In a time when it’s rare to for a new product to enter the library automation market, InfoVision Software has quietly launched the Evolve Library Management System. This product targets public, school, and special libraries and will initially be marketed in the United States.
InfoVision Software developed the Evolve ILS, which was developed to replace the aging Amlib automation system that the company previously distributed on behalf of its Australian developer. In this early roll-out phase, Evolve will be primarily deployed to InfoVision Software’s current client libraries running Amlib. The product will be actively marketed to other libraries as the company completes these migrations and finishes development on some final features.
InfoVision Software provides several different technology products for city or county governments and utilities. In addition to the Evolve Library Management System, the company offers software for project planning and records management.
Technology and Features
One of the key characteristics of Evolve LMS involves its facility for complete customization. Each library can specify the fields, data, and layout if their needs are not met by the default screen displays.
The Evolve LMS includes all of the expected modules including circulation, cataloging and authorities, Web-based OPAC, patron maintenance, periodical and serials control, and reports and statistics. SIP2 support comes as an optional capability. A bookmobile module is under development.
History and Background
Originally established as a distributor for technology developed in Australia, InfoVision Software has made a transition into a firm that develops and supports its own software products. The history of this company includes involvement with Amlib, a library automation system created in Austrathe lia, the company that originally created Amlib, and with OCLC when it acquired Amlib.
Connection with Amlib and InfoVision Technology
Evolve aims to move beyond client/server computing into a more modern Web and services-based architecture. Amlib, in its day, was a pioneering product–one of the first to break away from the mainframe computing that dominated the previous phase of the industry and deliver library automation through personal computers and graphical interfaces in a client/server architecture.
The Amlib library management was initially created in 1993 for the Canning City Library in Western Australia. The library wanted to move away from their aging mainframe system, called LIBRARY39, developed by ICL (International Computers Limited), and move to a new system with graphical interfaces that used less expensive personal computers rather than an expensive mainframe. The Canning Library developed specifications for a new PC-based system and engaged Roger Armstrong, the programmer that originally developed LIBRARY39. Armstrong formed a company called AMSystems to develop and support the software for the Canning Library and eventually for other libraries in Western Australia.
The software was based on a database product called Gupta SQLBase, an early relational database and development environment for Microsoft Windows, and retained elements of the structure of LIBRARY39. Amlib was among the first library automation products that offered graphical clients for staff and public access functions. Gupta SQL Base was later renamed Centura SQLBase. Amlib was eventually extended to support Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle.
In 1995 Roger Armstrong joined forces with Harold Dykstra, who owned a firm called Mitec Computer Systems, to form a new company InfoVision Information Management to market Amlib throughout Australia. The company, then named InfoVision Technology, also offered a records management product called AUSInfo. Both of these products were based on the Microsoft Windows operating system.
Amlib proved to be a successful library management product in Australia. Since its introduction, it has been adopted by a large portion of the pubic and school libraries in Australia. Building on its domestic success, InfoVision Technology, as the company was known by that time, began creating arrangements to distribute Amlib in other geographical regions. The agreements involved an arrangement where InfoVision Technology continued its role in developing the software and its distributor market the product to develop new customers in its defined territory and provide installation, training, and first level support. InfoVision Technology would be available for second tier support and deliver ongoing releases of the software with bug fixes and enhancements.
In April 2003, InfoVision Technology Limited, with Alistair Robinson named as Managing Director, was formed to distribute and support Amlib in the United Kingdom and Ireland. InfoVision Africa Pty Ltd was established in April as the distributor for Amlib in Africa. Marketing and support for Amlib in Africa has since shifted to Sabinet Online Limited (http://www.sabinet.co.za/?page=library-management-systems).
Amlib Launched in the United States through Brodart
In May 2000, InfoVision Technology created a partnership establishing Brodart as its exclusive distributor for Amlib in North America. Brodart was a well established provider of furniture, supplies, and other products to libraries. Brodart had its own Automation Division, established in 1974, and created a popular CD-ROM based cataloging product named Precision One and an online catalog called LePac. In 2001 Brodart acquired the automation products of CRS, Inc., including the Media Minder for the management of media center operations.
Brodart saw considerable early success with Amlib. By April 2001 Brodart secured 45 sales of Amlib in the United States. In subsequent years, sales were not as strong. In 2004 Brodart exited its involvement with Amlib, allowing its agreement with InfoVision Technology to expire.
InfoVision Software Launched
InfoVision Software was formed in 2002 by Bruce Elliot to operate as the North American distributor for the records management product of InfoVision Technology, known by that time as the InfoVision eDRMS. Since Brodart had exclusive rights to market Amlib in North America, InfoVision Software was not initially involved in the library market, but focused on the content and document management products for local governments and federal agencies.
InfoVision Software began its involvement with libraries in 2004 following Brodart’s withdrawal from marketing Amlib. InfoVision Software added this product to its portfolio and became the distributor of the Amlib integrated library system in North America. The company inherited the North American customers of Amlib, cultivated by Brodart, and began to market the software to new clients. By the end of 2009 InfoVision Software had about 80 library customers operating Amlib.
In August 2006, InfoVision Software began phasing out their involvement with the InfoVision eDRMS in favor of their own product. The company was especially concerned that the InfoVision eDRMS was not able to pass the requirements for Department of Defense certification. Named RMConsole, this new product was based on the Micro soft .NET technology, which provided a modern platform that could be engineered to deliver features not available in the original InfoVision product. The product has recently been branded the Evolve ERDMS.
In January 2007, InfoVision Technology launched its own next-generation content and document management product called InfoXpert, based on Web interfaces and Microsoft .NET architecture to succeed the InfoVision eDRMS.
OCLC Acquires Amlib
In September 2008, the course of Amlib events took a new turn when OCLC acquired the rights to the Amlib Library Management system. Just prior to this transaction, InfoVision Technology separated into two companies: Amlib Pty. Ltd, dealing with the Amlib ILS and InfoXpert Pty. Ltd. which held onto the company’s interests in document, content, and records management. In January 2007, the company had launched its new generation product, called InfoXpert, to succeed the InfoVision eDRMS as its flagship document and records management platform. InfoXpert continues to operate, with Trevor Dykstra as Managing Director and has recently expanded with the launch of its new KnowledgeXpert integrated knowledge management and enterprise search solution.
OCLC folded Amlib into is UK operating division, formed when it acquired Fretwell-Downing in 2005. OCLC (UK) took responsibility for ongoing development and second-tier support for its distributors, including InfoVision Software. More recently OCLC has organized is library automation products into a division called Management Services and Systems. This division includes the entire portfolio of OCLC’s library automation products, including Amlib, SISIS-Sunrise, OLIB, LBS, CBS, and the Web-scale Management System.
Conflict with OCLC
The transition of ownership between InfoVision Technology and OCLC did not go well from InfoVision Software’s perspective. Dissatisfied with the lack of development of Amlib, InfoVision Software withheld payment of its license fees to OCLC. When OCLC threatened to become involved with its US customers by appointing a new distributor, InfoVision Software filed a lawsuit claiming that ongoing development and second-level support had not been provided and asking the court to prohibit OCLC from contacting its customers. In the absence of substantive development and secondary support, InfoVision Software claimed it was not obligated to pay the license fees to OCLC. In response to nonpayment OCLC terminated the license for InfoVision to distribute Amlib effective December 14, 2009.
InfoVision Software filed its complaint in the United States District Court Southern District of California on December 9, 2009, case number 3:09-cv-02714-JMA. In its complaint, InfoVision Software submitted a motion to maintain its current status including a prohibition against OCLC approaching its customers. The court issued a preliminary ruling against this motion, not on the merits but on issues of jurisdiction. In lieu of further proceedings, InfoVision and OCLC were ultimately able to amicably settle their differences, as reflected in the transcripts of an “early neutral evaluation” hearing held in court on February 1, 2010. InfoVision Software would not continue as an Amlib distributor and would pay only a portion of the license fees due prior to the termination. InfoVision Software goes forward with Evolve Library Management System Given the company’s experience as a software developer and its concern that Amlib would not be developed in a way that would attract new customers, InfoVision elected to create a new library automation product. According to InfoVision Software president Bill Elliot, “the company saw a good opportunity for a well-engineered, fully configurable product. Many of the other library systems on the market are based on obsolete technology.”
InfoVision Software began the development of Evolve LMS in June 2009. Such rapid development was made possible through the company’s earlier work to create a configuration engine for the .NET platform as the basis of its development of earlier projects such as its Evolve Electronic Document and Records Management System. With this configuration engine in place, applications for new vertical industries, such as library automation, could be produced in a matter of months. InfoVision has also created Evolve Planning, a project management product for city and county governments.
Currently, InfoVision Software is busy completing the finishing touches on its Evolve LMS and migrating its existing customer base from Amlib. Though the license to distribute Amlib has ended, InfoVision Software and OCLC work together to ensure that the libraries continue to receive support until they are able to migrate.
Sources: E-mail interviews conducted with Trevor Dykstra, General Manager of InfoVision Technology; Bruce Elliot, President of InfoVision Software; Judi Willmott, Library Manager of Canning Library Services; documents filed related to Infovision Software vs OCLC (UK).
InfoVision Software: http://www.infovisionsoftware.com/
OCLC Management Services: http://www.oclc.org/services/management/
|1993||Amlib developed for the Canning Public Library in Western Australia by AMSystems|
|1995||AMSystems becomes InfoVision Management Systems|
|May 2000||Brodart becomes exclusive distributor for Amlib in North America|
|2002||InfoVision Software founded by Bruce Elliot|
|April 2003||InfoVision Technology Limited formed to market Amlib in the UK and Ireland|
|2004||Brodart withdraws as distributor of Amlib|
|Jan 2004||InfoVision Software assumes role to distribute Amlib in North America|
|Aug 2006||InfoVision launches RMConsole, later known as Evolve ERDMS|
|Jan 2007||InfoVision Technology launches InfoXpert|
|Sept 2008||InfoVision Technology separates into two companies and InfoXpert Pty. Ltd.|
|Sept 2008||OCLC acquires Amlib Pty. Ltd|
|June 2009||InfoVision Software begins development of Evolve Library Management System|
|Dec 9, 2009||InfoVision Software files lawsuit against OCLC (UK)|
|Dec 14, 2009||OCLC (UK) terminates InfoVision Software license to distribute Amlib|
|Feb 1, 2010||InfoVision Software and OCLC (UK) reach out of court settlement.|