About LMS Change

In this section you can find out about

The Project

The LMS Change project is part of the JISC funded Library Systems Programme (http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/di_informationandlibraries/emergingopportunities/librarysystems.aspx) which ran between June 2012 and February 2013.

The project took a phased approach to assess past, present and future aspects of HE Library Management Systems (LMS) requirements, seeking to develop an understanding and instantiation of future library systems infrastructure.

  • Synthesis: review of previous reports, project outcomes and experiences from the library systems environment in the UK and overseas.
  • Landscape: engagement with the ‘pathfinder’ projects from the current JISC programme, with the collaboration partners and with other relevant initiatives and entities within the wider environment.
  • Evaluation and scoping: analysis of the emerging options in order to scope the proposed service(s) and infrastructure.

It was agreed from the start that the ambition of the project should be to produce a single yet necessarily multi-faceted resource for library services – so we hope what you find here is useful. In addition, along the journey, the project maintained a blog at http://lmschange.info and used the hashtag #jisclms.

The Contributors

The LMS Change project was collaborative in intent and reality – which adds to the value of its outputs, principally this resource.

The project was led by the University of Westminster, working in partnership with Ken Chad, David Kay and Owen Stephens. Suzanne Enright (Head of service at Westminster) acted as the Project Director and David Kay (Sero Consulting) as Project Manager.

The JISC programme, within which LMS Change played a light touch synthesis role, involved six funded projects, most of which investigated shared service propositions:

  • Cardiff and Edinburgh worked with consortia in Wales and Scotland respectively to consider shared library management systems
  • Huddersfield investigated how a community service (KB+) might interoperate beneficially with a new generation local library system (Intota)
  • King’s College London, Mimas, RLUK and Senate House Library worked together on shared collection management
  • Royal Holloway led an M25 investigation of eBook PDA

In addition the programme was linked to with complimentary work in the Bloomsbury group of libraries (http://www.blms.ac.uk) and the Open University Library (http://www.open.ac.uk/library/new-tools).

As well as working with the ‘pathfinder’ projects, the project has established a Collaboration Group of eight university libraries – Birkbeck, Cambridge, the Open University, Stirling, Swansea, UCL, Westminster and Wolverhampton. These libraries represent a range of institution types, sizes and consortium relationships, as well as current LMS choices. Furthermore at the time of the project, they were all involved, currently or imminently, in making LMS choices, some of them considering shared service options.

The Aspiration – so what were we trying to achieve?

Without doubt, as an individual time limited project (and even as part of a bigger programme) we cannot change the library services or even systems landscape. In reality it’s a complex ‘ecosystem’ involving significant dependencies within and beyond the institution and the sector.

However we recognised that there has for some years been much necessary talk of ‘step change’ in the way IT can support and even redefine / extend / squeeze the library function (for librarians, for students and researchers, for the global public). This talk is often fuzzy, involving much ‘hand waving’ – essentially tactical rather systematic. It is often expressed in terms of a particular vendor catchphrase or a current programmatic vision – Unified Resource Management, Web-scale services, an Open Library Environment, the squeezed middle … and the one you invented that we forgot!

Our intention – and our vision of success – was to operate at a level removed from that branding battlefront and the attendant features fascination (without indulging in unhelpful abstraction) in order to define a framework for constructively assessing the ‘library service platform’ requirements of academic libraries, whether acting individually or looking to shared / above-campus services.

The perspective expressed by Ken Chad strikes a strong chord in this respect:

I’m rather against the detailed functional RFP process myself – maybe part of that is the scars I still have from working for a variety of vendors for over 20 years and writing responses to tenders/RFPs … More recently, as a library consultant I have worked with quite a few libraries to help them determine requirements and I try to avoid detailed feature lists – and yet it seems libraries still seem to cling on to them.

The laudable aim of the UK Core Specification (https://libtechrfp.wikispaces.com/LMS+ILS+Specification) was to have a fixed, defined list that vendors knew and could ‘comply’ with (a bit like saying they comply with a certain technical standard). They would have their UKCS response ready made, out of the box. This made the process more efficient and meant libraries (and vendors) would then be free to concentrate on real differentiation. However that’s not how all libraries have used it.

In terms of the future of library systems and ‘next gen’ systems our sense is that libraries need broadly two things in this regard: the first is some kind of comfort level that these new and, as yet, not widely proven, systems will allow business continuity … secondly a growing awareness and appreciation of the importance of wider (including institutional) business needs.

Of course libraries will want to check off features in order to ensure ‘business continuity’, including some very specific local requirements such as UK ILL conformity.  However our project mission is to offer a framework that will help the ‘protagonists’ – libraries, wider institutional stakeholders, shared service partners, vendors – think through the wider positioning and scope of the library platform as a whole and of specific subsystems (such as those used for Discovery, Finance, Preservation, User Profiles, etc).

Consequently not all the rows of the LMS Change checklist map onto UKCS (or your last LMS RFP template) and we face the possibility that even those that do map might be delivered differently given the context of overlapping institutional and above-campus services.

And the measure of success? That real institutions should find this a useful resource not only for crafting their next systems RFP but also for determining their institutional systems strategy and shaping their shared service partnerships.

This Resource

One of the first comments of the LMS Change collaboration group was that we should shift the focus of the project from LMS (suggesting centrality of the traditional Library Management System – narrow and retro) to the broader requirements of a Library Services Platform (whatever that might turn out to be) … We all agreed and we hope the design and presentation of this resources website reflects that perspective.

For a quick overview of the available resources, take a look at the Site Map