OCLC and the South West Regional Library Service (SWRLS) today announced a collaboration that will initially see seven public library authorities in the South West of England using WorldCat Local as their shared end user discovery service in 2010.
Library authorities in Bournemouth, Bath & NE Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset, Somerset, South Gloucestershire and Plymouth are working with OCLC to implement a discovery interface that will enable users to search and place reservations on materials held across the South West region. The service is a replacement for Wisdom, formerly supplied by DS Ltd, now part of the Axiell Group. By adopting this approach, the libraries will also raise their profile on the Web by becoming visible in WorldCat.org, the Web destination for discovery of library resources.
Rob Froud OBE, Head of Cultural Service at Somerset County Council and Chairman of the SWRLS Management Board said of the announcement: “We opted to work with OCLC because we sought a service our library customers would view instantly as highly attractive and easy-to-use. Our library staff are also served by having a solution that is technically robust and simple to implement.” Asked whether he felt other libraries in the region might join at a later stage, Mr Froud said: “Other libraries have expressed an intention to join and it is our hope they will do so soon, but we are very happy with the initial roll-out as it is another demonstration that the model of collaborative working across public library authorities is thriving.”
The libraries, through their participation in UnityUK, are already regularly updating their bibliographic and holdings information, which OCLC then uploads to WorldCat. This facilitated records transfer has opened up the potential for them to utilise services built on the WorldCat platform, including WorldCat Local. The seven SWRLS libraries will have their own individualised Web discovery interface reflecting their libraries’ branding and holdings switched on. Each interface will also present real-time holdings information from the other participating libraries to quicken the time it takes for users to locate items of interest. Requests will then be managed by the libraries’ underlying management systems, in this case Axiell’s Galaxy and Talis Alto. Inter-library loan requests by SWRLS libraries are managed by UnityUK.
The decision by libraries in the South West to adopt WorldCat Local as a shared service comes at a time when public libraries across the country are joining up service provision. In September, the Society of Chief Librarians announced an initiative to allow members of a library to borrow books from any of 4000 libraries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. And, as has been widely reported, the government is planning a national request service backed up by home delivery in an attempt to reinvigorate the public’s perception of libraries.
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