The Rowan Partnership was formed in 2011 between the University of the Highlands & Islands (UHI), the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and SRUC. At the time of writing the first shared HE LMS in the UK was scheduled to go live in February 2013.
- University of the Highlands and Islands: 13 colleges and research institution, over 7,500 students, 200,000 items, Implemented Millennium in 2006
- University of West of Scotland: 4 campuses: Dumfries, Hamilton, Paisley and Ayr, 17,000 students, merged Talis system with SRUC in 2011
- SRUC (Previously Scottish Agricultural College): 3 main campuses: Aberdeen, Edinburgh & Ayr, 1000 students, shared Talis system with UWS
The Partnership use the Millennium (Innovative) LMS. UHI is comprised of 13 colleges and research institutions each of which have their own library service. As a result, a consortial set up, configured by Millennium, was already in place at UHI. Drivers for the Partnership were cost savings and the need to migrate from an existing LMS. Unexpectedly, Data migration from UWS and SRUC’s existing LMS was a big challenge and has caused delays in the project.
The Partnership employs a systems librarian, based at UHI. Anticipated benefits include cost savings, savings on maintenance, infrastructure. The three partner institutions pay a proportion of costs for annual maintenance instead of a single cost each. It is expected that there will be additional costs on the first year but after that significant savings for all institutions.
The model is deliberately flexible and uncomplicated. All partners are equal. Operational issues are managed by an Operational Group which includes a representative from each of the member institutions. The Ops group makes decisions and recommendations based on feedback from all partners which then go to a Steering group for approval.
Partners share a server environment, an LMS, bibliographic records, policies and a single patron database.
There is a cataloguing working group with experts from each institution which has agreed a shared cataloguing policy. Other shared policies will be developed as the Partnership evolves and users gain experience of the system.
To avoid having duplicate records of varying quality the Partnership share bib records. However, ebooks have proved a challenge – there is a single bibliographic record, but three URLS to access content using multiple authentication methods.
Each partner will have its own customised and branded OPAC landing page. On the initial screen, as expected, search defaults to the home institution. On the results page, the drop down menu will display all institutions locations. This is not a choice the Partnership has made but a compromise, as the system, Millennium, cannot supress collections. Initially, there will be no shared access to collections but the partnership will consider this for the future.
Taining and Support
1st line support is provided locally by the Operations group then escalated to the UHI helpdesk. The systems librarian liaises with Innovative on behalf of the Partnership. There is a file sharing website where documentation, schedules and user guides are stored and made available. Innovative conduct a programme of training which is then cascaded.
Challenges have been both technical and cultural as systems, work practices and people have had to integrate with the new LMS.
- Migrating data from existing LMS
- Integrating three student registries and manipulating data.
- Three academic calendars: finding a suitable time to take system down
- Working with multiple authentication systems
- Managing communication and training across institutions
Ahead of the system launch it is impossible to be certain of all the benefits to be gained from the Rowan Partnership’s shared LMS. However, the first immediate benefit was the creation of the joint Systems Librarian post. Another key benefit will be reduced maintenance costs. Savings are also made through sharing infrastructure and support.
All partner institutions benefit from the expertise of the dedicated Systems Librarian based at UHI.
Partners benefit from their shared and collective expertise and knowledge to create more efficient work practices and their own support community.
Collectively, the institutions will have a stronger voice when it comes to negotiating with vendors.
For the user this should translate into a better user experience and access to a greater range of resources.