Friday, 28 October 2011

LMS Announcement

At the Local Government Association (LGA) AGM this morning LGA President, Mayor Kym McHugh announced that Sirsi Dynix had been chosen as the supplier for the Library Management System for the SA public libraries consortium.  Mayor McHugh paid tribute to the strong partnership between the LGA, the Libraries Board and the State Government who have worked together to ensure that this transformational project will proceed.  He also noted the active involvement of over 80 staff from public libraries who participated in the evaluation process.

While the accompanying media release does focus on the money side of things - i.e. savings, it did include a great quote from Minister Hill who said "I urge anyone with an image of dusty bookshelves in their minds to visit their local library - they will discover vibrant centres with online access and services for all ages." 

The consortium will deploy the Symphony LMS and the Enterprise discovery solution, along with "enriched content" and reporting tools Web Reporter & Director's Station.  The Symphony Facebook App will also be available for libraries.  One of the strengths of the chosen solution is the proven ability of the product to support a consortium approach which allows for high levels of local flexibility for consortium members.

A contract with Sirsi Dynix is in the final stages of negotiation.  Once this has been completed we (the Libraries Board and the Local Government Corporate Services) will be in direct contact with councils and libraries to put formal offers to councils regarding participation in the consortium.

The Libraries Board is looking forward to supporting the State's public libraries in implementing a new system which will provide increased access and new services for the public of South Australia.  To quote Jenny McDonald of the National Library of New Zealand at yesterday's Libraries Australia forum, "We lower the barriers to access for customers and just watch the usage grow."

Thursday, 27 October 2011

PLS Standing Committee - new members

The LGA put a call out a few months ago for new members of the PLS Standing Committee.  I'm delighted to announce that the LGA has put forward Louise Mrdjen or Port Lincoln & Sandra Skinner of Playford as new committee members.  I look forward to working with them both in this capacity. 

The PLS Standing Committee is a committee of the Libraries Board which is identified in the Memorandum of Agreement as having a role to advise the Libraries Board on its role in relation to public libraries, including the allocation of grants to councils.  It has also played a role as a sounding board and the incubator for a range of key directions for the public library network.  For me the committee also serves as a really good place to test ideas & utilise the wisdom and different perspectives of people from a range of backgrounds.  I find it an invaluable source of balance and expertise. 

Governance - beyond "transition"

On Wednesday I wrote about the governance of the LMS project during the implementation process.  As you can see from the diagram on 10 October there is a final phase beyond implementation when we will close down the Transitional User Group, and move to the final ongoing User Group model.

It is likely that this transition will happen in about 3 years - when we're through all or most of the implementations.  At this stage we will move to an ongoing User Group model.  The PLS Standing Committee has endorsed indicative terms of reference for this Group, but they will be reviewed by the Standing Committee prior to be activated in a few years time.

The major change in this environment will be the membership and representation  approach for the User Group.  In consultation with the LGA we have designed a model, based in part on the way that the LGA constitutes its State Executive. Each LGA country region will nominate one member to the User Group.  These will be matched by an equal number of metropolitan nominees.  A Chair will be elected from within this group.

This approach will ensure that people will know who their local representative is. People will either have a seat at the table - or be only be one step removed from the decision makers - having nominated and voted for their local representative.

Each representative will be elected for a 2 year period and can serve for a maximum or 2 terms before someone else in the region must be elected & appointed.  This ensures that the committee stays fresh and over time a number of people have the opportunity to participate in the decision making.

The need to have decisions ratified by the PLS Standing Committee remains, as does the membership of the User Group Chair on the Standing Committee.

We are conscious of the cost burden for people to travel to meetings, so we are looking at ways of addressing this so that people can participate without it being overly costly to do so.

As the implementation of this is still some way off, there will be opportunities to discuss more fully and fine tune this model.  I will be working with all in the network as the time for implementation draws closer.

Libraries Australia Forum

I spent the day at the Libraries Australia Forum at the National Wine Centre today with about 160 librarians from around the country.  Great venue & wonderful event!  Thanks to the staff of the National Library for everything.  There were some very useful presentations about where Libraries Australia & Trove are going.

There were also some really interesting presentations by Caroline Brazier, Director of Scholarship and Collections at the British Library and Jenny McDonald, Manager, Customer Engagement, National Library of New Zealand.  They were really good in showing us both what is happening in their countries & also looking at the future. 

The recordings from the day will be on the libraries Australia site in coming days. 
I know that I will go back & have a second listen at some stage & I would encourage others to catch up with their talks when they're available.

Watch this space

Following consultation between the LGA, the Libraries Board and Minister Hill's office we're now ready to make the formal announcement about who the LMS supplier will be.  This will happen at the LGA AGM tomorrow.  As soon as it is out there publicly I'll post something here too.

While I know the name of the chosen company is an open secret around the libraries, we've had to wait for formal confirmation from the parties that they are confident in making the announcement.

We are still in contract negotiations with the supplier, however as we are down to the last few issues that we are confident can be resolved we're comfortable making the announcement tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Governance & decision making during implementation

It’s been a week since I posted about governance & decision making.  And I mentioned that I would post another article about the process during the implementation phase.  It’s taken me a week to get to it because I have spent 2 days on the Board tour, had house guests over the weekend, spent today hosting the Libraries Australia Advisory Committee.  And tomorrow I have to present a paper to the Libraries Australia Forum – so I have been preparing my paper during this time as well.

Anyway – I’ve finally grabbed a few moments to add the next instalment about this topic.

I want to talk about the section from the diagram of 18 October which shows the Transitional User Group reporting to the PLS Standing Committee.  This is the phase we are now moving into.  The role of this group is to assist the consortium to establish the ways that it will operate.  This will necessitate the members of the Group providing leadership, consulting widely across the network, reconciling diverse points of view, and providing feedback to all libraries about the decisions being made.

You will see on the diagram that the Steering Committee is transitioning its responsibilities to the PLS Standing Committee, and the the Interim User Group is transitioning into the Transitional User Group.  These changes are indicated by the dotted lines.

The Terms of Reference for the Transitional User Group can be found on the Intranet if you are interested in them.

I can’t stress enough that the role of the group is to consult and recommend rather than decide.  The Group will be making recommendations to the PLS Standing Committee which has the delegated responsibility from the Libraries Board to make decisions.  To ensure accurate communication the Chair of the Transitional User Group will be a member of the PLS Standing Committee.
The initial group of people on the Group will be the managers or representatives from each of the “Year 1” libraries, along with several libraries who were represented on the Interim User Group – who are not in the year 1 group.  This will ensure continuity, and diversity in the Group.

The Libraries Board’s aim for this project is 100% participation by libraries over time.  Therefore it is important that those libraries not participating in year 1 are consulted and their voices are heard.  This will ensure that everyone feels that they have had an opportunity to influence and argue for particular positions that they may have.  Obviously, members of any group endeavour will not always get 100% of what they want, but they need to be given opportunities to influence decisions.

The Group meets for the 1st time next Monday, where some preliminary work will be done on some high level policies.  In the first instance there will be a look at existing policies and practices within our network to see whether we can align LMS consortium practices with current intent.  We will also map out a process for communication and what other decisions needs to be made in coming months.  Some of these decisions will be critical to allowing the supplier to configure the LMS database.

Once the group has met we will let everyone know the “where to from here” in the medium term.

I should add that as we move into subsequent years we will be looking to ensure that each library joining in a particular year will have a the option of a seat on the Transitional User Group.  That way, as we move from year to year all participating libraries will have an opportunity to participate in the decision making process.  At the end of the formal implementation phase we will move to the final User Group model which I will write about soon.

Libraries Board Tour - new Board Chair

I mentioned on 10 October that the Board would be on tour in the Mid-North. Well the tour is over & it has been another very positive trip for Board members. We travelled over 700 Kms and visited 8 libraries in 2 days as well as conducting a Board meeting.

As always we were greeted with wonderful enthusiasm & hospitality, and we got to see ongoing changes in each of the libraries we visited.  And the presentations by library managers about what was happening locally, and what was planned for the future helps the Board to have a sense of what the issues and successes are. Also having an opportunity to catch up with Council staff members, Councillors and school staff (in SCLs) also provides additional information.   Libraries Board members also came home with local produce they purchased which included eggs & olive oil along with a few raffle tickets.  This is a general and additional "thank you" to all who we visited and caught up with. 

We were also informed that James Bruce (current Board member) had been appointed as the incoming Chair of the Board.  As this was James' 1st tour he assiduously took notes and had many insightful questions and comments about various aspects of library operations and policy.  I look forward to working with James in coming years in supporting public libraries and in visiting more libraries on coming tours.  I think the next one is to the Riverland.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Problems with comments

I'm not sure why, but the "comment" function on this blog isn't working at present.  I have trawled the Blogger self-help site for answers & tried a few fixes - to no avail as yet.  But I will persist to see if I can get it fixed. 

In the meantime for those of you who have contacted me about the disabled comments function if you want you can email me your questions & I will post them. (It seems that as the blog owner I can post - but no one else can.)

LMS Governance & Decision Making (part 1)

I mentioned the other day that we have been working on ensuring that we have the correct governance and decision making processes.  As I have mentioned in a number of forums and documents, this work has been ongoing, since before the Request For Proposal was issued, & it continues to evolve.  We have worked with the Libraries Board, the Local Government Association and the Public Libraries SA Executive to ensure that we have the structures and processes that allow for effective consultation and decision-making.

Rather than creating a whole new decision making process we have used both existing Libraries Board decision-making structures and utilized existing mechanisms which are used in local government as much as possible to establish how decisions will be made regarding the LMS establishment, configuration and longer term management.

The structures and processes are best viewed at a high level using the table below.  While no diagram is perfect or can explain everything, it is a good place to start. 

On the left hand side of the table you can see the processes that were in place during the procurement phase of the project.  The Libraries Board established a Steering Committee, which signed off on an Evaluation Plan (EP) and managed the Request For Proposal process.  The Steering Committee utilized an Evaluation Team to undertake the evaluation of the various RFP responses.  As identified in the EP the Evaluation Team established a number Subject Matter Expert groups (the red boxes) that provided advice to the Evaluation Team.  This process has stood us in good stead in ensuring wide engagement in the process, with coordinated access to many experts who could provide their expertise to the process.

Towards the end of the evaluation process the Steering Committee established an Interim User Group.  The role of this group was to identify all of the questions that we would need to answer to ensure that we have a consortium that has a set of known policies, procedures and processes that will govern interactions between libraries and with library customers.  This group was not asked to answer these questions, but to identify what the questions were.  The significant question which hung over the work of this group was which decisions would be made locally and which would be made as a consortium.  The other issue was, “What is the capability of the (at that time unselected) LMS to deal with complexity and diversity?”  The membership of this group was self-selecting through an expression of interest process that was open to all in the public library network.  This group has done a great job in asking the questions that we now need answers to. 

So we’ve now got to the conclusion of the procurement process & we know what the LMS can do.  So on this basis we will soon be moving from procurement to implementation.  I will provide a similar post soon about the decision making process during the implementation phase of this project, where the Transitional User Group will operate & then follow it up by writing about the final shape of the governance and decision making process post implementation.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Busy understanding the LMS functionality

On my Tuesday post I mentioned that amongst other activities we have been looking at the LMS software’s capability in greater detail.  We’re doing this so that we can understand what the consortium’s options are regarding rules governing library operations.  PLS staff have worked with technical experts from some of the early adopting libraries and staff from the vendor this week.  We’ve spent over 8 hours across the last 3 days in the PLS meeting room working through details with a vendor representative who was on the phone, and managing the image that was on our screen.

We have worked our way through how to establish and manage the rules around collections, borrowers, serials and acquisitions and how these sets of rules interact to produce the permissions for who can borrow what, for how long & what happens when items are due back (fines, no fines, notices etc.).  This has included how to set up permissions to manage and fulfil reservations across the consortium, notifications re reservations etc.

We are now much more confident that we understand how the system works, what our options are and what decisions we will need to make regarding system set up.  We have identified that in almost all situations there are opportunities for flexibility and variable options for each library.  So we’re comfortable about how the system works and that it has the flexibility to accommodate considerable diversity amongst consortium partners if this is what we want to do. 

We’ve also discovered some additional features and more options that we were not totally aware of during the evaluation period.

We are also pleased to note that there is virtually nothing that will be done in the initial set up that cannot be changed over time.  This will allow us to both modify the system as additional libraries join, or as the consortium chooses to alter its practices over time.

However as a consortium we still have lots of decisions to make regarding overarching policies related to how we want the customer experience to be.  From some of my earlier posts, and the comments that they attracted it is obvious that we may all have slightly different views in these areas.  While we can all agree on statements such as “we will deliver outstanding customer service” how this is translated into policies and procedures that govern outcomes for customers may be slightly different depending on our own personal or organisational perspectives.

So – how do we progress this?  Well we now have the key parts of the decision making structure in place & I will talk more about the details of this in a forthcoming post.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

LMS - moving forward

I've just realised that its been several weeks since I have posted about progress on the LMS project.  

Part of the reason for not posting is because we've been really busy on a number of fronts.

We're currently working on the legal agreements required to ensure the successful implementation of the project.  We're finalising three legal agreements, which are:
  1. the software agreement between the Local Government Corporate Services (LGSC) (who will be the principal for the purposes of software ownership), and the Vendor for the purchase of the software and services.
  2. an agreement which will be signed between participating councils and the LGCS.
  3. an agreement between the Libraries Board and the LGA/LGCS for the operations of the LMS both during the procurement & implementation stages and during the operation of the LMS post the implementation for each council. 

We've also been busy on several other fronts.  We've been working on:
  • finalising the governance & decision making structures, 
  • working with the vendor on understanding the software's capabilities to establish how our consortium will operate, 
  • developing a change management strategy to support libraries,
  • preparing to advertise for a new staff member who will have library system expertise,
  • contracting for external project management resources to support the LMS roll out, 
  • developing our communications strategies, and 
  • working on the ICT requirements to support deployment.

In the interests of brevity I will not comment on all of these sub-projects here, but will comment on each of these aspects in the next few posts. 

Monday, 10 October 2011

Libraries Board 2011 country tour

The Libraries Board will be undertaking its annual country tour on Thursday & Friday next week. This tour will take us through libraries in the Mid-North. Specifically the Board will visit Clare, Burra, Peterborough, Jamestown and Port Pirie on Thursday, and then Port Broughton, Snowtown and Balaklava on Friday.
As is customary, the Board will hold it's meeting over breakfast on Friday morning.

 This tour will be the first in 21 years that does not include former Board member Janice Nitschke. I would like to pay tribute to Janice who has represented library practitioners on the Board for as long as most of us can remember. Janice's commitment will be remembered not just because of her active & successful representation of the sector but also for her dedication. The number of times that Janice has got up at 4 am to drive to "town" as the airport was fogged in are beyond counting. And her flights, attendance at meetings in Adelaide or staying in town to carry out network business have been a real service to us all. Janice's championing of "the country" has been a consistent part of her service, and her unstinting service for "the network" needs to be recognised by all within the network.

 Janice has also been, and continues to be a mentor to so many in the network. I am sure that with the "spare" time that she now has Janice will actively use her experience to continue as a mentor to many.

 Changes to State Government Board regulations mean that in future Board members can serve for a maximum of 8 years. While I appreciate Janice's dedication over several decades I also support the notion of regular renewal on the Board and the opportunities for changes in representation. The changes in regulations also mean that the number of Board members will reduce from 9 to 8.

I would also like to acknowledge the leadership of Dr Peter Goldsworthy AM who has been Libraries Board Chair since 2002. Peter's last meeting will be while we are on the mid-north tour.

 Peter's time is precious - as he spreads himself across his medical practice, his role as a successful, internationally recognised author and his additional duties including chair of the Libraries Board. Despite this busy schedule Peter has managed to juggle his commitments & travelled the State meeting with people in public libraries and leading the Board's considerations of public library and State Library matters.  Under Peter's leadership the Board has been so supportive of the State-wide LMS project as well as managing the GFC's impact on the Board's investments as well as some positive outcomes on a number of other State Library issues.

 We will see a number of other changes to Board membership over the next 6 months. I will keep you posted regarding these changes as they occur.

Friday, 7 October 2011

New Library Consortium in New Zealand

Following visits to New Zealand over the last couple of years I have been aware that the National Library of NZ and the public library network have been working on a consortium approach for some of the country's public libraries.  Work started in 2007, and they have just launched this consortium, called "kōtui" - a Māori word which means to interlace or interweave.  The first library service to join was Marlborough, which started in 29 September.

Information about kōtui can be found here and here.

This consortium will start with 14 local government authorities (45 libraries and 5 mobile libraries) but extend beyond this initial group over time.

The consortium has chosen the Sirsi Dynix Symphony LMS to manage their physical collections, and has chosen EBSCO's Electronic Discovery Service to manage their digital materials. The LMS will be hosted in New Zealand.

This consortium will be quite different to what we are building here in SA.  The participating libraries are not necessarily geographically related, with libraries spread across the country. They will gain the benefits of a modern LMS and e-resource tools in a hosted environment, but at this stage there is no facility for collection sharing through inter-library loan.

We will keep in contact with our NZ colleagues as it is likely that we will be able to learn from each other as we develop and grow our respective consortia.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

National Public Library Statistics

The PLS Standing Committee met yesterday.  Among the papers it considered was the just released Australian Public Libraries Statistical Report for 2009 -2010.

The report is about to be loaded to the Intranet (where previous year's reports already reside), and is already available on the NSLA site here.  Some interesting features from an SA perspective include:
  • Loans showed growth over 4 years, but dropped back in 09/10, perhaps due to several larger busy libraries being closed for extended periods for rebuilds.  We'll need to keep an eye on this figure!
  • SA continues to have the highest loans per capita of any state or territory (11) and the highest visits per capita (7.3)
  • Funding per capita is highest in SA - over $9 above the national average, and over $6 higher than the next highest funded State.
  • Expenditure on library materials is slightly above the national average.
  • Expenditure on electronic resources is below the national average, and the second lowest in Australia
  • The number of public Internet PCs has increased by 62% over the last 5 years, and SA is now ranked second, and well above average.  (This may explain some of the congestion and Internet speed issues that PLS is currently looking for solutions to.)
  • For states where there are comparable arrangements where State Governments are co-funders of libraries with Local Governments, the SA State Government's contribution is a significantly higher contribution than in other States (at 24% of total expenditure).
  • While the public library collections across the state are large (4.58M) and provide high numbers of items per capita (2.86) only 32% of the collection has been bought in the last 5 years.  This is the lowest replacement rate of any jurisdiction in Australia.
Of course averages, medians and means mask local variations for individual library services. So for the curious, it may be interesting to measure your service against both the SA and national averages.

One measure which I expect to see significant movement on in the next couple of years is the number and percentage of people who are active library members.  SA reports a figure of 53%, which is the highest in Australia, and 8% above the national average.  However all libraries count this figure by adding together all registered borrowers and dividing this by the population.  The advent of a shared LMS will see each library member only being counted once!  So those library users with 3 cards will be counted once, not three times in the future.  I can see our figures dropping substantially, but we can then report an accurate figure, with no double (or triple) counting!

Of course statistics are only one measure of how libraries perform, but they are one indicator of how things stand.  These figures seem to indicate that SA public libraries continue to have high recognition and use by our customers, and are relatively well funded by both funding partners.