Name:Marshall Breeding
Organization:Library Technology Guides

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Perspective and commentary by Marshall Breeding

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Graphic illustration of Library Automation history

Library Automaiton History

A few years ago, I developed a graphic that illustrates the history of the library automation industry, showing the various mergers and acquisitions that have taken place over the years. I've now posted an updated version of the graphic that brings it up to date and adds a few new companies.

To create this graphic, I use a spreadsheet to create colored cells that represent the lifetime of each company, including the year it was established and when it was absorbed into another company through many of the business acquisitions that have taken place. While the graphic looks pretty simple, it boils down lots of data into a visual that describes the complex business history in a glance.

The transition from fragmentation to consolidation stands out as the main theme illustrated by the graphic. In earlier years, a larger number of smaller companies competed within a limited economy, that is the universe of libraries acquiring and maintaining library management products. In many cases, companies that originally served a specific country or region have been absorbed into companies with international scope. Many of the survivors of the industry that we see today include very large consolidated companies addressing libraries in many regions worldwide.

One of the companies that I added in this revision of the graphic is Axiell Library Group. This company is not well known in North America since it serves primarily libraries in the Nordic Region in Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. The 2007 acquisition of DS brought the United Kingdom into its reach. This company has come to its current state through a long sequence of mergers and business transitions. Since I don't read the languages involved, it's been difficult for me to work through the details; any help from readers in that region to confirm or correct the details would be greatly appreciated.

I do expect that the map will continue to change over the next few years. We can certainly expect changes in ownership in one or more of the companies held by private equity firms. These investments, many of which were made in 2006 when private equity discovered the library automation industry, were not necessarily made to gain permanent ownership. The timings will vary, but one can expect exit strategies that will result in new ownership and possible new combinations of the companies involved.

Marshall Breeding Jun 13, 2010 16:17:11 Link to this thread Digg it!  Share on Facebook  post to

Thanks for this! I used this chart (explaining that it was always in a state of flux) in teaching my IST 667 Information Technology for Libraries and Information Centers course at Syracuse University. I appreciate the update!

Beverly Choltco-devlin Jun 18, 2010 08:00:57

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