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Scottish Higher Ed Libraries Partner To Share Services

A college and two universities in Scotland are partnering to share technologies in an effort to cut costs and increase services. The government has asked all higher education institutions to consider shared services to help with the nation's bottom line.

University of the West of Scotland (UWS), Scottish Agricultural College, and University of the Highlands and Islands began discussions in 2011 and have agreed to offer shared library services using Millennium ILS created by Innovative Interfaces. UHI was already using the system.

The change means students at all three schools will have access to more than 700,000 items. The schools will also use the integrated enterprise resource management system.

The Millennium ILS consists of several components:

  • Millennium Acquisitions, which combines ordering and invoices and offers automatic creation of order records when a new bibliographic record is generated, along with two electronic data exchanges to connect libraries to book and media sellers;
  • The Circulation module, which lets patrons know items are available in real time in the online catalog, request books, reserve rooms, and check out technology such as laptops;
  • Cataloging, which allows staff to change and improve metadata descriptions of both print and online collections;
  • The Serials module, which allows for the creation of reports and updating of multiple batches; and
  • Management Reports, which provide circulation numbers, authentication information, vendor and fund activity, collection development data, and online catalog usage through charts and graphs.

In addition, Millennium Circulation is integrated with My Millennium, which lets users place holds without help by staff.

"Academic libraries in Scotland have to be economical. The structure of both the agreement with Innovative and the structure of the system make this new initiative doubly attractive to us. SAC's academic portfolio has broadened into biosciences and disciplines such as sports science. For this reason, and because our researchers serve as consultants for all of Scotland, combining a system with two larger academic intuitions makes sense," said Elaine Muir, head of library services at Scottish Agricultural College.

Recently, University of the West of Scotland and Scotland Agricultural College began sharing space at their new joint library.

"All three institutions can use slightly different functions in Millennium. With our previous systems, we didn't have the same flexibility among our native libraries because they were not geared toward collaborative work," said Gordon Hunt, University of the West of Scotland librarian.

Gillian Anderson, a librarian at University of Highlands and the Islands, explained that this partnership is one of several among academic libraries in Scotland.

"We see this project as an extension of our strong partnerships among Scottish academic libraries, which have resulted in successful projects such as the Scottish Higher Education Digital Library (SHEDL). In our discussions, it became clear that all three institutions would benefit from UWS and SAC merging into the UHI library system. Sharing library systems and services is a great idea because the resources are being spent more efficiently. We are pleased that Innovative showed a willingness to help make this particular Scottish shared-service initiative succeed."

University of the West of Scotland offers undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate degree programs in business; computing; creative and cultural industries; education; engineering; health, nursing and midwifery; science; and social sciences. It has campuses in Ayr, Dumfries, Hamilton, and Paisley. It has enrollment of 19,500 and employs 1,600 staff members.

Scottish Agricultural College focuses on agriculture and related sciences, environmental management, rural resources, food chain quality and safety, and rural business development and management. About 750 students are enrolled. It has three campuses, one each in Aberdeen, Ayr, and Edinburgh, along with 23 local advisory offices, eight veterinary centers, and five research farms.

University of the Highlands and Islands offers degrees, post-graduate courses, and research programs in arts, humanities, and social sciences; business and tourism; computing and information technology; creative industries; education and childcare; energy, engineering, and construction; gaelic medium studies; health and well being; science; and the environment. It has 13 colleges and research facilities. It has enrollment of 7,500 students, and uses distance learning technologies extensively, including video-conferencing and other online materials.

About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at timothyjsohn@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @editortim.

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