How Leeds City Council moved library management into the cloud
"We have a fully future-proofed system."
Sandra Sharp, electronic services manager, Library and Information Service, Leeds City Council
When the library management system (LMS) server needed replacing, Leeds City Council seized the opportunity to review the latest technology available to them. It took advantage of the benefits of Chorus, a fully hosted cloud LMS from Capita.
Leeds City Council is pretty significant in terms of size — it has 36 static libraries, eight mobile libraries, one school library service and almost 90,000 active borrowers. Its library management system helps users discover hundreds of thousands of books, ebooks and other items, and helps its libraries stock and issue them more than three million times a year.
As the hardware supporting the whole LMS was aging, the library service was faced with a choice. Sandra Sharp,electronic services manager at the Library and Information Service, explains: "Our server was reaching 'end of life' so we knew we needed to either replace it or look at other options. I was keen to find out more about a hosted cloud solution that could potentially lower costs and reduce the management time, but it was important that we did not risk service levels to customers."
The council had an existing relationship with Capita and felt Chorus would offer a service they could rely on as well as the benefits they were looking for.
"Moving to a cloud-based system was the sensible choice," says John Daniel, the senior technical advisor at the Library and Information Service. "After all, this is the direction
the world is heading. I also felt there were advantages to be gained from having our LMS hosted by those who had designed and built it. Who could understand it better, or provide better support?"
Moving to a hosted solution requires planning and, like many organisations, there was a complex network set up within Leeds City Council. Integration with the self-service machines
and other council corporate systems such as the finance system was needed, so any issues that came up were worked through, with the Leeds and Capita teams collaborating closely on solutions.
The customer experience
One of the most significant results of the switch was probably that borrowers were not aware that anything had changed. "Our customers didn't notice any difference, which was what we wanted," says Sandra. The differences behind the scenes were more significant, however. Using Chorus means Leeds City Council no longer has any hardware on site to look after. There are no servers for Corporate IT to monitor and Capita deals with any data protection concerns.
Speed and simplicity
"The LMS is now much quicker than it was before. The team that works on our performance indicators say they are able to run their reports faster too, so it's saving us time in a number of places," explains John.
In addition, there are other advantages; "Security is tighter than ever and we have simplified the network, which helps integrate with the third-party systems we use. It also reduces the potential number of points of failure."
The council is also expecting to note savings in energy costs through not having the servers located on site.
"Overall, I feel confident that we have a fully future-proofed system," says Sandra. "And I'm glad that in another five years, we won't have to buy new servers!"