Havering's council partnership develops online system to speed up library services

Open Galaxy software slashes support and maintenance costs by 40%

Open Galaxy software slashes support and maintenance costs by 40%

Havering Council has designed a new library system that has slashed IT support costs and also administration costs.

The online system, called Open Galaxy, has speeded-up the library service at the North London council and has widened access to available books. Library users can view a catalogue of books online, check their current loans and renew items using the new system.

Havering has estimated that it will cut its support and maintenance costs by 40% per year and save 10%-15% in staff time, compared to the old library computer system.

One innovative part of the deal was the way it was procured. The London Libraries Consortium, which brings together library services in North East London, led by Havering to install the Open Galaxy system.

One advantage of this approach was using collective purchasing power to get a better deal from suppliers. The system has so far cost the councils £900,000 to develop.

The Open Galaxy system was written using the Ingres Open Road 4GL software development tool from Computer Associates running on a CA-Ingres database.

The main server is a V880 from Sun Microsystems. It runs the Solaris 9 operating system.

Havering Council is planning a number of enhancements to the library system. These include the introduction of radio frequency identification technology to allow customers to check out books themselves, and an automated telephone service to allow library users to renew items over the phone without speaking to library staff. The telephone service will also send SMS text messages to library users reminding them when their items are overdue.

Open Galaxy provides a stock catalogue that is shared between the local authority partners on the scheme. It is used by 80,000 Havering residents and holds 400,000 stock items. When items from partner local authorities are included, users have access to one million items.

The local authorities use internet data standards such as XML to exchange information. Orders are made using the older Electronic Data Interchange standard.

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