WHELF Sharing Library Services
Sharing services and systems has been an area of increasing interest across WHELF organisations for a number of years and WHELF has a long history of implementing successful collaborative initiatives e.g. the WHEEL, WALIA, CROESO schemes.
Sharing a library management system (LMS) is seen as a potential area to drive further collaboration and is a key milestone of the ‘Shared Services’ strand of the WHELF Development Plan and a key part of the WHELF Action Plan 2011-13. An initial feasibility study was funded by CyMAL.
In July 2012 WHELF successfully obtained funding from JISC to explore the potential for a shared Library Management System across all higher education institutions and the NHS libraries in Wales. The Library Systems Shared Services Feasibility Study (Wales) would provide a practical vision and roadmap for a shared model; exploring opportunities for integration and collaboration across the WHELF community.
The Project has recommended that setting up an All-Wales Consortium with formal governance is the best option for provision of a shared service. This in practice will require the consortium to formally agree which processes, working practices and configurations will be adhered to by all members as a whole. A cloud solution hosted by a vendor (or open source vendor) is the preferred option, because this will provide the most cost-effective resilient solution.
Sharing Services and pursuing efficiency through greater collaboration is also a strategic priority that has been handed down to Welsh HE institutions from HEFCW as part of the “Reconfiguration and Collaboration” strategy.
Our strategic vision for the “Sharing Library Services Programme” is to enable access to the shared resources and services of a virtual academic library for Wales. Our ambition is that the Programme will have direct impacts on individual learners and/or citizens, learning institutions and Wales as a vibrant knowledge economy;
- Individuals will be able to exploit the shared services delivered directly to them,
- learning institutions (across the sectoral boundaries) will find it easier to collaborate for learning, teaching and research and
- Wales will have a visible platform for access to knowledge within & to Welsh businesses as well as showcasing the knowledge created in Wales to economic and political partners.
Sharing the procurement of electronic resources
Working with JISC Collections, WHELF has negotiated a groundbreaking deal with OUP – all WHELF libraries have access to the same collection of over 200 Oxford University Press journals online. This deal is a further development of the Wales Higher Education Electronic Library (WHEEL) – which already includes access to a shared e-books collection.
All WHELF libraries have now joined the Journal Usage Statistics Portal (JUSP). Diminishing budgets must demonstrate value for money, and reliable data is key. Comparative usage statistics help evaluate the impact of e-resources and inform future purchasing decisions.
On behalf of WHELF Bronwen Blatchford carried out a detailed survey of e-books in Wales, and Bangor has been funded by CyMAL to report on its trial of Demand Driven Acquisition (DDA) of e-books. In this model, the library offers access to a huge menu of content but only pays for material actually used by staff and students.
WHELF also pioneered a shared e-books collection which still provides access to over 700 e-book titles from NetLibrary. An article by Jeremy Atkinson and Paul Riley in SCONUL Focus gives the background to the project: Building on collaboration: the WHELF e-book deal. An E-books Exchange of Experience Day took place at UWIC.
Wales is the first country in the UK to jointly procure online news services for public and academic libraries. This joint procurement is co-ordinated by the National Library of Wales on behalf of Welsh libraries and helps reduce costs and deliver value for money. It is funded by CyMAL.
Widening access for students in Wales
WHELF pioneered two reciprocal access schemes, CROESO and WALIA, both of which have now been replaced by SCONUL Access, a UK-wide scheme. This allows full-time undergraduate students to use any other higher education library for reference purposes. It also grants borrowing privileges for most:
- academic staff on open or fixed term contracts.
- postgraduate research students registered for a PhD, MPhil or similar qualification.
- part-time, distance learning and placement students.
- full-time postgraduates.
Many libraries are also open to the public for consultation, and there are a number of regional partnerships in place which allow reciprocal borrowing between the various libraries. Students in Wales, in common with all other citizens, are already eligible to have free access electronically to the National Library of Wales, and the National Library is working hard to turn this eligibility into real use, with the aid of agreements with local libraries to create automatic membership.
The next challenge is to widen access electronically. Walk-in Access Wales was a successful WHELF project to enable members of the public to access electronic resources in Welsh HE libraries. The project had its focus on implementing a practical solution in pilot sites at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and developing a toolkit to help other Welsh institutions set up walk-in access in the future. Project partners included Cardiff, Cardiff Metropolitan, Aberystwyth and Bangor universities. The toolkit was published in English and Welsh in March 2013; copies can be downloaded from the blog: http://walkinaccesswales.wordpress.com/walk-in-access-wales-toolkit/
The Welsh Information Literacy Project
The Welsh Information Literacy Project, originally led by WHELF and hosted at Cardiff University, has completed its third year with all objectives successfully completed. The project is now hosted at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai with WHELF taking an active part in the steering group. In April 2013 the project, funded by CyMAL: Museums Libraries Archives Wales, moved into its fourth year.
During the year we were delighted to announce the launch of the Welsh Information Literacy Framework. The Framework illustrates how learners’ information literacy develops throughout education, offering suggested learning outcomes for information literacy from entry level through to doctorates. The structure of the levels has been inspired by the recently revised SCONUL Seven Pillars core model and is aligned with both the Welsh Skills Framework for 3-19 year olds in Wales and the Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales (CQFW).
To be information literate, a student must be able to recognise when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use it effectively. It is an essential skill for employment.
Sharing our expertise
WHELF is supporting a number of initiatives to ensure that specialist expertise is shared between the various higher education libraries in Wales:
- The Wales-wide Archives & Special Collections Group, aimed at librarians and archivists curating special collections, has a focus on mapping and digitising collections. Members collaborated this year in order to develop a successful Welsh bid to JISC and £500,000 has been awarded for mass digitisation of primary sources relating to World War One.
- The WHELF Copyright Group has a focus on sharing knowledge, advice and experience.
- ALIS Wales is a group of LIS professionals working towards the sharing and development of best practice in all aspects of disability support within Library and Information Service provision in the higher education sector in Wales.
Welsh Repository Network
Developed under the auspices of WHELF, the Welsh Repository Network (WRN) is a collaborative venture between the Higher Education Institutions in Wales to establish, develop and populate a network of interoperable institutional repositories. The vision that underpins the network is to facilitate and encourage resource sharing across the principality and to maximise the impact of Welsh research across the globe.
The establishment of the network was underpinned by the JISC funded WRN Start-Up Project (2007- 2009). Led by a team at Aberystwyth University, this project provided both fiscal and practical support to each WRN partner. A further two years of JISC funding enabled the WRN Enhancement Project (WRN-EP) (2009-2011), again led by Aberystwyth University, to build on this work. Coming to completion on 31 March 2011 the WRN-EP investigated the potential of a collaborative, centrally managed, model for accelerating the development and uptake of the repository services in Wales.
Theses Collection Wales
The Theses Collection Wales includes approximately 50,000 theses and dissertations which have been presented for postgraduate degrees in Welsh HEIs. The collection comprises theses and dissertations arising from PhD and research Masters degrees, as well as taught Masters dissertations which have a Welsh interest or have gained a distinction.
The vast majority of the current collection is in paper format, but electronic deposit is becoming increasingly common. Through the WRN every HEI in Wales has developed an institutional repository to store and provide online access to their research output, including electronic theses and dissertations – more commonly referred to as ‘e-theses’. In 2009 the NLW and the WRN began work on the ‘e-theses harvesting service.’ This service enabled the NLW to collect, through harvesting, copies of the full-text e-theses and to provide continued access to them through preservation management.
Anyone may search Theses Collection Wales but to access the resources within the collection it is necessary to register as a NLW reader. This will enable you to request to view a print copy of a thesis in the Library Reading Rooms or alternatively to view and download an e-thesis within the catalogue.
The origins of collaboration in Welsh academic libraries
The HELP (Higher Education in Libraries Partnership) project in 2004 confirmed the need for WHELF to take a leadership role in driving forward the collaboration agenda. Links to the detailed reports and summary can be found here:
Part 1: Summary Report
Part 2: Collaboration Review
Part 3: E-Learning Feasibility Study
Part 4: Journals Case Study and Journals Questionnaire
Part 5: Partnership Programme
Part 6: Executive Summary
With a little HELP from my friends: developments in Welsh academic library collaboration / Jeremy Atkinson and Elizabeth Kensler. SCONUL Focus, Number 33 Winter 2004.
WHELF: wherefore, whereto? / Elizabeth Kensler and Andrew Green. SCONUL Focus, Number 35 Summer/Autumn 2005 .