The Library Services Platform (LSP) program is a true testament to collaboration, innovation, and perseverance. The program is a partnership between the Community College League of California, the Council of Chief Librarians and the 110 participating California community colleges. The newly adopted LSP allowed libraries to continue fundamental operations during the COVID-19 crisis. Without this project, many colleges would not have been able to provide access to library resources during extensive and ongoing campus closures. The negative impact this would have had on students is immeasurable.
The LSP program is an example of the benefits and value of adopting a systemwide approach and solution for operational and programmatic needs shared throughout the system. The recent acquisition of a system-wide technology platform and the adoption of a system-wide operational approach creates a broad range of opportunities by which the CCC libraries can work together to more powerfully manage and deliver the digital information resources of today and tomorrow, so as to strengthen student success and support more dynamic teaching and learning strategies. A library services platform that is funded and operated in a system-wide manner offers the best opportunity to address student equity and student success. It is cost-effective, efficient, and promotes system-wide instructional approaches and information literacy pathways.
Until full implementation of the new library system, California’s community college libraries were operating on no fewer than nine different platforms. Many of these were legacy systems that were no longer adequate in the evolving digital information environment. Many could not be used with current personal digital platforms such as tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices. Problems and solutions in the operation of the varied systems were unique, therefore there was little sharing of technical and resource information among community colleges due to the varied operating systems. And since the efficacy of these systems varies widely, so did the ability of students to locate and access high-quality resources vital to their success.
The shared platform offers extensive consortium functionality to collaboratively manage CCC library collections, eliminating duplicate work at each campus, and leveraging local expertise for the benefit of the whole. In addition, migration to a cloud-based architecture represents significant annual cost savings to each college in terms of servers, storage, back-ups, and staff time devoted to maintenance, thereby releasing fiscal resources to invest in academic research materials. This consortium model of shared resources and services is proven and cost effective; and may be compared to other CCC system initiatives that undergird the effectiveness and efficiency of the colleges and districts with state-level, system-wide solutions.
Acquiring and maintaining a state-of-the-art LSP offered an enormous opportunity to re-position library services to more effectively address student success. It gave the CCC libraries modern tools to identify student needs and supplement faculty teaching strategies. This approach wove together the resources and capabilities of all of the CCC libraries. In addition to all of the benefits offered by the LSP project, there is a significant cost-savings to the CCC system to continue to contract on behalf of the participating libraries. Between 2019-2024, the system-wide cost savings is projected to be $8.5 million - all while providing a more robust software platform than those previously in use, system-wide collaboration, ongoing training and support and CCC LSP system administration.
In 2016, the CCC Library Services Platform (LSP) project was proposed by Council of Chief Librarians, CCC to “enable all of the college libraries to make the critical transition to a state-of-the-art cloud-based library services platform”. The project received $6 million dollars in one-time Prop. 98 funding in FY 2017-18 to move forward with the selection of a vendor product and implementation of the new system. After a thorough search and review, a committee made up of technology experts and librarians from across the CCC system, opted to partner with Ex Libris for their Alma/Primo VE software. 110 CCC libraries embarked upon the move to a system-wide approach to more powerful, collaborative, and efficient library services and joined the LSP project; becoming the international vendor’s largest customer.
In a two-year-long system-wide effort which involved many system stakeholders the project met all of its identified milestones, including:
Development of an RFP, vendor proposals rated and demonstrations scored, and a vendor (Ex Libris) selected for the project;
Finalization of a contract with Ex Libris for the acquisition of their Alma and Primo VE SaaS;
Completion of a successful pilot program with 11 diverse colleges and the subsequent launch of the year-long implementation and training effort which plans for “Go Live” cutover for all libraries between December 2019-January 2020;
Establishment of the LSP Governance Committee and multiple area-specific work groups with membership comprised of over 100 faculty and staff from across the system;
Development of policies and procedures for ongoing operation of the project and methodology to increase collaboration in areas such as resource sharing, regional collaboration, collection development, analytics and shared instructional uses;
Partnership with the CSU and UC systems to provide insight and development of software/system improvements
Although the Board of Governors supported full ongoing funding in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 budget proposal processes; funding for the project was not included in the 2020-21 California budget. As of June 30, 2020, project staff support ended due to lack of funding. The LSP Task Force, Council of Chief Librarians and the LSP Governance Committee began volunteering to fulfill immediate program needs such as management of the shared Network Zone, communications and Ex Libris support. The LSP Governance Committee proposed using the existing library services consortium created by the Council of Chief Librarians and the Community College League of California as a vehicle for continuing operations. A newly expanded consortium agreement was adopted in August 2020 and colleges agreed to self-fund the software and minimal staffing support in 2020-21.
At the time of this writing, ongoing funding for the LSP Program is included in the 2021-22 California Budget Trailer Bill and awaiting Governor Newsom’s agreement. A library services platform that is funded and operated in a system-wide manner offers the best opportunity to address student equity and student success. It is cost-effective, efficient and promotes system-wide instructional approaches and information literacy pathways. We remain hopeful that full project funding will be awarded within the next few days.