Case Study

The University of West London (UWL) had a requirement for the supply, support and maintenance of a replacement library management system to meet the needs of 44 staff support and a student body of just over 10,000 and 1,000 staff across two sites with the main Paul Hamlyn Library at the Ealing site and a health library at the Reading site.

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University of West London

August, 2022 | Koha LMS | Higher Education

Background: UWL has students from 117 countries. UWL offers HE diplomas, professional qualifications, accredited short courses, foundation degrees, and honours degrees. UWL used the APUC framework to select a new system. 84% of information resources spend is online resources and 16% is print. The system has over 66,000 holdings. PTFS Europe was awarded the contract to implement Koha, Metabase analytics and Coral ERM in January 2021 with go-live on August 1st 2021. The contract included integration with self service machines, Summon Discovery, the university’s single sign on system, Reading List Management System (Talis Aspire), the student registry system, EDI (EDIFACT) ordering, online payment integration with Barclaycard and ILL with the BLDSS.

The Challenge: The library was looking for a system which would engage its users, enable integrations with other systems and have fantastic usability; allowing staff to be able to easily manage the system whilst having first class support from their vendor. The online catalogue had to be appealing to students and fit their understanding of libraries. It also had to have features that would make it a real pedagogical tool rather than just a catalogue sitting in the background. This meant it had to be fully customisable. Having a flexible and open system which allows for easy integration was also key. The university integrates with the CLA, Discovery, Reading List Management software amongst other things. Open source was attractive to the university for enabling this kind of integration via freely available OpenAPIs. Finally, the reputation for support from PTFS Europe was also a factor in choosing Koha. The university wanted to work with an organisation who was a partner rather than a supplier.

The Implementation: The project was delivered on time and to budget. The existing Capita Prism was a hosted system. The PTFS Europe Data Conversion team were able to offer UWL advice on extracting the data from Prism in a suitable format. This advice saved UWL many thousands of pounds in data extraction charges from the legacy supplier. The library chose to migrate bibliographic records, items, users, loans, fines, funds, and holds. Due to the small number of funds and holds these were migrated manually. An interim data load took place to incorporate data changes that were requested during data checking. Training on Koha was carried out using UWL’s data prior to going live and all the training was delivered remotely over Microsoft Teams (as the implementation took place during the Covid-19 pandemic). Project assurance calls were arranged throughout the project to check on progress. Integration with other university systems was woven into the project timeline to suit the availability of staff in other departments whilst ensuring that everything was available on day one.

Positive Impacts for the Library: Switching from proprietary to open source software was a big benefit for the library in terms of both cost savings but also in terms of influencing the development of the software. Responsive support has been a feature of the post-implementation period with PTFS Europe going over and above the expectations of the University in terms of response times and issue resolution.

Contact: Andrew Preater, Director of Library Services – andrew.preater@uwl.ac.uk

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