We adopted our current library management system, Sierra, in 1997, before Google or Harry Potter were unleashed on the world! Although there have been upgrades since, a lot has changed in how we manage library resources in the marketplace for library systems. It was time to take a careful look at what other systems offer and how they compare with our current system.
We carried out a very thorough tender process and gathered in-depth feedback from other institutions with Sierra and the new system, Alma.
Alma is a more modern Library management system which is the only truly “unified library services platform in the world, managing print, electronic, and digital materials in a single interface”.
Some of the benefits of moving to Alma include:
- Improved and streamlined e-resources management.
- Much improved handling of electronic resources with fully integrated processes for the first time.
- We manage relationships with over 600 suppliers to provide online access to information resources. Alma improves our ability to manage our licences effectively and make updates to subscriptions available to users more quickly, on a daily basis.
- Significantly improved acquisitions functionality.
- We can see what books are available across a range of suppliers rather than having to check each one separately, which will made book ordering more efficient.
- We can automate our book ordering processes through EDI – electronic data interchange – which enables computer to computer communications with our book suppliers.
- Significantly improved cataloguing functionality.
- Regular tasks, such as exporting catalogue records, can be configured to run automatically, saving a lot of time currently spent on manual interventions in the process.
- It will be easier to make adjustments to our catalogue records in the future as the better database functionality allows for greater manipulation of records. We often need to update records, for example to improve them in some way, or change the authentication links.
- Significant improvement in reporting and analytics capabilities.
- Alma offers more possibilities to interrogate data and automate statistical reporting, instead of having to run and re-run reports.
- Improved options for simpler integration with other University and external systems.
- The service is cloud-based reducing the local IT overhead for supporting the system and ensuring a more resilient service overall.
- Alma has a rolling monthly update programme, meaning development requests and upgrades don’t have to wait for a new software version.
- The new Library search interface is much more tightly integrated with Alma and this should mean quicker and more consistently accurate information for staff and students.
We join half of Russell Group universities who are already Alma customers. Two thirds of those who are using a modern system use Alma. It’s helpful to have a community of practice of research libraries to share information and help support development requests.