The Welsh government has announced plans to launch an all-Wales library card that would allow users to access all library services across Wales, with the move saving local authorities up to 70% on spending.
A single library card across Wales would mean that users could borrow and return books in any library across the country. This would open up access for people to use the free library computers wherever they are in the country and would allow free seamless downloads of e-books and e-zines. Currently, library users can only use library cards within the local authorities they are registered.
To coincide with the move, the Welsh government has awarded a single supplier contract to SirsiDynix, a management library system vendor with customers in over 70 countries.
The move could save local authorities up to 70% on current costs, the Welsh government has said, with all local authorities adopting one single system rather than each having their own individual systems.
Ken Skates, the deputy minister for culture, sport and tourism, said: “We remain committed to supporting libraries to develop, improve and modernise so that, wherever possible, they can become more sustainable and cope with the challenges services across Wales are currently facing.”
Skates said an all-Wales library card “will not only improve services for current users but also encourage more people to sign-up and use the excellent services available at libraries across Wales.”
Following the comments of Kathy Settle, the chief executive of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce, who argued for the need to “break the negative narrative” around the discussion of libraries, former Waterstones boss and library campaigner, Tim Coates said the all-Wales library card move is the beginning of the creation of a “positive narrative”. He said: “By working together, Welsh libraries could respond to pressure to reduce budgets and still improve service.”
Local authorities in Wales will gradually adopt the new system beginning with the six north Wales authorities in 2015/16.