Last week, SirsiDynix was awarded a contract from the Welsh government to develop a library card that would enable citizens to utilize any library in Wales. This would give citizens access to borrow and return books to any library in the country as well as utilize free computer access in any library. This would enable creation of a national service for free downloads of e-books and digital magazines.
“Currently library users can only use public library cards within the local authorities they are registered. The system would provide a new and modern approach, which will benefit customers, for example those who work in a different local authority to which they are registered, and widen choice.”
The government expects that, after the system is adopted next year, local authorities will save as much as 70% of platform costs, although many find this estimate to be “highly optimistic”.
Wales is not the first to create a unified library system – some other countries and even large cities are currently using them. New York City has a public library system and has a greater population to serve than Wales’ 3 million. Wales does, however, have a national library organization that will, once the system is up and running, assist visitors in easily finding and accessing e-resources at other libraries.