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Lean Library in 2023: Innovations, Milestones and Events

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As we near the end of 2023, it’s time to take a trip down memory lane and reflect on what has been a fantastic year for Lean Library: A resource access and workflow services tool for libraries.

Lean Library has undergone growth and major development this year, thanks to our customer loyalty, feedback, and new university partners. Here’s what happened in 2023…

2023 in numbers: Saved patrons and libraries (a lot!) of time and money

Libraries work diligently to curate the best collections, resources and services to support their patrons. However, librarians are often the unsung heroes on and off campus, with students and researchers not properly utilizing (or even being aware of!) the extent of library services and resources.

Every day of 2023, Lean Library promoted and increased awareness of libraries by seamlessly bringing library content and services into patrons’ online workflows via the Lean Library browser extension (whether they were on Google, PudMed or beyond). This made patrons’ lives easier, improving their productivity and saving them time and money. And with over half a million downloads of the browser extension, Lean Library made a big impact around the world, as demonstrated in the infographic below:

Illustration showing key usage stats for Lean Library in 2023

Redesigned the extension: Lean Library got a makeover!

In 2023, we completely redesigned Lean Library and improved the browser extension to launch on all major web browsers, including Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Opera, Mozilla Firefox, and Safari. This launch marked a significant step in Lean Library’s journey as the most comprehensive access broker and workflow tool with a goal to make learning and research workflows smoother than ever before.

The redesign was driven by invaluable feedback from librarians, students, and researchers. We completely revamped the browser extension to be quicker, sleeker, and better than before, with:

  • A refreshed and intuitive design with minimum distractions that emphasizes your content to make it easily accessible to your patrons.
  • Streamlined navigation for an effortless browsing experience. All navigation is now on one side tray with notifications and features all in one place, enriching the library’s digital presence.
  • Enhanced performance and speed for a swifter browsing experience, giving patrons instant access to their favorite library resources.

Development in 2023: Doubling down on core features

Got serious about stats

Useful stats and insights are key to any library in demonstrating the value of a technology they implement. That’s why Lean Library launched a new Stats Insight Dashboard that provides insights on Lean Library’s stats on real-benefit factors including:

  • Time saved for patrons
  • Open Access content provided to patrons
  • Visibility of library/university branding
  • Usage compared to other libraries

This takes Lean Library beyond raw statistics to unveil the real value that Lean Library brings to institutions, making it simpler for librarians to demonstrate its value as a must-have tool. The impactful insights enable libraries to build a story around their patron’s usage and visualize the positive impact of Lean Library in transforming the library’s visibility and usage.

Advanced with Alternatives 2.0: Surfacing print books, full title books, and eBooks

The Alternatives feature is a core Lean Library feature that helps patrons access digital resources easily in alternative ways. In 2023, a series of improvements were released to Lean Library, dubbed ‘Alternatives 2.0’, to better support the library in uniting their diverse range of collections in the open web, from print to digital. We strive to be the solution that brings together these rich, library-held collections to users, when they would not typically go to the library environments to find them. The Alternatives 2.0 improvements are as follows:

  • Lean Library is now also compatible with ISBN for ILL/DDS: Previously, our ILL/DDS feature only supported only articles and books on a chapter level using DOI. Now, it supports full title compatibility via ISBN. This means patrons browsing for books online are shown free full title book alternatives in your library holdings, to save them buying resources you already have.
  • Lean Library now surfaces print books from your library collection: Given the shift in patron search behavior, where patrons no longer begin their search in the library, it extremely difficult for the library’s physical collections to be visible to patrons. To make physical collections more discoverable, this new feature enables patrons to easily check if there is a physical book alternative option available in your library when they land on books on bookseller websites.
  • Lean Library now surfaces Open Access eBooks alternatives for patrons: With Open Access monograph mandates looming, there will be an influx of Open Access monographs available from January 2024. Therefore, Lean Library has ingested the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB), is managed by the OAPEN Foundation, to surface Open Access eBook alternatives when landing on bookseller sites.

How libraries increased awareness and usage of resources in 2023

Zurich University of the Arts raised awareness and drove usage of a special collection

Zurich University of the Arts implemented Lean Library to enhance their user-centered library strategy and make patrons aware of the many great resources they have access to – thanks to their library. They utilized Lean Library’s enhanced content integration feature to surface the library’s ‘Very Short Introductions‘ collection, which offers a concise and original introduction to a wide range of subjects. By surfacing this collection on Wikipedia and other sites, it promotes it to patrons at point of need.

Often Wikipedia is the starting point for basic research. By linking to the Very Short Introductions collection, we can inform our students and other members of the university of additional valuable information the library licences, and which patrons might not be aware of.”

Simone Welti, Library Information Specialist, Zurich University of the Arts

Kennesaw State University drastically increased patron usage of digital collections

In July 2023, Kennesaw State University Library implemented Lean Library to promote and drive usage of its digital collections. The library saw an drastic increase in library collected usage after implementing Lean Library, growing from 88 to 3,355 library resources accessed in just 4 months. That’s a whopping 3,712% increase, clearly highlighting the valuable Lean Library unlocks for both the library and patrons.

Lean Library has been instrumental in helping students and faculty become aware of the breadth of resources they can access through our subscriptions, particularly those provided through academic publishers.

Karen Doster-Greenleaf, Director of Research & Instructional Services/Librarian Associate Professor at Kennesaw State University


What other librarians and students said about Lean Library in 2023

The service makes my work in research and document finding that much easier for me. Thank you!”

Student, Kennesaw State University

I started using Lean Library when I started researching my dissertation and realized I couldn’t possibly go through 20 different pages of Google Scholar, figuring out if I had access to them. It’s saved me a lot of time.”

BA Student, University of Lincoln

Lean Library is a very useful tool, especially for students, who often forget about the search tools offered by the library… One of the best things is its human team… we are taken very good care of.”

Librarian, University of Extremadura

Community building in 2023

2023 has been a year full of many Lean Library webinars, conferences, and events that gathered librarians from all corners of the world – from the United States to Europe to Australia. We’ve been delighted to grow our connections and relationships with libraries across the globe and it has been a memorable journey for all of us at Lean Library.

Lean Library’s user community joined Tech from Sage Insight 2023

Lean Library’s user community came together in-person at the inaugural Tech from Sage Insight in Birmingham, UK. The event connected users to learn best practice, network, and workshop hot topics like AI in academia or the knowledge gap between librarians and students. Attendees gained insights from experts, learned about evolving needs of patrons, and explored ways to enhance their library through technology. It was a librarian’s dream event, but don’t worry if you missed out as the talks are still available here.


Hosted partner university events on how they’re using Lean Library

It was an honor to host an engaging in-person event at University of Salford, diving into the massive role academic libraries play in supporting student success and the challenges they face. University of Salford library presented on how they’ve used Lean Library to ensure students can seamlessly access vital study materials and bridge the knowledge gap between the library and students.


Presented sessions at key conferences in 2023

Lean Library had a blast presenting at various conferences throughout the year, including these sessions at ER&L in Texas and ACRL in Pittsburgh:

  1. Future-proofing access: Going where your patrons are.
  2. Unveiling a new user-centered approach on the delivery of library services: A case study from Bangor University Library.
  3. Students are stressed: Lean Library and Springshare’s LibGuides and LibChat integration

Image showing amount of conferences Lean Library has been to in 2023

That’s a wrap on 2023!

The team at Lean Library thank our university partners for a great year and look forward to connecting more libraries with their patrons in 2024. If your library is contemplating an access broker, looking to streamline access and drive usage of library holdings, or wants support moving toward a patron-centric approach, get in touch below to arrange a demo of Lean Library today.

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