The Smarter Systems Project is one of the largest and most complex collaborative IT projects Auckland local government has gone through. It was undertaken by eLGAR — Libraries for a Greater Auckland Region, which includes libraries in Auckland City, Manukau City, North Shore City, Rodney District and Waitakere City.
The project aims to increase customer service and boost regional collaboration. One of the prime benefits is the shared bibliographic database of two million records of items owned by the five libraries. This database is accessible to customers via a shared website.
Previously, the five libraries used two different library management systems that did not support web-based services or the sharing of data. When these systems were due for renewal, eLGAR decided that migration to a new, common system was the only way for the libraries to be able to meet their customer service needs.
ELGAR chose the system Millennium, developed by US-based Innovative Interfaces. Millennium employs a client-server architecture that utilises a web-based computing model.
Clients for general access are HTML based; any user with an internet connection has 24/7 access to the web OPAC (online public access catalogue). Staff clients are Java-based. At any time, more than 500 staff region-wide may be accessing the system during library opening hours.
The system has proven to be reliable — since its launch in July last year the application uptime has been 100%.
Millennium allows customers to sign up for membership online, monitor their requests and items borrowed, renew items currently out on loan, make suggestions for new item purchases, manage their contact details and view the holdings of the five libraries in the region.
By sharing costs of procurement, implementation, support and training, eLGAR will be able to further develop the system and add more features to it, something that would have been impossible for an individual library.
The project was delivered on time and under budget across the region. Disruption for customers was limited to half a day when the new system was implemented. Customer training was delivered, as well as targeted training for 1,400 library staff and other support staff.