On Wednesday 30th January myself and Dominic Tate, attended the Library Systems Programme Meeting, held in Birmingham, to hear more on the progress of the other pathfinder projects and  the synthesis project LMS Change. It was a very valuable day.

From my perspective, developing ideas for Work Package 6 of the E-BASS 25 project, a couple of areas discussed really had resonance. Glyn Ryland from the Library Systems Shared Services Feasibility Study (Wales) spoke about different degrees of collaboration possible in sharing library management systems; from group purchase level, to complete integration with all members sharing a single LMS. This in turn prompted discussion of what resources get shared and to what degree; data, staff, systems? In the afternoon we broke into two groups, myself and Dominic were in the group which discussed the ‘overheads’ of collaborative work. We concluded that overheads can only be mitigated if you have decided, clearly what to share and to what degree and why.

These threads of discussion led me to re-examine my work on WP6. In considering e-books acquisition as a shared service, what elements are shared and to what degree? In my upcoming report I will discuss the difficulties of managing data for PDA discovery.  The collaboration envisaged is one where there isn’t a shared library system, and each member could have differing requirements of the e-book data dependent on their available system; so in fact, although the collection might be in common the data is not. What kind of overheads might that incur? In discussing the management of financial information, the ‘overheads’ associated with not identifying the correct level of collaboration are also apparent. If each institution were to contribute a sum upfront, that would need to be administered centrally. Would the collaboration be able to share staff and data to achieve this? However, if local practice were to dictate that the contributed sum be accounted for in the individual institutional systems, the collaboration fragments so the physical payments might be done as a shared service, but the data about those transactions is treated separately, how prohibitive would the overheads become in this scenario?  It is certainly enlightening to look at the elements of e-books as a shared service in this manner and locate areas which might generate significant overheads.

Helen Guile – Kingston University