WHELF recently carried out a survey to audit library reciprocal access schemes in Wales. The survey was run as part of Strategic Aim 1 of the WHELF Action Plan: Student Experience to assess whether WHELF was meeting its objective to develop partnership access schemes in order to further the student experience and to ascertain what areas need further development in this area. A 10 question survey via SurveyMonkey was distributed and responses were received from eight institutions: Aberystwyth University, Bangor University, Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, National Library of Wales, Swansea University, University of South Wales and UWTSD.
The survey results revealed that the most widely used access scheme in Wales is Sconul Access with regional schemes such as Libraries Together and Linc y Gogledd also very popular. Walk in Access Wales, a recent WHELF project that allows the general public to access electronic resources at participating institutions was also widely used. The largest user group of these schemes are postgraduate students at 87.5%. The general public and undergraduates were in joint second place.
All respondents felt that the library access schemes were of benefit to their institution and their users/members. Additional benefits from the schemes included fulfilling gaps in providing service/resource provision to users along with offering greater choice to staff and students not just in terms of providing access to materials but also offering choice in terms of study environments. The SCONUL Access scheme was seen to add value through offering equity and fairness of provision across institutions. Access schemes were also seen as a useful promotional tool for the University providing benefits to the immediate local community through offering bespoke schemes and regional access schemes such as Libraries Together and Linc Y Gogledd are connecting sectors (HE/FE/public libraries) and areas together by offering a service that covers a wide geographical region.
So, where next? The survey provided WHELF with some useful feedback on developing library access scheme provision including:
- the need to provide better signposting to the access schemes through making the membership offer more coherent for users e.g. outlining what’s available where;
- the need for WHELF members take a more ‘joined-up approach’ to provision of access schemes and any address gaps in provision for undergraduates;
- to provide clearer guidance on schemes e.g. through the provision of a single information portal via the WHELF blog;
- address gaps in provision for access to e-resources;
- map the current schemes to see where the gaps are particularly in terms of reciprocal borrowing.
- better targeting/promotion of the existing schemes;
- finding an appropriate access scheme for the NLW to join
In order to address these issues a WHELF working group will be meeting in September. Progress will be reported on via the WHELF website.