I’ve been looking around the globe at the growth of library consortia. There are huge benefits to being a part of a consortium. Contracts and digital resources are managed by one authority on behalf of the rest, which helps to save resources locally. Increasingly, procurement takes place centrally, allowing all authorities access to explore contracts, software, apps and digital resources.
In the UK the TLC (The Libraries Consortium) is one of the biggest consortium of public library authorities in the UK, now comprising over 20 public library services sharing expertise, resources, and technology for libraries of today and the future. Importantly they build great partnerships with innovators and vendors.
The TLC thinks big and in looking for transformational change they see a new LSP as the catalyst to achieve this. LLC is keen to work with other library services that share this vision. – https://www.gov.uk/government/case-studies/london-libraries-consortium-partnership-working
The app is a great example of what can be achieved by working together
As well as the financial benefits, a huge strength of the consortium is the knowledge and expertise each authority brings and shares with the others. Not only at a strategic level, but also at an operational level. e.g.
- Share resources and increase access to physical stock and e-stock.
- Share good practices and expertise.
- Collaborate to obtain economies of scale.
This also allowed them to quickly respond during the COVID-19 outbreak e.g to waive library fines/extend loans and send out a consortium wide communication to all customers to advise on response to lockdown.
The aim of TLC’s partnership is to grow organically in line with key recommendations from industry and government experts to deliver a single digital presence to authorities nationwide. https://www.sutton.gov.uk/news/article/576/sutton-led_library_consortium_goes_from_strength_to_strength
In the US The SEO (Serving Every Ohioan) consortium is also a great example of this, located in Caldwell, a branch of the Ohio, it supports a consortium of 97 Library systems at 257 service points throughout 49 counties across Ohio using the OPLIN network. It supports a centralized shared catalogue database that includes over 8.1 million items with a patron database of nearly one million users, with an annual circulation of over 15 million.
Introducing Click & Collect Curbside Pickup with the SEO Libraries App. It’s Just like picking up groceries or your favourite takeout at the curb. Pick up some books and movies and “Stay In to Check Out.”
The SEO team provides all technical and software support, library policy-related services, and management of 3rd party vendor integrations for all 97 consortium members, alleviating them of the burden of specialized technology and software functions. SEO also provides and maintains training to state agencies and public libraries across Ohio.
The app is incredibly useful especially if you want to make your library experience even more convenient and safer than ever?
The SEO Libraries App – It really is this easy! Self Service Checkout Demo!
Here’s how it works:
It doesn’t get much easier than that!
The ‘soft power’ of consortia is also important – the relationship building, the trust, the sharing of learning and innovation that comes from working together over time is an important reason that such groups persist. Being part of a consortium opens a reassuring peer to- peer communication that doesn’t just require collaboration, but also demonstrates its value.
Libraries in Illinois came together to form the largest consortium in North America IHLIllinois Heartland Library System (IHLS) covers 28,141 square miles and serves a population of 2,248,634. There are 525 member libraries:
• 34 Academic
• 227 Public
• 234 School
• 30 Special
In 2011, libraries in the state of Illinois were at a crossroads. Four regional library systems, representing four sets of consortia, were experiencing financial constraints despite the growing needs of member libraries and their patrons. After discussing how the four independent organizations could work together, their initial strategy focused on sharing resources at the administrative level, creating the Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS). Upon diving deeper into their workflows and how to best serve their users, staff concluded they would select one platform and share resources as well!
THE CHALLENGE: To identify and implement a single library automation system that could satisfy the needs, expectations, and identities of over 400 libraries moving forward. Confident in their decision to move to an integrated library system, IIllinois Heartland began their search. Staff efforts were focused on three areas:
- Finding a platform that could handle the large amount of data from organizations of their size
- Scalable training methods to support a wide range of library types and sizes, across broad geographic regions
- A trusted partner, who would deliver seamless integrations with other third-party vendors https://www.iii.com/media/consortium-of-icelandic-libraries-selects-innovative-for-national-ils-solution/