Shared solution enables four Midlands authorities to save costs on library systems management

Black Country Libraries in Partnership sets innovative plans in motion to improve customers’ experience by signing a joint deal with Education Software Solutions (ESS) to supply and host their library management system (LMS) across four local authorities – Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Dudley and Walsall.

The managed solution will offer library customers a greater choice of stock while reducing the administration involved in managing the libraries. This will result in significant cost savings for the partnership on back office management and maintenance of hardware and software.

Robert Johnson, chief librarian at Wolverhampton City Council Libraries, says: “Customers are our prime focus, and the joint library management system will enable the library authorities to move towards a combined Black Country catalogue, a refreshed online presence and a single borrowing card for customers to use in any of the authorities’ libraries. 

“The hosted service means that the back-office maintenance is taken care of and routine administration is streamlined, which will free up staff and volunteers to spend more time helping customers get the most from their libraries.  With the ability to use the LMS from any internet enabled mobile device, our staff can move away from the counters, get onto the library floor and out into the community, signing up new members and answering their queries in a few taps of a tablet screen.

“From the outset, ESS understood the needs of the library consortium and worked closely with us to deliver a cost-effective solution to achieve our shared service vision. BCLiP see this signing as a pivotal step towards a more vibrant, innovative and accessible library service for the Black Country.”

Through its hosted LMS, ESS manages and maintains a library’s core system, eliminating the need for onsite hardware and maintenance overheads, and enabling libraries to run efficiently while significantly reducing the total cost of ownership. All systems and information are hosted at ESS's data centres, improving the security and accuracy of a library authority’s data.

Karen Reece, head of libraries at ESS Libraries, says: “Today’s libraries are catering for a technically sophisticated customer base with high expectations from their library service. A shared library management solution gives partnerships such as BCLiP the flexibility to pool their expertise, resources and purchasing power to deliver a better service to their communities.”