Make it easy to find, use & create content - FRLS

“The rapid advances in technologies offer deep-linked, multidimensional experiences with otherwise static content, promoting planned and serendipitous discovery of information and collections” (Future Ready Library Strategy p7)


Over the 2018-2021 span of the FRLS, we streamlined access and enhanced infrastructure to foster open, equitable and accessible models for information and knowledge exchange. This created pathways for discovery that are core to our Library services.

Success indicators included:

  • enhanced discovery services
  • integrated collections
  • advocating required and recommended subject readings are offered online only
  • physical collections’ footprint reduced by 30% to allow optimisation of learning spaces
  • Electronic Resource Management (ERM) system optimised to improve management of electronic subscriptions and budget.

New library management platforms with Ex Libris

To foster a digitally-enabled work environment we had to address technical deficiencies. We reviewed core business systems such as the Library Management Platform and other standalone systems with extensive workarounds, and selected the vendor Ex Libris for their purpose-built, integrated Software as a Service (SaaS) platform:

  • Alma – all-in-one library management system improving the acquisition and ongoing maintenance of library resources and subscriptions, while optimising borrowing and financial processes.
  • Primo – a next-generation discovery search module indexing over 400 full or partially Open Access collections.

Main benefits of new discovery layer (Primo)

  • improved user experience
  • single access point to search across library collections
  • more options to refine and customise search results
  • single sign-on for streamlined account access
  • automated renewals so clients can easily keep resources longer
  • better search results due to more control over relevance engine

Main benefits of new library management system (Alma)

  • improved efficiencies for workflow and integration:
    • ebook acquisition and processing from seven minutes to approximately 1.5 minutes per title
    • subject readings integration for ebook purchase requests
    • real-time holdings, usage, and budget allocation data
  • improved visibility on finances, user-engagement, stock, and flow
  • improved support, including sector-driven continuous software development

The scope of the project extended to the UOWC Hong Kong Campus harmonising the connected Library experience.

A further two modules, Leganto (to manage online subject reading lists) and Rialto (acquisition) provide more streamlined workflows to collection management and circulation, budgeting and statistical reporting, and copyright compliance. Rapido (a module to support resource sharing between libraries) will be implemented in 2022. Modelling shows a return on investment within five years.

Vibrant, relevant and discoverable collections

Our library collections will remain relevant long into the future due to a large-scale collection modernisation project which revitalised our physical and online resources.

Most of the physical and online collections were transformed in 2019 which included analysing usage data then moving low-use print items to off-site storage and redesigning library spaces to improve access to high-use items. We also accelerated the transition from print to electronic resources and improved online search results.

Having already established our online-first collection development policy with a preference for electronic resources, we were well-equipped to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 and the swift transition to online study during extended lockdown periods.

Brand new, best-practice website

The University’s digital presence was a primary focus in 2018, and the Library website was refreshed using content strategy and best practices for an improved user experience with a brand new content management system.

The upgraded website included relevant, focused content with:

Discovering stories through Archives Online

We enabled users to discover and engage with over 12,800 unique UOW archive items through Archives Online, built on the platform Recollect.

Archives Online has become a strong source of historical content and engagement for the Illawarra community and beyond, with unique system features allowing users to tag and comment their own stories about people, places, and things.

The reach of the Archives Online platform is extensive, with over 2.9 million page views in 2021 (34% increase on 2020).

We have also digitised several large-scale collections, including:

Column graph of Archives Online views increasing from over 1.5 million in 2018 to 2.9 million in 2020.

A priority when digitising our collections was adopting and complying with contemporary standards for archival descriptions, by converting existing text-based inventories to the International Archival Standard framework.

We can enhance our archival collections by including more descriptive data (such as user-generated metadata) to provide a more complete view of our collections.

Sepia photograph of Janet Cosh sitting in a garden
Man in beige work coat standing near red-topped Rutty's bus at Summit Park, Mt Keira.
Photograph from the Pringle album of two men and two women with parasols having a picnic. Henry Arthur Pringle laying at left near dog and horse.

1. Janet Cosh at 'Summerlees' | 2. Rutty's bus at Summit Park, Mt Keira (Harrigan collection) | 3. Picnic at Corrimal Colliery (Becarevic collection)

View the FRLS overview infographic