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What is LEANWI?


The Libraries and Enterprise Applications Nexus of Wisconsin (LEANWI) is a pioneering partnership among Wisconsin library systems dedicated to enhancing services to member libraries. It applies lean industry principles to streamline and continually improve processes to boost efficiency to better serve public library users.

By partnering across library systems, LEANWI seeks to standardize core network and technology support services to provide a “backbone” of technology infrastructure on which a modern library information management and technology delivery system can be built.

Who is LEANWI?


The collaboration originated in 2015 between the Wisconsin Valley Library Service ( - 25 libraries) and the IFLS Library System ( - 53 libraries). By August 2016, the partnership was formalized, benefiting 78 member libraries. Subsequently, the Northern Waters Library Service ( - 28 libraries) became full partners in January 2019, and the Winding Rivers Library System ( - 38 libraries) began collaboration with LEANWI's Website Service in January 2024.

What does LEANWI do?


LEANWI focuses on the physical networking infrastructure that provides internet and connectivity between libraries and collaborates on related technology services such as group equipment purchasing and maintenance, computer procurement and support, licensing and contract negotiation and management.

The structure of the partnership creates a shared budget and business management for infrastructure and shared projects that extend beyond basic network hardware and software. Additional services now include:

  • library website hosting, design, and support,
  • support and collaboration for storage and backup of digitization of historic documents,
  • fiscal and administrative management for large grants.

What are the benefits of LEANWI?


LEANWI provides member libraries with cost-saving benefits and enhanced services through collaborative partnerships:

  • Economy of scale in purchasing, licensing, and management of technology systems and equipment, resulting in lower costs for member libraries.
  • Access to a team of seven IT and technology-trained staff supporting over 100 libraries, offering expertise and support across various areas.
  • Pooled productivity software licensing and bulk purchasing for cost efficiency.
  • Shared business and administrative management, including centralized budgeting, streamlining operations for member libraries.
  • Centralized network infrastructure and monitoring ensure reliable internet service and coordinated response to security threats.
  • Capacity to test innovative practices and systems, bringing efficiencies and fresh solutions to standardized practices.
  • Training and support spread across multiple library systems through shared documentation, curriculum, and trainers.

Overall, these benefits result in lower technology management fees, equipment procurement costs, and improved service delivery for member libraries.

LEANWI today


As of 2023, seven system staff provide technology support to all LEANWI partner's member libraries. While focusing on their system's libraries, they coordinate high level technology management to standardize operations and procedures across systems and collaborate on projects, troubleshooting, and training.

LEANWI Services

Technology Support Services
Technology Support Services

LEANWI Core Services

  • Network: physical cables, servers, and virtual infrastructure supporting connectivity among libraries and systems.
  • Email and productivity: Office 365 application licensing and centralized email management.
  • Security: virus protection, security alerts, and internet safety training for staff.
  • Shared applications: includes DeepFreeze public PC restore, Pharos public PC timing, Princh print management, Splashtop remote PC access, and various backend licensing and services.
  • Tech support: help desk services via HelpScout, computer procurement and management, and support staff.

Economies of Scale
Economies of Scale

Virtual Server Hosting

Provides libraries and library systems outside the LEANWI service collaboration with virtual server and storage capacity within the LEANWI infrastructure.

Integrated Library Service ("Sierra") database support
Integrated Library Service ("Sierra") database support

Integrated Library System (ILS) support

The ILS – Integrated Library System - is at the center of modern library service. This giant database contains records of all individual library holdings and registered borrowers and provides a mechanism for tracking location, loans, cataloging, purchasing, and general management of the library collection as items move among member libraries. This demands a high level of skilled technological and database support, plus robust network infrastructure (internally wired and internet-connected) that can handle large amounts of dataflow.

Each LEANWI library system partner currently maintains their own independent ILS database and support staff, but LEANWI hosts each ILS on a shared, integrated network infrastructure that can share appropriate equipment, network setup, maintenance, and data control.

LEANWI Website Service
LEANWI Website Service

LEANWI Websites

Since 2017, LEANWI has been offering comprehensive website hosting, design, and training/support services tailored for both individual libraries and system websites. The organization's mission is to ensure equitable access to attractive, functional, and accessible websites for all libraries, irrespective of their size or staff expertise. LEANWI aims to relieve the financial burdens associated with hosting and domain management while empowering libraries with training on a common Content Management System (CMS), currently WordPress with the Divi theme.

By 2023, 83 member libraries and nine system websites were part of the LEANWI hosting service. There is potential for an additional 15-20 sites in the Northern Waters Library System.

In early 2024, LEANWI welcomed its first shared staff member dedicated to website management. The cost of this position is distributed proportionally among partner systems, reflecting the collaborative resource management approach.

Moreover, in 2024, the Winding Rivers Library System (WRLS), comprising 34 libraries, recognized the growth potential and enhancement opportunities through collaboration with LEANWI. By leveraging existing infrastructure, WRLS joined the Website Service, aligning with their commitment to providing quality website hosting and services. While accommodating potential growth, LEANWI remains focused on effectively balancing shared human resources to ensure continued service excellence.

Digitization, storage, and backup of historic documents
Digitization, storage, and backup of historic documents


LEANWI and the South Central Library System offer backup and storage equipment for digital archives of materials and metadata for public libraries in Wisconsin. This initiative is done in partnership with Recollection Wisconsin and managed through the Wisconsin Public Library Consortium (WPLC) Digital Archives Backup Collaboration Group (

Grants and business management

LEANWI serves as the network hub for connecting member libraries and systems to state and federal grants. The administrative requirements of many of these grants would be beyond the ability for most member libraries or even single library systems. LEANWI provides administrative, reporting, and fiscal agent services to support both direct and flow-through grant support.