JISC Library Management System Review

The JISC and SCONUL have just released a Review (Horizon Scan) of Library Management Systems (LMS or ILS). Intersting stuff. A lot of stuff to be expected, and some interesting findings:

  • Dire need to embrace web 2.0 and to get OPACs out of the 90s
  • The need to intergrate with campus systems such as Financial and registry systems.
  • Open Source is used within current systems, and as systems in their own right, the latter have no real penetration in the UK market and are unlikely to do so in the short term (lack of advantages), and are not currently more ‘open’ than other systems.
  • Most major systems are much of a muchness (they put it far more elegantly, though after glancing through 100 odd pages I’m not much inclined to find each quote), little reason to change system at the moment. Especially as…
  • It is a good time for the role and definition of a LMS to be looked at.
  • We are already moving away from the ‘one big system approach’ i.e. Aquabrowser, ERMs and Metasearch are all separate products. Almost certainly going to move in this direction, and this is a good thing. This requires standards and cooperation for different systems to talk to each other.
  • UK market is small compared to global market, though not that different to the norm, except for BL ILL server and our concept of Short Loans.
  • Libraries have not made good use of looking at how users work and interact with their systems.
  • There is a need and movement to liberate data (silios and all that)
  • LMS may become a back of house system (though this should not be seen as a bad thing)
  • Recommends that libraries increase the value of their investment by implementing additional services around the LMS. Which is fine if these new services are using standard protocols to interact with the LMS, if their are using proprietary api’s or talk direct to the database then it is another thing to lock the library in to one provider (or at least, another reason why changing LMS will have a large impact).
  • Procurement process is overall expensive, especially when LMSs are more or less the same-ish.
  • Encourages libraries to review their contracts (ie not changing system, just getting more – or better value – out of the current system with better contract).

One thing that interested me were the Vendor comments (and something the report reccommends to libraries) on the lack of consortia in the UK, and noted that other countries make good use of this (ie this is best practice). I can certainly see scope for this, especially as (like the report notes) the software has already been designed to handle consortiams.But what would the consortiams be? geographic based (London? South East? M25 group? Scotland) or perhaps using other groupings (Russel group, 94 group, CURL). Or perhaps smaller groupings based on counties or similar institutions.

I’ll quote two bullet points in their reccommendations:

  • The focus on breaking down barriers to resources is endorsed, involving single sign on, unifying workflows and liberating metadata for re-use.
  • SOA-based interoperability across institutional systems is emphasised as the foundation for future services and possibly the de-coupling of LMS components

The report also says “Libraries currently remain unconvinced about the return on their investment in electronic resource management systems.” Not really, we’re just waiting for a good one to come to market :)

I like a comment from one of the reference group “Since around 2000 there has been a growth in the perception of the library collection not as something physical that you hold, but as something you organise access to.” Nothing new, but nicely put.

Report can be found here [pdf], took ages to find where it is on the JISC website (JISC website? confusing? surely not!), but it is here (and the key item – the report – is at the very very bottom of the page (why?). I originally found the report via Talis’ Panlibus blog.

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