UK libraries share digital collections to satisfy customer demand on budget.

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Challenge
Six very different UK library systems were facing the same challenge: they needed to offer more robust digital collections, but their budgets could not support purchasing additional titles.
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Solution
The libraries banded together to form a cloudLink group which allows them to share digital titles while maintaining control over their own collections.
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Result
Digital lending has gone through the roof at all participating libraries. Even the library with the largest collection has discovered that 57% of customer’s digital loans are coming from outside the borough.

As many budgets remain tight, libraries across the UK are looking for ways to provide more for less. In April of 2018, six Public Authorities banded together to do just that.

Seeking to expand the selection of digital titles available to their library customers, Reading, Richmond-upon-Thames, Rotherham, Shropshire, Stoke-on-Trent, and Vivacity Peterborough created the first cloudLink consortium in the UK. Bibliotheca’s cloudLink allows libraries to increase their circulation and collaborate by sharing their cloudLibrary digital content with other libraries.

cloudLibrary, Bibliotheca’s digital lending platform for ebooks and eAudio, offers users a beautiful and intuitive lending experience. The app is easy to use and provides several powerful additional features such as library event notifications and virtual library cards that not only improve the user experience but also extend the reach of libraries within their communities.

All six library systems were already using cloudLibrary and saw cloudLink as a way to vastly expand their collection while remaining on budget. Sarah Hernik of Reading says, “We’re quite a small library. We saw cloudLink as a fantastic way to provide our customers with ebooks and eAudio at a fraction of the cost of purchasing our own collection.”

The six systems vary in size, as do their digital collections. Prior to joining cloudLink, the collection sizes ranged from 600 titles to around 5,000 in the largest. Though each library was enthusiastic about expanding the titles available to their customers, there was, understandably, some concern that the smaller libraries would benefit more than the largest. That worry has proven to be unfounded. From April to July, even the largest libraries have discovered that a full 57% of their customer’s digital materials are coming from outside their own borough.

cloudLink works really well. Titles that interest small audiences become more cost-effective when we are able to share them with other library users.
-Cheney Gardner, Library Development Manager

With cloudLink, libraries can maintain both private and shared collections while providing priority access to their own materials for their own users. The increased collection reduces hold times for popular items, as more copies are available, but it also provides a greater variety of titles. “Our customers are benefitting from borrowing titles we hadn’t purchased,” says Cheney Gardner, Library Development Manager of Richmond. “cloudLink works really well. Titles that interest small audiences become more cost-effective when we are able to share them with other library users.” By joining cloudLink, the shared collection size has risen to over 16,000 titles. That figure represents a ten-fold increase for the smallest libraries and a three-fold increase for even the largest.

“Loans of our stock have gone through the roof. It’s given our customers access to a wider range and larger number of titles than we could ever hope to be able to do with the size of our materials budget.” says Peter Aldridge of Peterborough.

Overall, cloudLink has been a brilliant success for all six Public Authorities, and they are eager to encourage other libraries to link with them to expand everyone’s collection even farther.

“We really like cloudLink and think it is a great development in eLending!” says Sarah Hernik.

Stoke-on-trent library logo
Reading library logo
Shropshire library logos
Richmond library logo
Vivacity Peteborough library logo
Rotherham library logo
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