Scotland’s consortia landscape


This report presents an overview of the current consortial shared LMS landscape in Scotland. It is by no means a definitive list of the collaborative work currently taking place across the country. Rather, it is an attempt to highlight the extent to which LMS services are already shared in Scotland through consortia and to demonstrate the variety and scope of benefits already enjoyed by users.

The section contains five descriptions of shared LMS services in Scotland and highlights existing benefits and advantages to users.  Click to access each description.

  1. Scottish Digital Library Consortium
  2. Glasgow Colleges
  3. Rowan Partnership
  4. SEDAR Consortium
  5. Find a Book

Our thanks to George Harkins and Jennifer Louden (City of Glasgow College),  Sheila Miller (Stirling Council), Gillian Hanlon (SLIC), Anna Enos (Rowan Partnership ), and Alex Forrest and Claire Knowles (SDLC) for taking time to speak to us about their services.


This section has highlighted different models currently in use across Scotland to deliver shared LMS services with consistently similar benefits to users.

All existing LMS sharing has been driven by the prospect of impending system migration and cost saving. This scenario has played out across sectors; when faced with a system at the end of its life- organisations, whether, FE, HE or local authority, have chosen to work collaboratively to procure, implement and support a replacement LMS rather than to go it alone. By doing so, they have demonstrated efficiency by sharing resources to avoid multiple lengthy and costly procurement processes.

There is not one model of sharing. Different models have evolved to meet users, institutions and library needs. All models have an in built degree of flexibility to accommodate members’ needs.

The SDLC and Glasgow Colleges Consortium are mature services, both offer a model based around central support and development. Separate client databases are maintained and OPACs are customised- there is no obvious indication the Library is part of a consortium. Members use the same system which is hosted by a founding member. Support is provided by a centralised System librarian or support team but work practices and policies are not standardised.

The more recently formed SEDAR and Rowan Partnership have moved beyond sharing infrastructure, maintenance, support and development to provide a shared LMS rather than a common system. Rowan and SEDAR both made conscious decisions to buy LMS that would support consortia and allow other members to join.

A great deal of time and effort has gone into standardising bibliographic records, policies and practices. The consortium is evident to users; SEDAR is displayed on the OPAC and users can search members’ catalogues from a single interface. When it’s launched Rowan Partnership users will also be able to search other members’ catalogues via the OPAC.

In the case of the SDLC, the Glasgow Colleges consortium and the Rowan Partnership the System administrators are fundamental to the success of the shared LMS. They act as the central point of contact for support and development requests. They co-ordinate upgrades, training and manage communications across the group. All members benefit from the knowledge and expertise of the Systems administrator.

Benefits for all institutions sharing an LMS are shared support and development costs, shared maintenance costs. Users benefit form more stable and reliable services and from development which their own institution may not be able to fund or have the expertise to undertake. Collaborative working allows smaller organisations and institutions to provide services to users they may otherwise be unable to.

A benefit of existing collaborative working is the collective bargaining power consortia and partnerships feel they have with suppliers and collectively they have a stronger voice with which to make development requests.  Using an open source solution offers the promise of greater control to libraries.

There is a culture of co-operation and collaboration in Scotland which crosses all sectors. A key benefit to emerge form shared LMS services is the opportunity it gives libraries to work together to build good working relationships and share experience.

Integrated collections and shared systems are improving the user experience, making it easier for users to search across collections and locate resources. Find a Book will benefit users by providing a way to seamlessly search all public, national library and university catalogues in Scotland. Institutions benefit as their collections are discoverable via a national, ‘Scotland branded’ service. SLIC will gather usage data to find out who and how people are using the service.  This could inform a future discovery layer of any shared LMS for Scotland.

No existing shared LMS service has tackled sharing access to resources. However, users have established routes via SCONUL access and Inter-Library Loans to access items. There may also be potential to make further use of the National Entitlement Card.

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