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Rialto Development Series: Interview with Joanne Dunham and Esther Arens, University of Leicester
ProQuest Rialto is a groundbreaking solution to the challenges of selection and acquisition for academic libraries
ProQuest recently spoke with two librarians at the University of Leicester – Joanne Dunham, Associate Director of Resources and Information, and Esther Arens, Head of Resources – about their experiences as development partners for Rialto.
University of Leicester is a leading U.K. university committed to international excellence, world-changing research and quality, inspirational teaching. Founded in 1921 as a memorial to the Great War, the University of Leicester has a proud history of ambitious projects that lead to amazing discoveries.
What has your experience as a ProQuest Rialto development partner been like?
Esther: It’s just fascinating to be at the inception of new product and to see functionality added and refined. I’ve been particularly interested to hear about different practices from libraries in North America, especially around selection. For example, approval plans are big in the U.S. and Canada, while they are just not part of the picture here.
People are really doing things differently and this has prompted us to review our own processes, which was one of the reasons the University of Leicester became a Rialto development partner. Ultimately, we want to bring content to people who need it, at the time they need it, with minimum staff intervention and cost. And we know Rialto will play a huge part in doing that.
Joanne: We’ve been able to bring our whole team onboard – including our academic liaison team and our acquisitions team. They have been looking at the UX and the whole platform to provide feedback as Rialto is being developed.
Esther: Apart from giving us a broader picture and shaping our workflows, being a development partner has benefited us in terms of staff development. Staff who do a lot of the day-to-day ordering got involved and provided their input. This experience has boosted their confidence and given them ownership already, even before we start using Rialto.
How does being a development partner for Rialto fit in with your library or university mission?
Joanne: Our institution emphasizes the student experience, and the library can help achieve that by getting the content students want and delivering it in timely fashion. We believe Rialto can make selection and acquisition more efficient, ultimately getting it to students faster. From a library perspective, we’re always looking for ways to create business, process and cost efficiencies while having the right impacts across the board.
Has your involvement as a Rialto development partner prompted you to learn more about a new area?
Esther: For me, it’s changed part of how I approach my job. There’s always new functionality to be discovered. I enjoy working on that – so when we were approached by ProQuest, I knew it would be a good idea. It’s part of what everybody in the library should do – think about new things and new ideas to keep us ahead of the curve.
Joanne: What it’s prompted me to think more about is the total end-to-end process, from the selection piece to the end and discovery, how that work flows, how different teams and faculty interact with these processes. It’s got us to think about more how we are using Ex Libris Alma and Primo, and ultimately how we are using our interactions with suppliers and vendors including things like real-time availability APIs. These are all the things Rialto will help us to do, but the process got me to focus my attention around those areas.
Ultimately, it’s helping us change the way we think about managing collections. We acquired this material -- but how is it being used and how we can use that information to make further decisions? You tend to do these things in chunks instead of looking at the whole process. Being a Rialto development partner has helped me look at the whole end-to-end workflow.
Previous Rialto Development Partner interviews:Gavin Phillips, Imperial College