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.

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The increase in usage of online reference materials was achieved through a comprehensive 18 month training plan for staff, a review of reference materials on offer in hard copy and online, and a marketing programme within the libraries and externally to interest groups, including schools and driving instructors. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with only a handful of formal complaints received, with the majority of those requesting better access to digital resources, in particular access to the legal database LexisNexis from home.

Working with suppliers to get performance data is ongoing.  There are still some suppliers that do not supply usage data although Enfield no longer subscribes to services which cannot provide  this information.

The project is now being rolled out to the other 13 consortium Boroughs( Barking & Dagenham, Brent, Ealing, Hackney, Havering, Kingston Upon Thames, Lewisham, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest and Wandsworth).  The boroughs vary in population size from 150,000 to 305,000 which affects their individual purchasing power and budgets. Being part of a consortium could have a dramatic impact on cost savings. The workstream is currently completing a benchmarking exercise of LLC member authority usage and costs and is investigating joint purchasing of online resources and the best deals from digital resource suppliers which will allow further cost savings.

Grappling with the best way to make digital resources easily accessible and available through the library catalogue is the next challenge. For example a library's subscription to Credo Reference could cover hundreds of resources which will not appear in a catalogue search. The workstream is currently assessing the various ways in which digital items could be found more easily which will further increase use of these high quality online resources. 

Single sign on which will offer one point of entry to all the digital resources to which a library or consortium subscribes is also in development.

The online reference resources project has been shortlisted in The Bookseller's Library Innovation of the Year Award 2011.

Madeline Barratt is Libraries Strategy & Performance Manager, Enfield Libraries. She can be contacted about Enfield Libraries or The London Libraries Consortium via: .

[1] Publishers Association and PS stats from:

[2] 3/5/11 The Publishers Association reveals accelerated growth in 2010 digital book market

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