Late last week the Welsh government awarded a contract to LMS vendor SirsiDynix to develop a new library card platform. Their goal: give everyone with a Welsh library card the option to utilize any library in Wales.
A single library card across Wales would mean users could borrow and return books in any library across the country. It would also open up access for people to take advantage of free computer use in libraries no matter where in the country they are and create a national e-books and e-zines service with free seamless downloads.
Currently library users can only use public library cards within the local authorities they are registered. The system would provide a new and modern approach, which will benefit customers, for example those who work in a different local authority to which they are registered, and widen choice.
The system is expected to be adopted starting next year, and the government thinks local authorities could save as much as 70% on their platform costs after they switch over to the new system.
But as anyone who has watched large technical projects flounder can tell you, both estimates are probably highly optimistic.
With a population around 3 million, Wales won't come close to being the largest single unified library system (many major cities, including NYC, have public library systems that serve larger populations). But with 22 counties and hundreds of library branches, Wales has its work cut out for it.
On the plus side, Wales does have a national library organization. When the new platform is operational and integrated with the local library systems, that organization will enable patrons to more easily find digital resources at other libraries.
image by evans.photo