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Library shared services

Libraries-a shared services success story

Libraries systems appear to be one of the success stories of shared services in local government. At July 2109 over 90 Library authorities (around 45%) were part of one kind of shared Library Management System (LMS) shared service. As many library authorities are already shared services it means that over half of the UK councils are in a shared LMS. There is a national shared service (for discovering books and resources) and by 2015 over a quarter of UK *Library* authorities (representing a higher share of councils) share a library system. Some like the selms consortium and The London Libraries Consortium are very large indeed. Some shared services, like the September 2015 contract for a library system for Wales, are national in scope. The Welsh initiative anticipates savings of 60-70%.

London Library Consortium

London Libraries Consortium: partnership working

Case study from:Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Part of:Libraries shaping the future: toolkit and case studies and Library services Published:30 November 2016

“The London Libraries Consortium (LLC) is a business partnership of 18 London public library services committed to delivering excellence and providing value for money. This is is done by sharing resources in IT, stock management, staff development, training and using shared contract opportunities.

The LLC’s vision is to be “the leading player in the success of the nation’s libraries; a powerhouse for new ideas for what libraries can deliver and the way that they work; and the most efficient and cost-effective provider of shared libraries support services.”

Single digital presence for UK public libraries

"British Library to investigate possibility of a ‘single digital presence’ for UK public libraries" BL Press Release Wed 30 Aug 2017The British Library is to lead an 18-month scoping project to establish the demand for and possible shape of a ‘single digital presence’ for UK public libraries.

Funded by Arts Council England and the Carnegie UK Trust, the project will investigate user expectations and demand for what a national online platform for public libraries might deliver, and will explore the network of stakeholder groups and organisations best placed to make it a reality.

Shared national digital platform for public libraries in England

This initiative was taken up by the Public Libraries Task Force and forms an action point in their report “Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016 to 2021”, DCMS December 2016

The Libraries Taskforce’s role is to provide leadership and help to reinvigorate the public library sector in England, as well as showcasing and promoting the excellent work already happening in libraries across the country. We were asked by Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Local Government Association (LGA) to develop this vision for the future of public libraries in England

“Supporting the development of the digital offer of libraries.” is action point 20 in the Task Force action plan

Explore the feasibility of a shared national digital platform for public libraries in England (Single Library Digital Presence) and then identify ways to develop, operate and fund it”

Essential Digital Infrastructure for Public Libraries in England.

A plan for moving forward.Prepared by BiblioCommons November 24, 2015

Commissioned by The Society of Chief Librarians in collaboration with The Reading Agency With funding from Arts Council England

Also known as the "Bibliocommons report

“This report argues that a standards-based digital platform is the only viable technology for realising recent strategic goals articulated by leaders for England’s public libraries. The platform would allow libraries and their partners to innovate, collaborate and share in ways they cannot now do. The report further argues that the primary mode of service on this platform must be co-production – among library authorities, and among library staff, national and local partners, and importantly, end users. We show how new digital divides have made the mission of libraries – literacy, learning, and community inclusion – as relevant as it ever was. And that in order to provide an energetic response, libraries must invite their users into their digital spaces: their catalogues, their websites, their ebook readers, their online events calendars. We argue that these two measures, a standards-based digital platform and co-production of services, will reinvigorate libraries and create substantial, tangible outcomes in literacy, digital and social inclusion, health, education, and economic participation.”

National Digital Platform for Wales - contract award

From the notice

“The National Digital Library Service will be a key feature on the website and will bring together some of the existing online resources already available via the website along with additional online resources which will enhance the offer.We are looking for a modern, fresh, dynamic website. We would like to improve the UX (user experience) and increase the online social engagement, re-creating the trusted, offline library experience in a new online public space.

The audience is both the public and library staff across Wales. The website functions not only as a virtual library e.g. access links to free e-books and e-magazines, search for a book across all Welsh library catalogues, but also as a place to find out about library campaigns and library news”

Estimated contract value £35,849

Sieghart on a national infrastructure for (English) public libraries

See:Future libraries, William Sieghart LGA website 19 June 2014

“It is possible to strengthen the service nationally without losing the local approach. My strong view is that part of the answer can be found through offering a digital network for libraries, which could include a single management system, one library card valid in all libraries in England,……Once set up, this network could also be a vehicle for improving the leadership of, and vision for, libraries; more joined-up procurement; the sharing of best practice and encouraging change – without conflicting with the need for local approaches. It could give users access to a much wider choice of materials…”

A national service for discovery and delivery of academic journal articles

Access to research

From January 2014, over 1.5 million academic articles are available, free of charge, in participating public libraries across the UK. Students, independent researchers and small businesses can now access many of the world’s best academic papers through their local libraries, a result of a unique collaboration between librarians and publishers, who have made their journal content available for free.

A national (UK public library) catalogue

See the 'National Catalogue'article for more information.

Bookmark your Library

This provides information on public libraries across the UK and includes a link to the national catalogue Fab Libraries launched in 2012

Fab Libraries

FABLibraries provides access to more than 149 UK public library catalogues in a single search. It will link you to the library’s own website, tell you if it is available so you can get your local library to borrow it for you, and will even show you library locations on a map and the distance from where you are.

OCLC and The Combined Regions (TCR) have announced plans to launch Britain's first freely accessible national public library union catalogue, the first of its kind in the country. (note this has morphed into fabLibraries -see above)

While the objective is to ultimately include all UK public libraries within the catalogue, initially, the project will provide a view of holdings contributed to WorldCat by the 149 local authorities with a current full package subscription to UnityUK. As the UK's only national network for resource sharing, UnityUK participants already provide regular updates of holdings records to WorldCat, which are intended primarily for inter-library loans purposes. This data, as it stands, will be used to provide an initial 'proof of concept' of the union catalogue for review by those UnityUK libraries with a full package subscription in spring 2011 (see timings below).

This preliminary version of the catalogue will then be extended to include other UK public libraries that do not currently have a full package UnityUK subscription and wish to join.

As a pre-requisite for the project, the holdings data of participating libraries will need to be made visible on the open Web through Having your collection discoverable virtually anywhere on the Web through was previously only offered to UnityUK participants as a chargeable service. Now, OCLC will provide this unique benefit as part of a full-package UnityUK subscription and has therefore been factored into the 2011 renewals with these customers.

UK public Library consortia/shared services

Black Country

The Black Country sits at the heart of England and covers 356 sq. It is home to over 1.1 m people.

Local Authorities included:

  • Dudley Metropolitan Borough
  • Sandwell Metropolitan Borough
  • Walsall Metropolitan Borough
  • Wolverhampton City,

Selected the Sierra Library system for : Innovative Interfaces Global Ltd Award notice: 12 February 2015. NOTE: This contract was cancelled and a new tender published in 2016 with the award going to Capita.


(Use the Axiell (was DS) Galaxy Library Management System)

  • Bedford Borough
  • Central Bedfordshire


Selected SirsiDynix in May 2014)

All 5 authorities will migrate to the new system during 2014-15. Currently consists of: (but is open to other authorities joining at a later stage).

  • Leicestershire
  • Derby City
  • Nottinghamshire (now “Inspire is a new, independent charitable organisation, set up to deliver cultural services from 2016”.
  • Rutland, but is open to other authorities joining at a later stage. All 5 authorities will migrate to the new system during 2014-15.

Gloucestershire and Swindon

(Based on the Capita -Chorus hosted system)

Gloucestershire County Council and Swindon Borough Council will use Capita’s library management software (press release September 2013)

  • Gloucestershire
  • Swindon

Greater Manchester

(Use the Civica Spydus Library Management System)

  • Blackburn with Darwen
  • Blackpool
  • Bolton
  • Bury
  • Manchester
  • Oldham
  • Rochdale
  • Salford
  • Stockport
  • Tameside
  • Trafford
  • Wigan

Libraries West

(Selected SirsDynix Symphony in July 2015 -moving from Axiell)

  • Bath & N. E Somerset
  • Bristol
  • Dorset (county)
  • North Somerset
  • Poole (borough of)
  • Somerset
  • South Gloucestershire

London Library Consortium (LLC)

(Selected SirsDynix Symphony in July 2018 -moving from Axiell)

  • Barking & Dagenham
  • Brent
  • Ealing
  • Enfield
  • Hackney
  • Havering
  • Kingston
  • Lewisham
  • Luton Culture
  • Merton
  • Newham
  • Redbridge
  • Richmond Upon Thames
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Waltham Forest
  • Wandsworth

Scottish Consortium of Public Libraries (SCoPL)

  • Angus
  • Perth & Kinross
  • Aberdeen City
  • Aberdeenshire
  • North Ayrshire
  • High Life Highland

Following a procurement exercise carried out by Tayside Procurement Consortium on behalf of the Scottish Consortium of Public Libraries (SCoPL) consisting of, Angus, Perth & Kinross, Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire and North Ayrshire councils as well as High Life Highland, the consortium has awarded a contract worth £1.5 million for a new library management system to Civica


(Based on the Civica -Spydus- Library Management System)

  • Brighton & Hove,
  • Buckinghamshire
  • Camden
  • Hammersmith & Fulham
  • Hertfordshire
  • Kent
  • Medway
  • Milton Keynes
  • Slough
  • West Berkshire
  • Windsor & Maidenhead
  • Wokingham


Selected Civica (Spydus library system) in 2012)

  • Cambridge
  • Suffolk
  • Norfolk (associate member in 2017)

Tri-Borough (London)

SirsiDynix Symphony system . London Boroughs of:

  • Hammersmith and Fulham
  • Kensington & Chelsea
  • Westminster


Welsh Government has awarded a single-supplier framework contract to SirsiDynix, one of the largest library management system vendors. The move could also save local authorities up to 70% on current costs, with all local authorities adopting one single system rather than each having individual ones, as is the current practice. The Welsh Government has announced plans for an all-Wales library card, which would allow users to access library services wherever they are in Wales. From the Tender notice (12 January 2015)

Supply and Implementation of Library Management System for Public Library Authorities in Wales.

Local authorities included:

  • Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council
  • Bridgend County Borough Council
  • Caerphilly County Borough Council
  • Cardiff Council
  • Carmarthenshire County Council
  • Ceredigion County Council
  • City and County of Swansea
  • Conwy County Borough Council
  • Denbighshire County Council
  • Flintshire County Council
  • Gwynedd County Council
  • Isle of Anglesey County Council
  • Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council
  • Monmouthshire County Council
  • Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council
  • Newport City Council
  • Pembrokeshire County Council
  • Powys County Council
  • Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council
  • Torfaen County Borough Council
  • Vale of Glamorgan Council
  • Wrexham County Borough Council
  • Grwp Llandrillo Menai
shared_services.txt · Last modified: 2019/07/17 21:49 by