Executive summary NHS library resource sharing: market review and options appraisal

A summary of the final report, published in June 2021

© kenchadconsulting

Introduction 

National sharing of locally-held knowledge resources is of strategic importance to the NHS. 

With the majority of NHS investment in journals and books taking place at local level, reciprocal sharing of resources by NHS library and knowledge services (LKS) and a high volume of inter-library lending and document supply (ILDS) is required to enable them to meet the needs of NHS staff and learners. 

In 2018/19 around 77,000 journal articles and 42,000 books were requested by/supplied to NHS LKS in England. 

Although there has been some streamlining in recent years, the systems and processes currently used by NHS LKS staff to source, supply and manage requests are complex and fragmented.

With limited connectivity between systems, processes often involve copying/pasting item details and maintaining the same data in different places.  

HEE’s new National Discovery Service (which uses EDS from EBSCO) will enable NHS staff and learners to more easily request articles and books which they discover but which are not directly accessible, potentially further increasing demand.

There are now clear opportunities to streamline workflows and reduce the time spent fulfilling requests and maintaining the same data in different places.   

Objective 

The objective of this report is to provide HEE with options and recommendations for improved national inter-library resource sharing, in the context of the new National Discovery Service, the planned move to regional LMS and emerging market solutions to enable inter-library resource sharing.  

Evidence 

This evidence for this report was gathered from:  

  • Expert contributions and advice from members of the HEE Knowledge for Healthcare Resource Discovery Team 

  • Discussions/interviews with members of NHS LKS staff  

  • Engagement with the National NHS Strategic Inter-Network Collaboration (SINC) Group 

  • Engagement with regional NHS resource-sharing networks including SWIMS (South West LKS), LAWMunion (London and Midlands) and PANDDA (North) 

  • Dialogue with 3rd party suppliers including EBSCO, Ex Libris, OCLC and Project ReShare 

  • Desk research 

Recommendations 

  1. HEE should begin a procurement process to acquire a National Holdings Database (NHD) (resource sharing solution) to replace the current regional infrastructure. This should focus on journal holdings. 

  1. The specification of requirements for regional LMS for the NHS should include interoperability with the NHD.

  1. Work should continue to address outstanding policy decisions and technical and financial uncertainties. 

[1] This is now included in the requirements document for the East of England and Kent, Surrey Sussex, library system procurement