Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Bringing it all together

Back in June I wrote a post called Consortium, franchise, branch network or what? in which I attempted to articulate a philosophy for the consortium which both encompassed some degree of consistency while also encouraging local responses to local conditions.  Interestingly this post attracted the most number of comments (13) of any post to date.

Since then we have moved towards turning this into a reality.  Over a few posts on the 18th & 26th of October I laid out our governance and decision making processes.  I would like to comment on how these processes are working to date to achieve that balance of some universal consistency modified by localism.  Our Transitional User Group has been working to identify those areas where we need to have consistency, while also affirming those areas which will have local characteristics.  This process has seen issues considered by the User Group, which have then been put out in a paper for consultation to all across the network. 

The response to the first paper has been great, with comments and questions filling more than 7 pages.  Many of the responses confirmed the general direction the User Group was heading, with many also raising some points for consideration or clarification.  This feedback was considered by the User Group today & their deliberations will be considered for ratification by the PLS Standing Committee in early December.  As soon as we have ratification of the decisions we will be posting them for all to be aware of.  I will not pre-empt the Committee's decisions by discussing them here, but will talk about them later.

So - we're moving forward, with the long-standing philosophy of the network being challenged, and in some cases re-affirmed & in others modified to take advantage of new 21st Century technologies.  And we are ensuring that local autonomy is retained where it can be, while some consistency is included where required & for the customer's benefit.

One of the ways we propose to achieve this is to set some minimum standards which all will be expected to meet, while also allowing freedom for others to exceed these minimum requirements.  So - whether it is the minimum number of fields required in a borrower record, the minimum ID required to join up a new customer, the minimum standard for cataloguing or the minimum number of overdue notices we need to send we will all know what is the basic expectation of all libraries will be.  This will give us confidence that a customer from another library can borrow our items & we know where to send an overdue notice if required, or we can be assured that if I add my holding to a bibliographic record it is the correct one, etc.

Through this whole process the most important thing is that everyone has the opportunity to have a say in the process to ensure that the outcomes take account of the diverse views within our network.  This is a classic "wisdom of the crowds" situation where everyone has something valuable to add to the dialogue.  No-one will get everything that they want, but they need to be assured that their input is valued and considered as decisions are made.

Today's User Group deliberations will be out for consultation later this week.  I would encourage everyone to read the paper and provide responses to Jo.  This will ensure that the wisdom of the crowd gets the best outcome for the customer and library staff!!

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