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Axiell Group Acquires Adlib Information Systems

Smart Libraries Newsletter [April 2013]

Breeding, Marshall.

Copyright (c) 2013 ALA TechSource

Abstract: In a move that consolidates two companies that produce systems for managing museum, archive, and library collections, Axiell Group has acquired Adlib Information Systems. Axiell offers a variety of library automation systems used in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom as well as Axiell CALM, for the management of archive and museum collections. Adlib's products find use primarily in museums, archives, and special libraries. The acquisition of Adlib, a company with particular strengths in the museum and archive automation sector, significantly expands Axiell's reach, especially into the museum sector and also into many new geographic areas. While it has not yet ventured into the North American library automation market, Axiell, with its growing arsenal of products, warrants attention as a major, global contender with the potential to expand into new geographic regions.


In a move that consolidates two companies that produce systems for managing museum, archive, and library collections, Axiell Group has acquired Adlib Information Systems. Axiell offers a variety of library automation systems used in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom as well as Axiell CALM, for the management of archive and museum collections. Adlib's products find use primarily in museums, archives, and special libraries. The acquisition of Adlib, a company with particular strengths in the museum and archive automation sector, significantly expands Axiell's reach, especially into the museum sector and also into many new geographic areas. While it has not yet ventured into the North American library automation market, Axiell, with its growing arsenal of products, warrants attention as a major, global contender with the potential to expand into new geographic regions.

Although the financial transaction closed on March 1, 2013, the operational merger of Adlib into Axiell will not take place until 2014. Adlib was privately owned by Bert Degenhart Drenth, who served as its Chief Executive Officer and Marijke van der Kwartel, its Chief Financial Officer. Both will join Axiell and continue with their leadership of Adlib.

This acquisition is the latest in a series of business acquisitions that has built Axiell into the largest company involved in library and archives automation in Europe, and one of the largest in the world. In an earlier phase, between 2001 and 2007, the company's acquisitions brought together all the major competitors for public library automation systems in Denmark, Finland, and Sweden. In 2008, it acquired DS, the company that developed the OpenGalaxy system used in many public libraries in the UK.

Axiell Group Corporate Background

Axiell, though not well known in the United States, is a major supplier of automation systems to libraries, museums, and archives in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. Prior to the acquisition of Adlib, Axiell employed just under 200 personnel, which ranks it as eighth largest globally, behind Ex Libris, Civica, SirsiDynix, Follett Software Company, Innovative Interfaces, Serials Solutions, and The Library Corporation. In 2011 the total revenue for the company was €37.7 million Euros or just over $49 million, which would place Axiell Group behind Ex Libris, Innovative Interfaces, SirsiDynix, and Follett Software Company. The acquisition of Adlib will expand annual revenue by about €3.5 million or $4.5 million.

Axiell Group includes four subsidiary companies, comprising four groups addressing specific countries in which the company operates:

  • Axiell Sweden
    Axiell Sverige AB, responsible for LIBRA.SE, BOOK-IT and SkolArena.
  • Axiell Denmark
    Axiell Denmark A/S, responsible for DDElibra
  • Axiell Finland
    Axiell Finland Oy, Responsible for Axiell Aurora and LIBRA.FI
  • Axiell UK + Ireland
    Responsible for OpenGalaxy (Former DS company), currently used in about 70 library systems in the United Kingdom. and another division responsible for its archives and museum product:
  • Axiell CALM
    Axiell Calm for Archives and Museums

Customers include more than 700 public libraries in Nordic Countries, 70 library services in the United Kingdom, and more than 3,000 schools using Axiell's School Library systems. Through its succession business acquisitions, Axiell has responsibility for a number of integrated library systems, which include:

  • Origo, developed by Akateeminen Tietopalvelu ATP Oy, acquired by Axiell Group in December 2007.
  • PallasPro, an ILS developed by TietoEnator Libraries Oy, acquired by Axiell in February 2007, and used exclusively in Finland.
  • BOOK-IT, the successor system of the BTJ-2000 system, developed by BTJ Systems, which was acquired by Axiell in 2001.
  • DDElibra, ILS developed by Axiell for public and school libraries in Denmark.
  • LIBRA.FI, ILS developed by Axiell for libraries in Finland.
  • LIBRA.SE, ILS developed by Axiel for libraries in Sweden.
  • FreeLib, a library system for schools and school libraries in all sizes.
  • OpenGalaxy PLUS, originally developed by a company based in the United Kingdom, called DS, acquired by Axiell Group in April 2008. OpenGalaxy continues to be used by 68 library services in the UK, including the London Libraries Consortium. This system has not been adopted outside of the UK.
  • Aurora, a relatively new product created by Axiell as a successor to its ILS products offered in Finland, which include Libra.FI, Origo, and PallasPro; it is available to the libraries operating these products as a standard upgrade without additional licensing costs.

Axiell has followed a rather soft product integration strategy as it has brought new companies and their respective products into the fold. In most cases, it has continued to develop and maintain the products of the acquired companies. This strategy causes less disruption, respecting the often country-specific practices and standards embodied in these established automation systems. An example of Axiell's product integration is seen in Finland, where a new product Aurora, as noted above, has been developed to supersede the three existing products serving that market.

Axiell's product integration strategy has focused on customer- facing interfaces, positioning Axiell Arena to be coupled with any of its management products, including those for library and archival collections. Arena not only serves as a discovery or search interface, but offers a wide range of features to provide information about and access to the organization's services so that it can function as its complete Web presence. For libraries that have both archives and traditional collections, Arena provides unified access to both types of materials. Axiell CultureNet, recently launched at the Roskilde Libraries in Denmark, exemplifies Arena's capacity to provide access to a blend of library and archival collections. Arena was initially created collaboratively by DS and Axiell prior to their merger.

Axiell Calm is used in about 400 archives and museums, primarily in the United Kingdom. The product was originally developed with DS beginning around 1995 and has become a strategic product of Axiell following the merger. In July 2011, the company launched a new subsidiary with responsibility for CALM and the archives and museum market. Malcolm Howitt serves as Managing Director of the Axiell CALM. The concept “MerÖppet”, Open Library or “24/7 Library” allows access to library facilities even after staff have gone home. Worldwide, about 80 Open libraries are in operation, and results have been positive.

ADLIB Information Services Corporate Background

Adlib is based in Utrecht, The Netherlands with offices in Berlin, Germany, and Swindon, United Kingdom, employing around 35 personnel. The company products are used in 1,600 organizations spanning 30 countries. Prior to its acquisition by Axiell, Adlib was privately owned by Bert Degenhart Drenth, company CEO, and Marijke van der Kwartel, its CFO.

ADLIB Information Systems has 1,600 clients in 30 countries. It offers automation systems, based on the same underlying technology, tailored for museums, libraries, and archives, packaged as Adlib Library, Adlib Museum, and Adlib Archive. Each can be used individually, or for organizations with multiple types of collections, one or both of the other products can be integrated together. The optional Adlib Internet Server provides Web access to the organization's collections.

As one of the veteran companies of the industry, Adlib has been involved with providing automation software to libraries, museums, and archives through many generations of technologies. ADLIB had originally created its products based on its proprietary database management system, which transformed from its original development on Primos minicomputers, to Unix and DOS, and to client-server technologies based on Microsoft Windows in the mid- 1990s. The days of proprietary databases have passed, with both open source and commercially licensed database technologies readily available. In October 2012, Adlib announced that it would discontinue use of its own CBF proprietary database in favor of databases from Microsoft or Oracle. For small installations, Microsoft SQL Server Express is included without cost; larger installations would need to license the supporting database technology that matches their requirements. Adlib is not alone in phasing out proprietary database. Innovative Interfaces, for example, had created its own proprietary database for its INNOPAC and Millennium ILS products, which has been replaced by PostgreSQL in Sierra.

Databasix originally focused on library automation with its ADLIB ILS. In 1996, the company launched ADMUSE, a version of the software for the management of museum collections. Over time the company has become well known in the museum and archives management arena, but it continues to have a strong presence in special libraries, which represents more than half of its revenue.

Axiell Expands a Strategic Market

Axiell Group continues to grow through the acquisition of companies, each of which expands not only its overall size, but also its reach into new geographic areas and product markets. With the acquisition of Adlib, Axiell enters markets in a more diverse set of countries. Adlib currently has customers in the United Kingdom, Australia, Asia, the Middle East, and the United States. It also amplifies its penetration into museum and archives.

Given Axiell Group's historic gentle pace in regard to the integration of its companies and product lines, we can expect little immediate disruption for the existing Adlib customers. As part of Axiell, Adlib gains access to the resources of a larger company and opportunities to expand its customer base beyond what it might be able to accomplish as a small company. In the longer term, with the combined resources of Axiell CALM and Adlib Information Systems, Axiell is positioned to become more of a dominating force in the realm of archives management. A vast number of libraries also have responsibility for archives, cultural collections, or other types of special collection. Axiell's expertise and products in both of these areas has the potential to open up new business opportunities.

Corporate Chronology

1978ADLIB (Adaptive Library Management and Information System) library automation system was developed to operate on Prime minicomputers under the Primos operating system by the Lipman Library Management Resources Limited of Maidenhead, England, later known as LMR Computer Services.
1985Lipman Library Management Resources merges with Databasix.
1986Databasix Computer Systems subsidiary launched in the Benelux, headed by Bert Degenhart Drenth. Carlton Communications acquires Databasix.
1991Bert Degenhart Drenth led a management buy-out of the company from Carlton Communications, which was named Databasix Information Systems after the transaction.
August 1998ADLIB Information Systems acquires SAILS (Swets Automated Independent Library System) from Swets & Zeitlinger. Swets, a major serials subscription service for libraries, had created a serials control module that it planned to offer as a full integrated library system in the mid-1980s. (See Library Systems Newsletter Vol. 4 No. 7, July 1984). SAILS was never completed as an integrated library system, but was used by many libraries as a stand-alone serials control system. ADLIB subsequently integrated the functionality of SAILS into the ADLIB serials module.
January 1999Databasix Information Systems renamed to ADLIB Information Systems, taking the name of its flagship product as its primary brand.
July 1999ADLIB Information Systems acquires ROTA and Ocelot automation system from Reekx, which were used in about 100 libraries.
March 1, 2013Axiell Group acquires ADLIB Information Systems.
2014Consolidation of ADLIB into Axiell Group planned
Publication Year:2013
Type of Material:Article
LanguageEnglish
Published in: Smart Libraries Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 33 Number 04
Issue:April 2013
Page(s):2-3
Publisher:ALA TechSource
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Company: Axiell
ISSN:1541-8820
Permalink: http://librarytechnology.org/ltg-displaytext.pl?RC=18073
Record Number:18073
Last Update:2014-06-05 14:14:36
Date Created:2013-06-22 14:12:43