The little libraries that could: WA consortium shows the way forward

The Regional WA Library Consortium covers huge distances, taking in regions from Albany to The Pilbara (1800 Km), making it possibly the largest – geographically, group of local government libraries in Australia.

Kimberley Stoney: looking for a best-of-breed product

It’s all been made possible thanks to Civica’s Spydus – an integrated library management system featuring a modern, patron-centric discovery experience, mobile working, analytics, and fully integrated staff modules.

Starting out as a Spydus library hub in Albany servicing local libraries for a group of local government areas (LGAs) in 2018, the consortium has now expanded beyond the boundaries of this region, offering new opportunities for small local government libraries that don’t have the budget for a comprehensive library platform.

Library Systems Coordinator, Kimberley Stoney has been working at Albany Library for 14 years.

“Once we were told that our old library management system was an end-of-life product back in 2018, we knew it was time to look for a best-of-breed product with a vendor committed to continuous improvement,” she says.

“What we didn’t realise was how much our old system was holding us back.”

A virtual mother ship

Acting like a virtual mother ship, Albany Library organises all the contracts with Civica, pays the subscriptions for every library that is part of the consortium and then divides up the costs, invoicing each library based on population.

The main driving force for the libraries joining us is budget but also inhouse support – which many have never had before.

Kimberley Stoney, Library Systems Coordinator

Albany Library acts as library project officer, responsible for guiding the initial implementation and all ongoing communication with Civica.

“We also provide all of the training for the new library and are onsite during the go-live. After the go-live, we continue to offer all the ongoing support with our own help desk system,” Stoney says.

Benefits for borrowers and staff

Borrowers can go to any library within the consortium and become a member by simply scanning their card.

There’s no downside to joining our consortium, every library retains its individual brand and identity, while having a separate catalogue and online presence.

Kimberley Stoney, Library Systems Coordinator

Staff and patrons can also search online catalogues across the consortium libraries, and if an item isn’t available at their local they it can be shipped from another consortium library – to be picked up and returned at their local. This service is currently provided without an additional cost to library users.

Rapid growth

Regional WA Library Consortium currently has 11 LGAs made up of 17 libraries. Next year it will add another nine LGAs with also 17 libraries.

“By September next year we’ll have 20 LGAs in our consortium,” Stoney says.

“With Spydus there’s no limit to the size the WA Library Consortium can grow to, as long as we continue to strategically build in capacity at our end.”

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