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Perspective and commentary by Marshall Breeding
As a contributing editor to Smart Libraries Newsletter published by ALA TechSource, I write one or more short articles each month on developments in the field of library automation. This publication, known from 1981-2000 as Library Systems Newsletter, has chronicled the events in the field since July 1981. Iíve had the privilege to contribute since 2005. My agreement with ALA allows me to post what I write for them on my Web site after a specified embargo period. For 2009 it was 3 months, beginning in 2010 it will be 6 months. I believe this is a fair arrangement that helps sustain TechSource, but that provides open access within a reasonable period. To get access to SLN articles as they are published, consider subscribing.
I posted my contributions to the SLN for the first half of 2009 in an earlier post. Here are the stories from the second half of the year:
Another development involving consolidation among nonprofit organizations involves the OCLC regional cooperatives. Formally established April 1, 2009, Lyrasis emerged out of a merger between Atlanta-based SOLINET, serving a large number of libraries in the southeastern United States, with PALINET, based in Philadelphia and serving the mid-Atlantic region. The merger culminates a process that formally began in February 2008.
After a long period of development, testing and some delays, BiblioCommons appears poised to move forward as a contender in the arena of discovery interfaces. Developed by a Toronto-based company of the same name, BiblioCommons offers a new approach to the discovery interface that fully embraces social networking as a fundamental component in the way that patrons find and select resources from library collections.
In the rapidly moving world of discovery products, EBSCO Publishing has developed a series of products and partnerships that make it a strong competitor. A longstanding provider of aggregated article databases and other information products, EBSCO has extended its strategic product suite into the arena of broader discovery services. In recent months, the company has announced a number of partnerships for content and extensions to its technology platform related to this new suite of products and services.
Softlink International, a global company that produces the Liberty and Oliver library automation systems, has made a number of noteworthy changes over the last year. They have installed a new CEO for the global company and new management at their US subsidiary, and have incorporated a major independent distributor into the parent company. Softlink International reports that its software finds use in over 10,000 libraries spanning 108 countries, making it a key player in the library software world. The company offers library automation products for school, corporate, academic, and public libraries. In the United States Softlink has not gained wide adoption in large public or academic libraries, but has a substantial presence in school and corporate libraries.
One of the benefits cited by many libraries using an open source ILS is that they are not tied to a single organization for support services, hosting, and development. We have previously provided coverage of LibLimeís role as the first commercial company in the United States to provide support for an open source ILS. LibLime has been providing support for Koha since early 2005 and continues as the dominant Koha service provider.Over time, a number of other firms have began providing services to help libraries implement and maintain Koha, both within the United States and internationally. These companies operate both cooperatively and competitively. They cooperate in the development of the Koha software upon which they all depend, and they compete to gain the business of libraries for support services.
LibLime has launched an enhanced version of the open source Koha ILS, called LibLimeEnterprise Koha (LLEK), hosted on a highly-scaleable platform and designed to offer abroader set of functionality with high reliability and fast performance. LLEK makes useof Amazonís platform-as-a-service cloud computing infrastructure. LibLimeís launch of a private hosted version, though legally compliant with GPL, has enraged the other companies involved with Koha. Deep animosity now exists between LibLime and the other companies and individuals involved in the support and development of Koha. The prevailing view among the developers external to LibLime is that there has been a fork in Koha development, a state where multiple independent versions split apart with significant variations.
In a major boost for open source library automation, the Institute for Museums and Library Science has funded a grant proposal, Empowered by Open Source, to facilitate the adoption of open source automation software in libraries. Led by the King County Library System in Washington State, along with three other major public library systems, the $998,556 award will help create resources that will help libraries break away from proprietary ILS products and make the transition to open source alternatives. The institutions involved will match the IMLS funds with $1,014,400 of in-kind contributions. The grant was part of the $17.9 million distributed to 51 institutions as part of theNational Leadership Grants announced in September of 2009.
SkyRiver, a new company delivering bibliographic services in competition with OCLC, formally announced its launch in early October 2009. The company offers a suite of software and services that compete with the cataloging services of OCLC. The service includes a bibliographic database of MARC records, a cataloging client, and a set of services for record delivery and enhancement. The SkyRiver database has initially beenpopulated with bibliographic and authority records from a variety of sources including the Library of Congress, the British Library as well as with records from the current cataloging activities of a broad set of libraries. The service includes record delivery for those not immediately available in the database and notification when enhanced records become available. SkyRiverís goal is to offer a competitive product at a subscription cost around 40 percent lower than what libraries would otherwise pay to OCLC.
In recent months, two major lawsuits have been filed in the the library automationindustry. Queens Borough Public Library filed a complaint on July 2, 2009 against SirsiDynix for breach of contract and 3M has filed suit against EnvisionWare for patent infringement. Both of these lawsuits address interesting issues that bring pivotal libraryautomation legal concerns to the surface. Neither accusation has been proven, and both are still pending legal action or settlement. The complaints filed with the courts stand as public documents exposing the plaintiffsí concerns in detail. The defendantís response to those claims may not become public until the issue comes before a court, or may never be disclosed if the parties settle out of court. While major lawsuits attract much attention, they must be considered skeptically until both sides of the matter can be understood.
In recent times, we have seen an increasing number of broad-based ILS implementations, often spanning entire states or provinces. Two recent implementations illustrate of this trend, one an open source system for provincial school libraries and another a large consortium of libraries in Tasmania.
Marshall Breeding May 10, 2010 12:23:26 Link to this thread