future possibilities, and the effect that they would have on the services that we offer which are facilitated by the LMS.  The success of the project does not rely on there being a benefit to a shared LMS, but by the project being able to articulate the costs and/or benefits.

SCURL Presentation

‘The Benefits of Sharing’ (TBOS) is a JISC funded project.  It is being led by the University of Edinburgh, along with the University of Stirling.  The Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries (SCURL) is a partner in the project.

SCURL recently held their AGM, and we gave the following presentation to introduce the project.

Project Plan

This is the first blog post of the newly funded ‘The Benefits of Sharing’ (TBOS) project.  The project has been funded by the Jisc as part of their LMS Pathfinder programme.  This blog post will provide an outline project plan for the coming six months.

Aims and Objectives
This project seeks to contribute towards a new vision for library systems by investigating the following question:

“How would a shared library management system improve services in Scotland?”

This will be achieved by a project team backed by the Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries (SCURL), and led by the University of Edinburgh Library and The University of Sitrling

There are several aspects to this question that will be investigated:

  • Services – how do different groups of users benefit from shared content and systems, and are there any complications introduced from such sharing?
  • Systems – how far can a shared system sensibly reach, do suitable solutions exist that can be shared and that scale appropriately, and to what extent is a local view of a shared system required or possible?
  • Content – how common are the current content holdings, licences and cataloguing practises across the libraries in Scotland that would help or hinder deeper sharing?

This project will examine different aspects that would need to be taken into account for a regional shared library management system. This will include considerations such as:

  • What are the cultural issues or barriers to collaboration, and how do these differ between the library service providers and their various stakeholder groups?
  • If content were held in a shared environment there are likely to be issues relating to security, intellectual property, sharing, and reuse.
  • What are the costs and benefits for the different roles involved?
  • What are the different levels of search and discovery services that may be possible – from a shared OPAC to local discovery layers?

This project will bring benefits to JiscSCONULSCURL, and the wider library world by investigating the potential shared regional library management systems. Lessons learned by the project will demonstrate possible parts of a new vision for library systems taken from a regional shared services perspective. In addition it will help provide useful direction to SCURL and its members regarding possible future developments in the area of shared library systems.

Project Team
The project is made up of six primary staff members:

  • John Scally: Director of Library and University Collections, The University of Edinburgh (Co-Project Director)
  • Mark Toole: Director of Information Services, The University of Stirling (Co-Project Director)
  • Stuart Lewis: Head of Digital Library, The University of Edinburgh (Project Manager)
  • Angela Laurins: Digital Library Service Transition Manager, The University of Edinburgh (Work package two lead)
  • Colin Watt: Information Systems Manager, The University of Edinburgh (Work package three lead)
  • Colin Sinclair: Library Content Manager, The University of Stirling (Work package four lead)

Staff contact details can be found on the ‘Contacts‘ page.

Timeline and Work Packages
The project is planned to run from July to December 2012.

Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
One – Looking Ahead X X X
Two – Services for Users X X X
Three – The Systems X X
Four – The Content X X
Five – Evaluation and Dissemination X
Six – Project Management X X X X X X

Work Package One: Looking ahead

  • Work Package Lead: Project Manager + Project Directors
  • Description: There are three planned activities to help the project to look at future possibilities for a shared LMS for Scotland:
    • Perform a brief review of recently published analysis in this area, both in the UK and internationally.
    • Gather together practitioners from across SCURL members and experts nominated by the Jisc Programme Manager to take part in a facilitated session to start thinking about the potentials of a shared LMS for Scotland. The facilitator will ensure that the participants think across a broad spectrum of timescales, from practical steps that can be taken now, to forward thinking envisioning of possible systems in the future.
    • Invite library systems vendors (including open source) to present their ideas for the future of shared systems. It may be possible to co-ordinate this event with some other vendor presentation events that are being organised in Edinburgh by other organisations.
  • Outputs: A report of the facilitated day, outlining different visions of future regional shared systems. Where possible these will be abstracted into use cases. It is hoped that small sound bites can be recorded and edited together of the different participants expressing some of their key thoughts. In addition, the key themes that emerge from the vendor input will be included to give a second viewpoint in the report.

Work Package Two: Services for Users

  • Work Package Lead: Angela Laurins, University of Edinburgh Library
  • Description: Based on the future visions developed in work package one, this work package will present those visions to a variety of users across SCURL institutions. The visions and perceived benefits will be explored with users through a variety of methods, including the use of facilitated focus groups and surveys, giving participants the opportunity to provide feedback and to contribute their own vision of an ideal LMS system. The output of this work package will allow us to compare the users’ perceived benefits of a shared LMS with those benefits gained at an institutional and systems management level.
  • Outputs: A report detailing the findings of the work package. This will include the results of the focus groups and survey, and possibly some sound bite recordings to add to those gathered earlier in the project.

Work Package Three: The Systems

  • Work Package Lead: Morag Watson, University of Edinburgh Library
  • Description: An overview of LMS products will be compiled with a focus on the offering on consortial services. This will be coupled with an investigation into the possibilities and issues related to the sharing and privacy of user information, local versus cloud hosting, general local content and data, and locally customised presentation. The final strand will look at possibilities beyond the basic LMS for including other related systems such as OpenURL resolvers and e-resource managements systems.
  • Outputs: A report outlining the technical issues faced by a consortium wanting to implement a shared LMS, taking into account local needs and related systems.

Work Package Four: The Content

  • Work Package Lead: Colin Sinclair, University of Stirling Library
  • Description: A shared LMS will need to be based on access to accurate descriptions of library content, in print and electronic forms. This work package will seek to build on work being done for SHEDL and the Jisc KB+ project on common e-holdings of Scottish HEIs. An analysis, by survey, will be carried out to quantify the number of electronic records available for local, print, holdings and their format. A shared LMS need not necessarily mean a shared or union catalogue; attitudes to this will also be surveyed.
  • Outputs: Report on common holdings of material in electronic form and a report on the results of surveying Scottish HEIs on catalogue record format and numbers of records as well as institutional view on union catalogue vs. separate catalogues on a common infrastructure.

Work Package Five: Evaluation and Dissemination

  • Work Package Lead: Stuart Lewis, University of Edinburgh Library
  • Description: Evaluation and dissemination activities will take place in two areas. Firstly activities will take place within and across all SCURL members, to ensure that thorough evaluation and dissemination of the findings are discussed at the regional level. Secondly further activities will be planned in liaison with the pathfinder synthesis project, to ensure that the reports are widely available and complimentary to the other projects’ outputs. The evaluation will take into account the visions and user feedback generated in work packages one and two, followed by a review of how systems and content issues may influence these. Related issues which span the main work packages, such as management, governance, and cost models will be included where possible.
  • Outputs: Evaluation report from SCURL, and dissemination of other project outputs.

Work Package Six: Project Management

  • Work Package Lead: Stuart Lewis, University of Edinburgh Library
  • Description: Ensure that the project is managed suitably to ensure that the project is completed on time, on budget, and in accordance with relevant requirements. The Project Manager will be the main point of liaison with the Jisc Programme team and the synthesis project.
  • Outputs: Project documentation to the standard required by Jisc, in accordance with Jisc practises and policies. This includes the project plan, project blog, interim reports, final report, and completion report.

Rick Analysis
A risk analysis of the project has been undertaken.  Risks include:

  • Staffing: All anticipated project staff are already in position. Lead site experienced in project management. Additional staff available from SCURL members if required.
  • Collaboration: This project has the full backing of SCURL. A collaboration agreement will be used, based on similar past initiatives.
  • Vendor engagement: Existing good relationships with LMS vendors can be built upon. Permission will be sought from vendors to make available their high-level ideas through the use of anonymisation and due regard to any non-disclosure agreements.
  • Project timing (summer): Some of the main work packages are scheduled to be undertaken over the summer period. The use of current staff and early planning should mitigate any issues.

The project has been awarded £30,000 from the Jisc, with an additional £9,952 provided by the institutions involved. This is apportioned as shown below: