British Library signs £2.3m contract with Capgemini

The British Library has selected Capgemini UK to design and implement a new system for its website to help improve its online ordering services. Integration of disparate existing systems will be key to the project.

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The British Library has selected Capgemini UK to design and implement a new system for its website to help improve its online ordering services. Integration of disparate existing systems will be key to the project.

Capgemini will create a new Integrated Request Management and Delivery System (IRMDS) to go live by January 2011. Other companies in the running for the £2.3m contract were Avanade, Hitachi and Logica.

The project will begin with an initial proof-of-concept stage based on the Adobe LiveCycle Enterprise Suite, which Capgemini UK has previously implemented in government departments and organisations in the financial sector.

Ed Fowler, Capgemini business architect for the British Library contract, said that the project primarily aims to integrate the library’s existing systems, which includes search engines, a customer relationship management (CRM) system and e-business.

The new IRMDS will be based on the British Library’s virtual environment using Windows and potentially some Linux, while the database will run on a SQL Server 2005.

As well as Adobe LifeCycle, ANTLR parsing engine will be used to deal with machine-to-machine requests, breaking down data formats such as ART and OCLC to XML. Meanwhile the front-end will be built around Adobe Flex.

In addition, at a later stage subject to review, Fowler said that Capgemini plans to add Kofax Capture to the system to boost the library’s scanning and digitisation capabilities.

The British Library currently has a mixture of in-house and externally-developed systems, which the new system hopes to combine into one system.

Bob Aspey, IRMDS programme manager at the British Library, said: “The objective is to integrate everything into a single platform, and to modernise the platform. Many of the systems are over 10 years old and are rather inflexible.”

“The most important benefit is that it [the new system] will allow us to offer a better service to our customers. There will be a more simple ordering process. A customer will be able to go onto a catalogue, do a search, identify items they want and put it into an online shopping basket.”

He added: “There will also be improved and earlier pricing information and customers can track the ordering process. At the moment, although you can specify the level of service you need, you have very little information about availability and progress about the order.”

The Capgemini team will be working out of the British Library’s Boston Spa centre and at a Capgemini development centre in Woking.

One of the world's largest research libraries, the British Library loans documents to readers, business and industry, researchers, academics and students, in the UK and worldwide.

It holds over 150 million items and around a million new items are added annually, with the library’s online catalogue generating around six million searches each year.

In recent years, the Library implemented a customer relationship management (CRM) system that combined the information on its 37 databases into one system. The Library installed Microsoft Dynamics CRM, with the help of their system integrator Vodafone Applications Group, formerly called Aspective.

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