Consortium delivers innovative reference resources project

The London Libraries Consortium is the UK's largest public libraries consortium. Its Digital Reference Resources Workstream is delivering increased usage and real savings.

Page 1 of 2 next >>

There is a massive upward trend in the sales of ebooks and ebook readers. Recent statistics from the Publishers Association show that UK sales of 'general titles' ebooks and audio book downloads quadrupled from £4m in 2009 to £16m in 2010. Whilst ebooks currently account for just 6 percent of the market, according to the PA Statistics Yearbook 2010[1], the trends suggest that this figure will rise exponentially.

Along with all public services library budgets are being dramatically reduced.  Faced with considerable reductions over the next five years, it is not  feasible for local authorities to maintain existing stocks of hard copy, online and periodical reference resources.  Meanwhile there is a clear move towards online information being used more, in particular in the reference resources domain. Indeed, academic and professional publications amounted to 72 percent of all digital sales in 2010 and sales of ebook titles in these areas have doubled in the past three years[2].

The London Libraries Consortium of 14 London Boroughs is the UK's largest public libraries consortium.  It offers its members increased purchasing power and faster ways to improve services through regular meetings to share knowledge and skills across the consortium. An active programme of workstreams to investigate service improvements and innovation includes one on digital resources.  Headed  by the London Borough of Enfield, the digital reference resources workstream focuses on:

  • Improving access to reference resources in and outside library opening hours
  • Increasing use of reference resources
  • Making cost efficiencies on reference resources
  • Ensuring that libraries are a source of accurate and up-to-date information

In the pilot Borough of Enfield the project resulted in radical changes in reference services from mostly hard copy to mostly digital. Usage of online reference materials  increased by 325 percent from June 2009 to December 2010.  At the same time savings of £40k per annum were achieved.

Page 1 of 2 next >>