Improving libraries & archives

Horizon Scanning and Market Intelligence


Libraries make the world better – we help them become more effective Some example projects

Next generation library and archival technology solutions for the National Library of Ireland

The National Library of Ireland (NLI), established in 1877, is the library of record for Ireland. It cares for more than 12 million items, including books, manuscripts, newspapers/serials, photographs, prints, maps, drawings, ephemera, music and digital media. The NLI has a well-established digitisation and digital collection function, currently managing over 150TB of digitised material, web archives, and born digital archival collections. Ken Chad Consulting worked with the  NLI to help inform the business case, procurement and implementation the NLI’s next generation library and archival solutions. We worked with a wide range of stakeholders in a variety of online and onsite workshops to confirm and document the NLI’s high-level requirements. Ken Chad carried out a review and analysis of the current library and archival system/platform marketplace as it relates to the NLI’s requirements. 

Library technology options for Trinity College Dublin (TCD)

TCD is ranked (by the the Times Higher Education) as the top university in Ireland. The Library of Trinity College benefits from legal deposit legislation of both Ireland and the United Kingdom. Legal deposit has been established in Trinity College Dublin since 1801. We worked with the library to help them move forward in terms of their library technology infrastructure. Christoph Schmidt-Supprian, Head of Content Management explained: “Ken worked with us to get a clearer definition of our top-level needs and a better understanding of the library technology marketplace to inform potential requirements and the evaluation and procurement of new solutions. His expertise and was invaluable. He engaged with a wide range of stakeholders and provided us with an analysis and recommendations that has put us in a much better position to move forward with a formal procurement. We especially appreciated his flexibility and enthusiasm in working with us during a time when we had many other projects in progress. Jessie Shearer Kurtz, Deputy Librarian added. “Ken’s engagement with stakeholders and his response to the many questions was exemplary and demonstrated his breadth of experience and knowledge.”

Research system options for White Rose Libraries (WRL)

White Rose Libraries (Leeds, Sheffield and York Universities) employed Ken Chad Consulting to help confirm requirements and identify options for the next iteration of repository infrastructure. Over a three month period the project engaged around 150 stakeholders from the three WRL institutions using a variety of approaches including online and face-to-face workshops, one-to-one interviews with researchers and a survey. The project met the WRL goals to deliver a requirements document, an implementation blueprint and a review and analysis of the repository and research system marketplace. Claire Knowles, Associate Director, Research & Digital Futures at Leeds University remarked ‘in a short period the project covered a lot of ground and provided very valuable outputs. It has given WRL a sound basis to move forward’.

Library management system for Wales. Pre procurement support
LMS Cymru is a joint working arrangement of 20 of the 22 Library Service Authorities within Wales to share a library management system. The current contract is due to end in December 2024. Ken Chad Consulting assisted with the pre-procurement phase of the re-tendering process. This involved engaging with a wide range of stakeholders including library staff, members of the public, Welsh government and library system vendors to better understand and define needs and the current marketplace for solutions. This work fed into a requirements document produced by Ken Chad that formed part of the subsequent Invitation to Tender (ITT) in 2023 and the selection of a new library system for Wales.

Development of a National eHealth Library for Ireland
In August 2021 the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland appointed Ken Chad Consulting to help scope the need for a national eHealth library. The primary motivation for the project is equity of access to knowledge in order to enable evidence base practice and to adapt to the changing needs of Ireland’s health and social care provision. Increased access to resources will also contribute to enabling research and embed a culture of enquiry. Ken examined current practice in the public health service and took into account international best practice. A survey of over 1,200 Health staff clearly demonstrated the positive impact of eHealth library resources on patient care. A brief executive summary project report, Developing and sustaining a national eHealth library to improve patient care in Ireland outlined ways to take the service forward and better meet user needs. 

Improving library technology infrastructure in the NHS
In September 2020 we began work with Health Education England (HEE) NHS to help on an ambitious HEE funded programme to deliver a more efficient and coherent infrastructure of library management systems (LMSs). The present LMS landscape in complex and costly with over 91 separate systems across England. This will be reduced to a small number of regional systems delivering improvements for library staff and end users.

Services Review SOAS, University of London
A strategic review of Library and Learning Services at
SOAS, University of London was underway and Ken Chad Consulting was engaged to assist with a services review. Director of Library and Learning Services, Oliver Urquhart Irvine remarked, ‘Ken’s work on service mapping was particularly helpful and he worked flexibly with us to translate the project workshops with a wide range of members of staff, into online formats during the COVID crisis”

The potential of artificial intelligence for discovery
Health Education England (HEE) funded an innovative project to explore the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to improve knowledge discovery.
HEE  worked with Yewno and Ken Chad Consulting on a pilot implementation of an advanced AI research solution – Yewno Discover.  A key strand of the project, led by Ken Chad Consulting, was an analysis of the user experience (Ux) using a variety of Ux methodologies. Working with the Library and Knowledge Services team at University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust (UHDB) – one of the largest NHS trusts in the country – a range of user ‘problems to be solved‘ were investigated and analysed in a busy and complex user environment. Ken was also the project manager for the pilot. 

Transitioning to a new system  – change management
Ken worked with members of library staff at the University of East Anglia to help them transition to a new library services platform. He provided a sense check across policy choices to help ensure the needs of users were met and that changes were communicated in the most effective way. Library Director Nick Lewis remarked, ‘working with Ken was a pleasure and proved to be really valuable. There has been a renewed sense of purpose in a demanding period of change. We were implementing a completely new system in a short period of time and Ken’s expertise, experience and methodologies helped enormously’.

Exploring Supply and Demand Conditions in the Library Data Market
Our main task, set out by Jisc, (a membership organisation, providing digital solutions for UK education and research) was, ‘to independently explore and evaluate models, terms, conditions, assertions and arguments relating to the creation, enhancement, ownership, licensing, distribution and use of bibliographic metadata’. The outcome of this work has supported Jisc to, ‘implement measures and take action in ways that benefit the library community (in particular academic libraries who are Jisc members); whilst also dealing fairly with commercial and not-for-profit data suppliers’. The project made key recommendations about how Jisc can use its influence to change the dynamics of the library metadata market and better support the goals of the UK’s National Bibliographic Knowldegbase (NBK). Following the report Ken Chad worked with Jisc and the wider  metadata community to establish Task and Finish groups to begin to put in place the recommendations in the report notably around defining metadata quality and a more open approach to re-use and sharing of records.

Digital knowledge resource discovery and delivery infrastructure for the NHS in England
One of the key ways to drive delivery of Health Education England’s (HEE) Knowledge for Healthcare vision is by ensuring the healthcare workforce has quick and easy access to relevant digital knowledge and evidence resources at the point of need. With changing user preferences and expectations, shifting digital and publishing environments, advances in technology, and ever-present financial scrutiny, there was a clear need to review – and potential to modernise and streamline – the infrastructure. Ken worked with a mix of librarians including those working in strategic/resource management roles and those managing services/resources. The result was a better understanding of user needs and the organisation’s value propositions to meet those needs. This supported the articulation of clear organisational goals and strategy. The work also included a market review of the library discovery landscape and potential solutions.

Review of Library Service: Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP)
The Society commissioned Ken Chad Consulting to undertake a review of the library service, including the best use of space, services and technologies. The aim was find the best way forward for the service in a fast changing library and information environment. The work included a horizon scan to highlight issues and best practice, interviews with librarians from peer organisations and user interviews based on the user experience ‘
jobs-to-be-done‘ (JTBD) methodology. Ken also facilitated workshops on strategy, value propositions and needs.

Mark Monaghan, Business Manager, Practice and Development at the Society remarked, ‘Ken’s contribution was invaluable. He enabled us to cover a lot of ground in a short time and provided very informed and helpful recommendations based on well thought through methodologies. We found it a really interesting and engaging experience.

Replacement library system: Oxford Brookes University
Ken worked with the leadership team and key members of library staff at Oxford Brookes University on strategy, needs and a market analysis for a new library system. Paul Harwood, Associate Director of Learning Resources commented: “I particularly valued Ken’s facilitation of the
strategy and the needs workshops. His approach was methodical, the workshops were very engaging and we got clear outputs that will guide us in the evaluation process”

Business case for a new library service platform.
As part of implementing a university-wide Digital Campus Programme, Wolverhampton’s Directorate of Academic Support (DAS) seized the opportunity to make a case for wide ranging changes to its library systems, including a new
library services platform (LSP), an integrated reading list management solution and a move to RFID based self service across the four University libraries. Ken Chad Consulting assisted in the preparation of the business case for change including a marketplace review. Ken also worked with university staff to prepare a requirements document for the procurement process. Mike Dainton, Content & Scholarly Communications Manager said: “Getting external, impartial advice from an experienced consultant was invaluable. Ken really understood our issues, the wider Higher Education sector and the market for potential solutions. In addition he was flexible in helping us meeting new requirements as the project developed”.

Cambridge University archival management system
The project to find a new archival management solution was led by the Cambridge University Library. It embraced over 40 co-operating colleges and other institutions that provide a single point of networked access to catalogues of archives and manuscript collections held throughout Cambridge. Working with a core team of archivists Ken analysed needs, key value propositions and produced a requirements document. He also reviewed the archival management system marketplace of proprietary and open source offerings to produce a shortlist of potential solutions. The end result was a business case to help secure the required funding.Dr Suzanne Paul Keeper of Manuscripts and University Archives said, ‘Ken’s approach and methodologies were clear and the associated workshops engaging and enjoyable.  We found the work on value propositions especially useful in helping to clearly articulate what is important especially in terms of making a business case for funding’.

University of Nottingham scholarly information system
Ken Chad worked with the Libraries, Research and Learning Resources (LRLR) department of the University of Nottingham to analyse needs and potential solutions and produce a business case for a new scholarly information system to include a
library services platform (LSP). The University has eight libraries in the UK and one at each of the campuses in China and Malaysia. The project had a number of work strands including mapping the current situation, analysing top level needs, a  marketplace review of potential solutions and preparing a business case. Christine Middleton Associate Director (Content and Discovery) remarked, ‘Ken’s methodical approach, engaging workshops and deep understanding of the issues and the market has helped to put us in a good position to realise our ambition to make an innovative step change in service delivery’.

King’s College London: Vision
The library was developing a “King’s 2025” vision to guide its strategy and activities over the next decade. We assisted by analysing the existing literature and using that as background  to support practical workshops to articulate clear library value propositions and elements of strategy. Robert Hall Director of Library Services, remarked, ‘I’m really pleased with the way in which this has worked out. It has been a very valuable exercise for us. Ken’s contribution helped clarify our thinking. The process was both challenging and engaging and gave us clear outputs. It was refreshing to work with a consultant who really understands the Higher Education environment: we really enjoyed working with him’.

Procuring a new library system. Requirements and market analysis
We worked with Keele university to help streamline the procurement process. We also undertook a review and analysis of the library systems market. University librarian Paul Reynolds commented, ‘Ken’s expertise was invaluable. He worked with us on requirements and an evaluation schema to make for a much improved procurement process. He knows the marketplace extremely well and his focussed analysis with key factors for the relevant vendors was very helpful’.

Innovation and User Experience (Ux): an introduction to the Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD) methodology
Ken worked with Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen to explore the JTBD method in the context of their Resource Discovery project. The workshops were part of a staff development day and included  library staff from all areas. About 30 workshop attendees  explored and analysed the ‘jobs’ users are trying to get done and produced clear structured output that suggested service gaps that might be filled as well as ideas for innovative new approaches.

Diane Devine, who organised the day said,  ‘We found the workshops really helpful from two perspectives. First it helped to have an innovative new way to look at the issues and problems and secondly it gave us some clear outputs which we can use to develop our services’.

Library Technology Strategy
We worked with the University of Kent to help create a strategy for their library technology infrastructure. We first mapped out the current complex infrastructure in detail, noting the rationale for specific systems as well as issues and problems. Using an
innovative and clear methodology we engaged a variety of stakeholders in workshops to consider the issues and help develop a short and succinct strategy statement. Alongside this work we helped develop a roadmap for the library technology infrastructure setting out at a high-level the stages of work required to deliver the strategy.

Advice and support during a formal library system procurement process
We worked with the University of the Arts in London (UAL) during their formal (EEC competitive dialogue) procurement process. We acted as an impartial adviser and attended the vendor presentations. We played an active role in the vendor interviews and provided an analysis of each vendor’s response in order to support the library’s own assessment. The objective was to help ensure the selection of a solution that would best meet the needs of UAL

Research  process and research data management
Many universities are looking at how they can better serve the needs of researchers. Ken Chad Consulting worked with the University of Westminster to look the  needs and attitudes of researchers and admin staff in terms of research data management (RDM). The result led the University to look
first at the whole lifecycle and workflows of research administration. This in turn led to the  innovative, rapid (Agile) development of a system to support researchers and admin staff which has now gone into production.  An article on the project was published in the July 2014 edition of Insights: the UKSG journal

Review and analysis of library system infrastructure and market review
We worked with a major UK university that has made substantial organizational change and is reviewing its library strategy. We mapped, reviewed and analysed the current library technology infrastructure including library management systems, repositories, access and authentication systems and systems to support research. We looked especially at pain points and opportunities for improvement. We also undertook a market analysis looking at  trends in the  market, including the wider HE and global technology drivers.

Archives and library: an integrated technology solution
Wiener Library  is Britain’s most extensive library and archive on the Holocaust, with about 50,000 books and pamphlets, 3,000 periodical titles, ca. 2,000 document collections, ca. 15,000 photographs, press cuttings, and audio-visual material.  We helped by reviewing the library and archives technical infrastructure, assessing needs, drawing up requirements, reviewing the marketplace and helping to review and select a new suite of library and archival solutions.

  • Evaluation of library system replacement options. We worked with a UK HE library to help select the best replacement for their end-of-life Library Management System.
  • Library system strategy and business case. We helped develop a new library IT strategy and the business case to ‘realign’ the library systems infrastructure employed by a UK university. The project reviewed library requirements, analysed the wider technology context and reviewed the market for library systems. We produced a roadmap for change and made recommendations about how the infrastructure can better aligned with current needs to the aspirations of the library and the university as a whole.
  • Making a business case for library technology change. We helped a UK University make a robust business case for major changes in their library technology systems and infrastructure.
  • Realigning library systems. We worked with the John Rylands University Library (JRUL) in Manchester – one of the world’s major research libraries – to help them re-align their systems to support a new library and institutional strategy. We looked at a wide range of systems including discovery systems, the library management system LMS), archives, imaging and the institutional repository (IR).
  • Evaluation of strategies for library systems. A UK research library commissioned this study  to assist in achieving the best return on investment for future library technology decisions, taking into consideration the broader institutional, HE and global contexts.
  • Systems and strategies for electronic resources. A major UK HE institution and global brand  commissioned Ken Chad to evaluate workflows and systems related to the management of electronic resources.
  • The JISC LMS Change The project helped to develop and disseminate a vision for the future of library systems and a delivery ‘roadmap’. The project explored the potential for new approaches to library systems infrastructure, taking account of considerations beyond the traditional Library Management System (LMS)  to include other business critical and curatorial systems, both within and above campus.  Ken Chad  worked in conjunction with the University of Westminster and Sero consulting.
  • Higher Education Library Technology wiki. Ken Chad Consulting  set up and manage the Higher Education Library Technology website. HELibTech is an open community resource that provides data on library technologies used in UK HE and has articles on major library technology related issues.
  • Local Government Library Technology wiki (LGLibTech) Ken Chad Consulting established this resource and acts as ‘wikimaster’. LGLibTech provides data on library technologies used in UK public libraries and has articles on major library technology related issues.
  • A shared library system infrastructure across a number of UK public libraries. We  worked with the Greater Manchester Libraries Shared Services Project board to  evaluate and analyse the library systems options for providing a one library card based entitlement across 10 Greater Manchester library authorities. The Project Board reported that: ‘The  report has given us a clear overview of the options for us to move towards an integrated library systems solution and provide better services to our users. It has helped us clarify the direction for the future’
  • A new technology infrastructure for a major UK public  library service.  We helped the library frame its requirements for a major step change across a range of library technologies. These included public access, resource management, customer engagement and the staff desktop infrastructure.
  • Improving library management system reporting infrastructure: Ken Chad Consulting was commissioned by a UK university to clarify options for delivering an easy to use and more flexible reporting infrastructure that would place far less demands on library systems staff than existing arrangements.
  • National digital library: Pakistan. Ken Chad facilitated workshops encompassing over 30 institutions to help improve the library infrastructure. They were organised by the charity International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publication (INASP) and the Pakistan Higher Education Commission (HEC).



  • Impact of library-centric reading list solutions on students, librarians and academics. We we undertook a number of interviews to better understand the impact of reading list solutions. This research was used in the Higher Education Library Technology (HELibTech)  briefing paper, ‘The rise of library centric reading lists‘ which was published in 2018.
  • The challenge of ebooks. The goal of the project is to help orientate senior institutional managers  and to support institutions in the effective adoption and deployment of ebooks and ebook technology. As a consequence the project helps to support the wider ambition to enable improvements in the quality and impact of teaching, learning and research and meet rising staff and student expectations.The work was guided by three core ebook themes – creation, curation and consumption These themes are usefully summarized in the infographics we created. We also produced case studies.
  • Ebooks: User (patron) driven acquisitions for ebooks. We  delivered a JISC project to  address the current knowledge gap in the discovery, selection and acquisition of e-books to discover what the main drivers are for user (‘patron’) driven acquisitions/recommendations.The output included results form a user survey, useful case studies and interviews with Librarians, Students Publishers and Intermediaries.
  • Open Source: Building and sustaining open source community capacity in UK academic libraries. We contributed to the  (JISC supported) SCONUL  ‘OpenEdge: Open source for libraries’ event held in Edinburgh in January 2011. More information on  Open Source in general is available on the  HELibTech website which is managed by Ken Chad Consulting
  • The impact of technology on a planned joint university and public library. A leading UK construction company commissioned this study. The review considered the strategic implications of new technologies and  included a detailed review of the options for RFID (Radio Frequency ID).
  • User activity data. The JISC  MOSAIC Project investigated the technical feasibility, service value and issues around exploiting user activity data, primarily to assist resource discovery and evaluation in Higher Education. Ken Chad Consulting worked in partnership with Sero Consulting, Mark van Harmelen (PLE Ltd), Paul Miller (Cloud of Data) and Dave Pattern (University of Huddersfield).
  • Electronic Resource Management (ERM): Shared, ‘above campus’, Electronic Resource Management (ERM) for UK HE. We worked as part of team of consultants lead by Sero Consulting on the SCONUL project supported by JISC.
  • Shared Services feasibility study into the library systems landscape in UK Higher Education. The study was commissioned by SCONUL and funded by HEFCE. Ken Chad worked in partnership with  Sero Consulting (project lead) and  Curtis + Cartwright. There is more information on the Shared Services page of HELibTech.
  • Bibliographic data: Research Information Network: bibliographic data creation and flow patterns. The broad aims of this project, completed in 2009 were to identify and map the current arrangements through which bibliographic records are created and the flow between publishers, libraries and other service providers in the UK. The result was the RIN report ‘Creating Catalogues: bibliographic records in a networked world‘.
  • Web 2.0/Library 2.0 and e-learning: A JISC project on Library 2.0 and the e-framework for learning. The ‘TILE’  project began in March and completed in the summer of 2008. Ken Chad Consulting was part of a  multi-disciplinary team that also included Sero Consulting and Psydev Ltd.


Horizon scanning and market intelligence

  • Market research. We undertook research covering Europe including the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. “Ken provided critical information on market segments we were considering for a new product. We knew his research background, connections in Europe and knowledge of the library community would be invaluable, and he delivered!” Erin Duncan OCLC, Product Marketing Manager
  • The library systems markets in the Nordic region, Europe and South Africa. The work was undertaken for a major global technology company.
  • The preservation and management of primary research data in UK Higher Education. Our project mapped and analysed the current situation.
  • A JISC & SCONUL commissioned evaluation and horizon scan of the HE LMS [library management system] landscape. The project  covered institutions across the UK and the major library system vendors in the HE market.
  • Advice to the House of Lords Library on current library-related technology and the state of the library management system market. We also facilitated workshops to engage library staff in the process, to promote team building and identify key system related needs prior to the library beginning a formal procurement process.