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Library Systems Report 2018: New technologies enable an expanded vision of library services

American Libraries [May 1, 2018]

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Technologies that focus on supporting traditional library services no longer meet the needs of libraries that wish to strengthen their involvement in new service areas.

Academic libraries are looking beyond efficiencies in collection management or improvements in library-provided discovery services. Instead, they are addressing broader education needs by inserting relevant resources into platforms that support the curriculum and enhance their institutions' research activities. Public libraries seek technologies that improve engagement with their communities. These libraries value reliable and feature-rich automation systems, and they are especially drawn to those that help them deliver compelling digital services. Basic library resource management and discovery capabilities no longer differentiate competitors in this market of mature products.

Library services platforms (LSPs) have been in use for more than half a decade and are a proven solution with products that continue to mature and evolve. The move from legacy products to an LSP may provide new efficiencies for internal library operations, but current models extend deeper into the academic enterprise.

A plethora of integrated library systems (ILS) with long lineages pervades the industry. In many respects these products have not only matured in functionality but have also adapted to changing expectations. The ILS continues to be the dominant solution for public, school, and special libraries, though it faces formidable challenges from LSPs in the academic library sphere.

In 2017, many ILS vendors devoted considerable development efforts to web-based interfaces. Many have evolved from earlier client-server technologies with graphic interfaces installed on the computers of staff members or service desks. The age of client-server computing has passed, and the transition to web interfaces is long overdue. Libraries seek fully web-based products without compromising the rich functionality and efficiencies embodied in legacy platforms. It's unfortunate at this late phase of the cycle of cloud computing that development efforts are consumed in a lateral move toward new interfaces at the expense of innovations.

A year of gentle consolidation

Multiple business transitions have caused incremental changes in the overall industry. These events strengthened trends from previous years but did not represent disruptive change. This quiet year should not be taken as a sign that consolidation has run its course. Libraries should anticipate more active changes ahead.

The consolidation of the special library software sector continued with Lucidea's acquisition of Eloquent Systems, which focuses on technologies for corporate, legal, and other special libraries. Through a series of acquisitions, Lucidea accumulated a broad portfolio of products, including CuadraSTAR, Inmagic, LookUp Precision, LawPort, and Argus, all complementing their SydneyPLUS products. The ILS market for special libraries includes a variety of niche products that do not necessarily directly compete. By assembling this group of products, Lucidea can address almost all aspects of this market and preserve the brands of the incumbent companies.

OCLC significantly strengthened its position on resource sharing by creating new products and services and acquiring new business. In addition to its already dominant position as a centralized interlibrary loan (ILL) service provided through WorldShare ILL, OCLC expanded into consortial resource sharing with its January 2017 acquisition of Ottawa-based Relais International. This acquisition placed OCLC in the dominant position in both areas.

In the international sector, Axiell Group solidified its position with the Elib ebook distribution platform by gaining full ownership, acquiring the interests of a consortium of publishers that had helped establish the business. The company has divested its stake in Bibliotheca. In August 2017, Axiell acquired ATP Automation Ltd Oy, a Finnish company specializing in products for materials handling and logistics. Prior to its acquisition, ATP was a business partner with Axiell for 10 years. Through an ongoing series of business transactions, Axiell has expanded its offerings and strengthened its position as a global competitor in library management, material handling, and digital media.

System services provider Civica changed ownership through its acquisition by Partners Group from OMERS Private Equity in a deal valued at more than $1 billion.

Publishers and workflow technologies

Consistent with the trend of content companies becoming more involved in technology platforms and tools, Elsevier acquired Bepress in August 2017. Bepress offers Digital Commons, a commercial institutional repository platform in a field dominated by open source products. Elsevier also acquired altmetrics company Plum Analytics from EBSCO Information Services in February 2017. These transactions continue Elsevier's recent moves to position itself as an analytics and workflow company and not just a publisher of scholarly content. Also exemplifying this trend is Clarivate Analytics' acquisition in June 2017 of the Publons service that assists researchers in tracking and showcasing peer review activities.

OCLC expands resource sharing

Marking its 50th year, OCLC continues as a catalyst for cooperation among libraries supported by a wide array of technology platforms and member services. From the original 54 libraries in Ohio, OCLC membership now totals more than 16,000 libraries in 120 countries. OCLC operates as a nonprofit organization with multiple layers of governance, including global and regional councils and an executive leadership team.

In addition to its acquisition of Relais International, OCLC introduced products to strengthen its resource-sharing services to libraries. Tipasa, an ILL management utility, was introduced by OCLC in January 2017 after development that began in March 2016. It addresses the functionality of ILLiad, a Windows-based ILL utility. ILLiad was developed by Atlas Systems, a spin-off developed by Virginia Tech University and exclusively distributed by OCLC since 2000. Tipasa, now in use by 163 libraries, has automated borrowing and lending activities across multiple resource-sharing services through a web-based interface. It represents an effort not only to modernize the technology of ILLiad but also to integrate this critical area of ILL management onto its strategic platform.

OCLC launched Syndeo in February as a new suite of services based on the WorldShare Platform to support national and regional collaborative catalogs and resource sharing. Some capabilities provided through Syndeo include support for specialized authority vocabularies and copy cataloging workflows that may differ from those in the global WorldCat framework. Syndeo addresses national catalog projects such as that for Library and Archives Canada, which has engaged with OCLC for deployment via WorldCat and need specialized support.

Academic libraries

In previous cycles of technology development, index-based discovery services and LSPs emerged to support access, discovery, and management of complex, multiformat collections. Discovery services such as Primo and Summon from ProQuest, OCLC's WorldCat Discovery Service, and EBSCO Discovery Service have become well established. Most academic libraries have invested in one of these broad-based search tools. Discovery of library-provided resources remains a complex issue with many unfulfilled expectations. Most institutions are using an index-based discovery service, but many challenges remain in improving discoverability in other contexts, especially through general search engines. LSPs have seen widespread adoption, enabling academic and research libraries to manage print and electronic collections through a sophisticated set of interrelated task workflows. Ex Libris's Alma currently dominates LSPs, with OCLC's WorldShare Management Services (WMS) holding a strong secondary position. FOLIO remains in the wings poised to join—or even disrupt—the competition once a functional product has been delivered.

LSPs are now the mainstream approach for supporting resource management and daily operations of academic libraries. These products have not yet become ubiquitous, though they continue to dominate in new procurement scenarios. A significant proportion of academic libraries rely on longstanding ILS implementations. A large portion of these libraries are engaged in selection processes that will culminate in the continuing decline of the ILS in this sector.

The advent of the open source FOLIO initiative has drawn the attention of many academic libraries concerned with the narrow slate of commercial choices and interested in exploring alternatives. At least some of these libraries have deferred decisions to move from their legacy ILS to one of the established LSPs until it becomes evident whether FOLIO can offer a competitive alternative.

Ex Libris, owned by ProQuest since December 2015, continues as the dominant technology provider for academic libraries. It is pressing forward to create new products to support library involvement with the broader institution. ProQuest ranks as one of the largest companies offering library products and services. The company has a complex ownership structure: Cambridge Information Group holds the controlling shares; Goldman Sachs has also made significant investments.

Matti Shem-Tov, president and CEO of Ex Libris since 2003, was appointed the top executive for ProQuest in November 2017, succeeding Kurt Sanford, who had led the company since July 2011. Shem-Tov has seen Ex Libris through four ownership arrangements, culminating in its acquisition by ProQuest. With Shem-Tov at the helm, Bar Veinstein advances to the position of president of Ex Libris from his former role as executive vice president of resource management.

Ex Libris's Alma LSP has gained a substantial installed base five years beyond its first use at Boston College, with Carnegie Mellon University as its 1,000th customer. Forty-five members of the Association of Research Libraries have selected Alma. Migrations to Alma this year came mostly from those using its Aleph (117 libraries) and Voyager (18) ILS products, though it captured academics using ILS products from competing companies, including Symphony (19), Library.Solution (12), Millennium (10), and Sierra (5). Most Alma deals come packaged with its Primo discovery service, though beginning in 2017 Summon has become a supported option. Ex Libris also supports open source discovery interfaces such as VuFind and Blacklight. No business agreement has been reached to enable EBSCO Discovery Service to fully interoperate with Alma.

Ex Libris faces immediate competition from OCLC's WMS and potential disruption by FOLIO, but since 2012 it has seen increasing adoptions of Alma. The service is an immediately available option for academic libraries that want to replace aging legacy systems and invest in new areas of strategic interest to their institutions. Although Alma has matured through about seven years of development, Ex Libris continues to enhance it with features consistent with its own development agenda and through recommendations from libraries using the product. New versions are deployed monthly.

Ex Libris intends to include BIBFRAME in the development agenda for Alma. Support for BIBFRAME will be phased in, enabling libraries using Alma to transition gradually to the new metadata framework without disrupting their existing workflows based on MARC or Dublin Core.

Throughout its corporate history, Ex Libris has expanded its business by creating products in nontraditional categories. Its commercialization of SFX in 1999, for example, launched the genre of OpenURL-based link resolvers. The company moved into digital preservation with Rosetta in 2009. Its Leganto reading list management application, launched in 2015, has been implemented in 45 institutions as of February. CampusM, acquired in April 2015, provides a mobile-oriented content delivery platform for the broader campus and has been implemented in 81 institutions, including 50 in the UK.

Responding to the need for universities to better manage, assess, and showcase their research programs, Ex Libris launched its new research services platform, Esploro, in February. Developed in partnership with five major universities in the US and UK, Esploro will create a new set of services based on the Alma platform in support of such research activities as tracking research publications, funding opportunities, and creating researcher profiles, and will provide reports and analytics. Esploro addresses three key stakeholders within the university: individual researchers, the institutional research office responsible for administration and compliance of funded projects, and librarians providing research support. Esploro taps into other ProQuest assets, such as Pivot, a comprehensive repository of funding opportunities available to researchers.

OCLC's WMS is another highly competitive LSP. Although its level of adoption ranks below that of Alma, WMS supports a comprehensive set of workflows for print and electronic resources through web-based interfaces and a multitenant platform. Midsized academic libraries represent the largest number of implementations, though some very large and complex organizations also selected WMS in 2017. Following the 2017 launch of Voilà, a new national union catalog for Canada, Library and Archives Canada will transition from its locally developed AMICUS ILS to WMS.

In 2017, OCLC launched Digby, a new mobile app for WMS, supporting staff activities performed away from service desks, such as retrieving lists of requested items from the stacks and reshelving materials.

OCLC continues to support and enhance the CONTENTdm digital asset management platform. The product is currently used in more than 2,500 institutions. Major enhancements include redesigned interfaces and internal technologies. CONTENTdm now supports International Image Interoperability Framework–defined image and presentation APIs, enabling digital images to be accessed through a variety of external tools and platforms.

EBSCO Information Services ranks as one of the largest organizations providing content and technology products. It operates as the largest subsidiary of EBSCO Industries, a holding company with a diverse range of business activities. EBSCO is owned by the Stephens family, who founded the company and controls its board of directors. Tim Collins, long-standing president of EBSCO Information Services, has also served as chief executive officer of EBSCO Industries since July 2014. Last year that role was assumed by David Walker, with Collins now focusing on the leadership of EBSCO Information Services.

On the content front, EBSCOhost databases span many disciplines and involve high-quality subject indexing performed by experts and supplemented by technical processes. EBSCO continues to be one of the few remaining serials subscription agents. In addition to brokering serials for libraries, EBSCO offers GOBI as a tool for ordering books.

Among its technology products, deployed through software as a service, is EBSCO Discovery Service, which has been implemented by more libraries than any competing index-based discovery service. In recent years, EBSCO has reworked its products for managing and linking to electronic resources into Full Text Finder, which includes a comprehensive knowledge base of e-resources and holdings as well as an interface for users to gain access to their library's subscribed resources.

EBSCO has helped launch the FOLIO project to develop an open source LSP, in addition to the content and technology products it offers directly. The company has made major investments to fund the project and has provided direct and indirect support for its design and development.

The FOLIO project offers a fresh idea in library resource management, with a modular approach to functionality implemented through microservices architecture. EBSCO has provided funding and direction to Index Data, an open source development firm, to create its core infrastructure. Index Data championed the project throughout the library community, familiar with its work as a major developer of open source technology components used within a variety of environments.

EBSCO envisions FOLIO as a technology framework that will disrupt the current market of LSPs that are tightly bundled with their own discovery services. These bundled offerings result in a competitive environment that disadvantages EBSCO Discovery Service, despite its efforts to integrate with all the major ILSes. FOLIO's modular design will accommodate any discovery product and EBSCO will naturally ensure that its own products are integrated.

While FOLIO generally aligns with its product strategies, EBSCO will not exert direct control over the project. The governance of the FOLIO project is shared among multiple stakeholders, including the Open Library Environment, an expanding array of organizations participating in its development; libraries that lend resources to the project; and EBSCO, which has made the most substantial financial investments. The Open Library Foundation is the official entity that holds the copyrights associated with the software and handles other legal and administrative activities.

The FOLIO project has been in development for about two years. If current timelines prevail, libraries will begin using it by late 2018 or in 2019. Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden has stepped forward as a pilot site for its services.

This year has seen significant expansion for the project. Ten organizations are involved in its development, including Index Data, EBSCO, Stacks, Qulto, and Frontside Software. Libraries participate in FOLIO through software development and by providing experts to help with functional requirements, testing and quality assurance, and education and promotion.

An initial version of FOLIO capable of providing basic library automation has not been released. To date, no libraries have implemented FOLIO, so there are no statistics to report and its economic impact remains difficult to assess. The libraries committed to the project mean lost opportunities for proprietary LSPs.

TIND offers a suite of products based on technology developed at the CERN research facility in Switzerland. Although a startup with less than a dozen employees, it is establishing itself both in the US and internationally.

The company made a high-profile entry into the US market when Caltech libraries selected TIND ILS. This year Caltech became the first organization to implement the TIND RDM as a research data repository. The Caltech Data Repository enables any researcher to submit data sets for preservation.

This year the UC Berkeley Law Library selected the TIND ILS and will enhance its serials and acquisitions modules. Millersville (Pa.) University migrated to TIND Digital Asset Management from CONTENTdm.

ILS companies

SirsiDynix and Innovative Interfaces are the two largest companies competing in the ILS arena that have not been absorbed by one of the top-level industry players. Both tried to transform their long-standing successful but aging ILS products into platforms based on modern architectures that can support libraries across multiple sectors. SirsiDynix and Innovative both have academic libraries as a large percentage of their customer base and face challenges defending themselves against companies such as Ex Libris that offer ever-expanding products and services designed specifically for academia.

For the last five years SirsiDynix has worked to complete its BLUEcloud suite. The company's two flagship ILS products Symphony and Horizon, though stable and rich in features, are based on aging internal architectures and use graphical staff clients that must be installed on computers throughout the library to access backend features. The BLUEcloud suite features web-based interfaces, delivered through a multitenant platform, that can work with either of its ILS products.

The development of BLUEcloud has taken many years. It will ultimately enable the company to offer a fully web-based environment without the need for local staff clients. The project faces challenges to deliver the advanced functionality seen in the graphical staff clients through a web-based interface. Until each BLUEcloud module reaches that sophistication, libraries can continue to use the graphical clients or have a mixed environment. For the modules replicating similar functionality, libraries can use the BLUEcloud versions without additional cost beyond their standard maintenance fees. BLUEcloud modules providing new capabilities are offered as added cost options. SirsiDynix reports that more than 2,000 of its customers have adopted at least one of the BLUEcloud modules.

This year SirsiDynix introduced BLUEcloud Mobile, an app designed for library users to discover and access library resources. BLUEcloud Mobile supersedes the company's previous mobile apps, such as BookMyne. BLUEcloud Mobile followed an accelerated development timeline. Announced in March 2017, its initial version was delivered by the fourth quarter of the year. This product has been well received, with more sales in its initial year than any of its other products. Enhancements to BLUEcloud Mobile planned for 2018 include the capabilities to work with non-SirsiDynix ILS products.

SirsiDynix attributes the rapid development to its comprehensive APIs and web services architecture inherent in the BLUEcloud platform. The company states that investments it has made in supporting this integration layer will enable speedy development of future modules and apps.

Work continues on BLUEcloud Acquisitions, developed in partnership with the South Australian Public Library Network. The module is currently running as a live pilot and is expected to be made available to all customers this year. SirsiDynix also continues development of BLUEcloud eResource Management, based on the code of the open source Coral platform.

In a separate development effort, SirsiDynix has created SymphonyWeb as a web-based version of its Symphony ILS. The company's long-term strategic direction continues to be based on BLUEcloud, but it also needs to support clients who need a fully web-based ILS. SymphonyWeb uses web interfaces that directly interact with a Symphony server making use of proprietary mechanisms rather than operating through the more open web services layer.

SirsiDynix signed 90 new contracts for Symphony in 2017 (down from 143 reported in 2016) and added 10 libraries to Horizon. Twenty-eight libraries selected its EOS.Web ILS.

Innovative Interfaces, marking its 40th year in business, has developed multiple generations of ILS products and has cultivated a large customer base in almost all regions of the world. On the ILS front, the company offers two flagship products: Sierra, the latest generation of its internally developed system, and Polaris, which it acquired in 2014. Sierra has been implemented by libraries of all types in many countries. Polaris was designed specifically for public libraries and has not been implemented outside the United States and Canada. Innovative also continues to support Millennium, the predecessor to Sierra, though its implementations continue to decline as libraries upgrade or shift to other products. The company has developed Encore as its strategic discovery interface. Encore Duet combines this discovery interface with the article-level index of EBSCO Discovery Service for mutual customers of those products. Innovative Resource Sharing, formerly INN-Reach and ArticleReach, supports consortial borrowing among libraries using different ILS products. The VITAL digital asset management system, based on Fedora, was acquired from VTLS and continues to be developed and supported. Virtua, the ILS acquired from VTLS, is no longer being actively marketed and developed.

Product development activities carried out in 2017 include enhancements to Sierra to improve scalability that allows it to serve large organizations. An expanded set of APIs was created to address additional patron and accounting transactions.

Polaris was originally developed with Windows-based staff clients. In recent years, a new set of web-based staff applications has been developed to form the Polaris Web Application, formerly branded as Leap. It was enhanced in 2017 to operate in multiple languages, support Unicode, and follow a responsive design. New APIs have been implemented for Innovative Resource Sharing to enable interoperability with ILS products outside of Innovative's own offerings without the need for the cumbersome direct consortial borrowing transaction broker.

Innovative announced an initiative to develop a new platform based on native linked data architecture to support a new set of technology products and services. Dubbed the Context Engine, this platform transforms existing MARC formats into linked data, integrating external data sources into its internal repositories and allowing the library to deliver experiences to its users based on their research interests or demographic characteristics. Innovative reports that it has completed a proof of concept for the Context Engine, and it plans to release a context-based discovery service in 2018 as well as a discovery-based analytics service.

Innovative is owned by investment firms HGGC and JMI Equity Partners. James Tallman has been its CEO since January 2016. Innovative recently appointed three new executives: Kathryn Harnish as senior vice president for product strategy, Amy Hayes as senior vice president for marketing, and Tom Jacobson, a veteran of the company, returned as vice president, executive library advocate and strategist.

The Library Corporation (TLC) provides automation products and bibliographical services for public and school libraries. Its Library.Solution finds use primarily in midsized public libraries and school districts. This year saw the selection of Library.Solution by two major school districts in Texas. Now in its version 5.0 release, Library.Solution continues to see substantial ongoing development. The LS2 Cataloging Module enables a wide range of staff members who process materials, including those without extensive cataloging skills, to quickly and accurately describe library materials.

CARL•X, designed for larger libraries, has seen a surge of interest, with selections by two major organizations: Somerset County (N.J.) Library System and the Library Network, a consortium of 75 libraries in southeast Michigan.

In addition to its ILS products, TLC has also introduced its SmartTECH line of products, which provides materials for hands-on STEM learning experiences.

Auto-Graphics, the only publicly traded company in the industry, offers both the VERSO ILS and the SHAREit resource-sharing and ILL platform. Both products target public libraries. The company strives to increase the reach of VERSO to larger public libraries and to position SHAREit as a platform able to work with all major ILS products through established standards and protocols. Small and midsized libraries have been the target audience for VERSO, but the product is also used by larger libraries. Auto-Graphics has enhanced VERSO with features of interest to multibranch public libraries. VERSO was selected by 23 libraries in 2017, increasing total installations to 525. In May 2017 the company released a Library Mobile for VERSO mobile app.

This year SHAREit was selected by the Vermont Department of Libraries to provide wider access of materials to 549 libraries. The product has been implemented for ILL and resource sharing in 14 states.

Public libraries

BiblioCommons specializes in patron interfaces for public libraries. BiblioCore is its discovery service that extends the conventional relevancy-based search and faceted navigation to include such social features as the creation and sharing of resource lists. BiblioWeb serves as a comprehensive portal for a public library, standing in for its entire website. BiblioCommons stands out as the only commercial interface able to displace the built-in catalogs of major ILS products. In 2017, the company reworked the search facility of BiblioCore for faster and smoother performance. BiblioWeb improved compliance to accessibility standards and refined usability. About a dozen libraries implemented BiblioCore or BiblioWeb in 2017.

BiblioCommons reported a total workforce of 69 in 2017, with 54 allocated to development, a much higher proportion than any other company.

Open source ILS

ByWater Solutions offers commercial support services to libraries using open source products. The company has become the leading provider in the US for services surrounding the open source Koha ILS. The company works primarily with public and academic libraries, but it also includes school and special libraries among its clientele.

The company reached an important threshold when it was selected by the libraries of Virginia Tech University to support their migration from Sierra to the Koha ILS and Coral electronic resource management system. It entered a partnership with EBSCO Information Services to provide support for the open source FOLIO LSP. The partnership will be based on hosting infrastructure EBSCO and ByWater Solutions delivering customer support services.

ByWater has attracted libraries using major ILS products to Koha, including those using Symphony (13 libraries), Library.Solution (6), Millennium (6), Sierra (3), WorldShare Management Services (1), and the open source Evergreen ILS (3). With comprehensive support services from ByWater Solutions, libraries can move to an open source ILS with no more internal technical expertise required for a proprietary product.

The Equinox Open Library Initiative, operating as a nonprofit corporation, provides services for libraries using open source technologies, including the Evergreen ILS for consortia; Koha, which it supports for standalone libraries; and FulfILLment, a resource-sharing environment. Equinox has developed Sequoia, a multitenant environment for hosting deployments of open source applications with high reliability and stability, with tools for deployment, monitoring, and other advanced capabilities required by a high-capacity data center.

In addition to hosting and support services, Equinox remains deeply involved in the ongoing development of Evergreen. The organization retains some of the original developers of the software created for the PINES consortium in Georgia. In 2017 efforts were concentrated on developing web-based staff interfaces able to replace the previous clients, which needed to be installed on local computers. With this work complete, Equinox commenced migrating its customers to the new clients in 2017 and will continue the process through 2018.

School and small libraries

Follett School Solutions operates as a business unit of Follett Corporation, one of the largest organizations offering library products and services. This division employs 1,482 people, with 169 involved in software development.

Library software represents a relatively small portion of Follett's overall business activities. The broader organization also operates college bookstores, distributes educational materials, and provides training across multiple practical professions. Baker & Taylor, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Follett, contributes around $1 billion to the company annually through global sales to libraries and retail outlets. The company is privately owned by the Follett family, with estimated revenues of more than $3 billion.

The Destiny library management system, though a relatively small portion of the company's business activities, ranks as the dominant product in pre-K–12 libraries in the United States.

Biblionix has developed its web-based Apollo ILS primarily for small public libraries, though the company continues to reach into the midsized league. Now in its 11th year, the company remains privately owned and profitable. In 2017, 56 new libraries subscribed to Apollo, increasing the total installations to 664. In recent years Apollo has attracted libraries previously operating larger ILS products, including Polaris (5 libraries), Library.Solution (3), Symphony (3), Sierra (2), and Millennium (1) in addition to those moving from other products oriented to small libraries. Apollo improved its catalog search results, fine collection, and catalog display status this year.

Book Systems' Atriuum ILS is mostly used by small public and K–12 school libraries. The company continues to offer Concourse, a legacy product which has not seen significant decline in use, with 9,933 installations continuing in 2017.

The company made multiple enhancements to Atriuum this year, including integration of content from ProQuest Syndetics for its OPAC Snapshot Unbound module, which is deployed through a mobile friendly responsive design. Book Systems offers a mobile app to collect payments using services such as Square, PayPal, and ProPay. The Librista patron-facing app includes new search capabilities, access to community events, and personal account management. Librista can be easily connected to any library using Atriuum. Additional interoperability capabilities were developed this year, including single sign-in using Google, resource sharing with OCLC WMS using NISO Circulation Interchange Protocol, additional integrations with ebook lending platforms from Hoopla and Bibliotheca's cloudLibrary, and an extension of its capabilities with OverDrive.

Mandarin Library Automation specializes in technology products for small libraries, including K–12 schools, public libraries, colleges, and other organizations. Its current product, Mandarin M5, is a web-based application available for installation on local computers or as a hosted service. The previous product, Mandarin M3, remains in use and continues to see new installations. This year the company focused on the development of a new reports module for Mandarin M5. The module will be delivered with a variety of standard reports. Customized reports can be created by the company's support personnel, which are then available for use by the library.

COMPanion Corporation offers the Alexandria ILS, primarily used by K–12 schools and other small libraries. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of Alexandria. The company has recently developed the capability for integration between Alexandria or Textbook Tracker, and a school or district student information system through a partnership with Clever.

Libraries purchasing Alexandria are entitled to all future software enhancements without additional cost beyond standard support fees. New updates are issued monthly. COMPanion has invested in cloud hosting capabilities that enable libraries to use the product with lower technical overhead.

Alexandria is the second-largest provider of library software to the K–12 school market in the US, with installations in more than 14,000 individual libraries. COMPanion is a privately-owned company. Although it does not comment on specific revenue or profit statistics, it reports that it operates with adequate cash flow and working capital to sustain its business, and has little or no debt obligations.

LibraryWorld serves small libraries with limited budgets, offering a fully web-based library automation system available at an affordable price. The company did not report statistics on new adoptions this year, but the total number of installations stands at 3,373. Developments in 2017 include incorporating support for the Z39.50 standard, allowing libraries to make their collections available to resource sharing environments or other applications using this protocol. All libraries using LibraryWorld enjoy access to new capabilities without additional cost beyond established subscription fees.

Special libraries

Keystone Systems has traditionally specialized in the relatively small niche of libraries serving individuals with visual disabilities with its KLAS integrated library system. These libraries typically fulfill much of the resources requested by their users through mail and other delivery services. This year, Keystone expanded with new library software modules geared toward serving professional associations. Features addressed in this package include personalized member profiles, user-contributed content, browsing based on interest categories, and integration with the core management systems used by the association. A small, privately-owned company, Keystone has 16 employees, a slight increase from 2016.

Lucidea specializes in technologies for corporate, legal, and special libraries and has accumulated a broad portfolio of products through the acquisition of other companies also involved in this arena. Besides making new business acquisitions, Lucidea continues to enhance each of its products. In 2017, the company established Lucidea Press, a publishing division offering professional development resources geared toward librarians and knowledge management professionals.

Soutron Global focuses on products for corporate, legal, and other special libraries. The company continues to enhance the Soutron ILS. Acquisitions and serials modules were developed for the product in 2017, featuring a new user interface that allows simpler data entry and processing workflows. The company also modernized the technical architecture. Remaining with the Microsoft technology stack, it replaced existing .Net routines with equivalent .Net Core components.

The company saw an uptick in interest in its Archival product in 2017, both by existing clients adding this capability to their implementations and by new customers. Soutron has also expanded its customer base to include many organizations with nontraditional library collections. The company notes a trend of organizations consolidating data from multiple legacy implementations into single unified environments.

The international scene

Although the library technology industry includes quite a few global companies, many remain active only within a given country or region. A full understanding of the industry requires consideration of companies and products not well known in the US. Considerable innovation can be seen in these organizations, and future phases of business may bring them to new geographic markets.

Axiell has entered a phase of ambitious product development through the introduction of an LSP for public libraries and a web-based product for schools. Although the company lacks a major presence in libraries in the US and Canada, it ranks as one of the larger library technology companies globally, with a workforce of 305—a number that has increased annually since 2009.

As one of the major providers for public libraries, museums, and archives in other countries, Axiell holds an important position in the global industry. Its library products are dominant in Scandinavian countries and serve a small but significant percentage of libraries in the UK. Ann Melaerts, previously leading the library business for INFOR, joined Axiell in August 2017 as vice president and business area director for its public libraries division.

Its current profile was established through a series of mergers of companies providing library automation throughout Scandinavia and the UK in the early to mid-2000s. Following its initial period of consolidation, Axiell continued to support the full range of products created by the organizations it subsumed. Only in recent years has the company begun to phase them out. Libraries using Origo, Libra, and PallasPro are encouraged to adopt its other actively developed and supported products. This move will narrow the previous glut of products to a single supported offering per country.

Axiell has introduced WeLib, a web-based library management system for schools. Initially created for school libraries in Sweden, Axiell plans to market it in other countries in 2018. WeLib has been implemented in about one quarter of school libraries in Sweden.

Besides its involvement with maintaining its traditional ILS product line, Axiell has launched Quria, an ambitious project to create an LSP for public libraries. This product embraces the key technical and functional characteristics of the genre, but designed for public libraries. Quria has been deployed on a web-native multitenant platform, focusing initially on management and delivery of digital content but also including the traditional features needed for print collections. Following the successful completion of its initial version, Quria has been implemented in the Drammen Public Library in Norway. Northamptonshire libraries have opted to partner with Axiell as a pilot site for the first implementation of Quria in the UK.

In a public library technology arena dominated by long-standing ILS products, Quria represents a unique position as an LSP developed with a fresh look at digital-first expectations deployed through contemporary architectures and components. Quria will not only provide an eventual migration option for libraries using legacy ILS products, but may also provide Axiell an opportunity to enter additional geographic markets.

Civica specializes in providing software and business process outsourcing to a wide range of government agencies and departments. Responsibility for the Spydus ILS falls within the company's libraries and education business and represents a tiny portion of Civica's total business activity. Spydus has seen a long evolution spanning three decades. Civica's library products have been implemented in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, and the UK, with a small presence in the US and Canada. Several libraries in Australia selected Spydus, many of which moved from Amlib systems which are no longer fully supported by OCLC. In early 2018 the company was reselected by the National Library Board of Singapore following a comprehensive search. In addition to new contracts, some of its existing consortia expended to include more libraries, both in the UK and Australia.

In 2017, Spydus focused on the development of Version 11, completing the long-standing process of transition to all web-based interfaces with the reports as the final module to be transitioned. With a fully web-based system, libraries will no longer have to manage client software on local computers, significantly reducing operational overhead. Future development will focus on addressing new areas of functionality.

Infor Library and Information Solutions is a small business unit of Infor, a large software and services firm involved in a wide range of business sectors. Its library business employs 65 people. Intended primarily for public libraries, Infor offers the V-smart ILS as its flagship product. Vubis Smart, the previous version, also remains in use. A specialized version of the product, V@ school, serves school libraries. Infor also offers Iguana, a comprehensive portal for libraries, which can be deployed to replace a library's entire website. This year Infor began a major rewrite of Iguana, with will be released as Version 5. Iguana DAM was recently released to provide a digital asset management solution for libraries.

In 2017, the company's product suite updated all web-based interfaces with a responsive design and enhancements to meet requirements for accessibility. New APIs have been implemented across each product to enable greater openness and interoperability with external applications. V-smart has been enhanced to support BIBFRAME for bibliographic metadata. Ebook lending has been streamlined through the integration with OverDrive.

This year saw a major leadership change, with the departure of Melaerts and the appointment of Jean-François Piat, formerly responsible for the company's library activities in France.

Capita Libraries is a business unit within a large company that provides technology and outsourcing to a variety of local government services. The company's ILS, Alto, branded as Soprano, is offered exclusively in the UK. New clients included Black Country Libraries, including library services in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, and Wolverhampton. Capita reported 30 people employed by its library division.

PTFS Europe provides support services for open source software applications, primarily the Koha ILS and the Coral electronic resource management system. The company also distributes the Knowvation digital asset management system produced by PTFS, the US company with which PTFS Europe is loosely associated.

The company saw a significant spike in new support contracts in 2017, with 30 libraries selecting Koha based on its services. Many of these contracts were from major universities or government agencies migrating from mainline proprietary products. PTFS Europe, in partnership with Interleaf Technology, was awarded a major contract to provide Koha, Coral, and rebus:list to the 13 Institutes of Technology in Ireland, and is a framework agreement that makes the product suite potentially available to all academic institutions in Ireland.

This year PTFS Europe divested its rebus:list reading list management solution to Kortext and the UK Copyright Licensing Agency. These organizations plan significant enhancements to the product. This divestment also enables PTFS Europe to focus more resources on its support services. Interest in reading list management systems emerged early in the UK. Rebus:list, launched by PTFS in 2012, represented an alternative to Talis Aspire, which since its release in 2009 has dominated this niche. Ex Libris joined the competition in this product genre in 2015 with its launch of Leganto.

Baratz, based in Madrid, provides its AbsysNet ILS to libraries in Spain, France, and Latin America. In 2017, its development efforts focused on adapting its web-based interfaces to a responsive design in support of all screen sizes and devices. In addition to ongoing enhancements to the current version of AbsysNet, Baratz continues the development of a new-generation version, embodying new architectures and technology components. Both the current and next generation of AbsysNet have been empowered with a rich set of APIs to enable connection with external resources and systems. The company has grown its workforce to 80 employees, an increase from 76 in 2016.

Though not active in the US, Prima is well established as a provider of technology products to libraries in Brazil, with a growing international footprint. The company has more than 100 installations in Spain and is expanding into other countries in Latin America.

Prima offers two major ILSes—SophiA for all types of larger libraries and Philos for school libraries—and has recently developed web-based versions of both products. The company now emphasizes its software as a service offering and is working to migrate its clients using the legacy client software to the hosted web-based version. Prima also developed a data mining tool, able to work with a data warehouse populated by data from the library's ILS to reveal statistical trends and indicators relating to collection development, circulation of materials, patron activity, and online catalog use patterns. The interface, delivered through an HTML5 application, allows a librarian to examine data in a variety of ways, applying filters, producing exportable graphs or tables, and selecting views by an individual library facility or an entire system or consortium.

Prima recently integrated a variety of external services, including EBSCO Discovery Service, the ODILO ebook lending platform, and content providers such as Elsevier and Pearson, as well as Brazilian publishers and digital services.

Sales leaders and trends

Companies saw continued momentum in the LSP arena in 2017, especially with academic libraries moving away from ILS products in favor of the broader scope of management options available with LSPs. ILSes continue to reign as the dominant solution for public libraries.

Ex Libris enjoyed robust sales across different products. Alma had its strongest sales year ever in 2017—166 contracts representing 266 libraries, with 1,095 total libraries using or installing the product. The company supplements sales of its flagship LSP with sales of Primo (126), 360 Link (54), SFX (33), Aleph (6), Rosetta (3), and 360 Resource Manager (1). The Leganto list manager saw 37 new sales.

OCLC inked 52 new contracts spanning 54 libraries for WMS, resulting in an installed base of 521 libraries. It also continues to support legacy ILS products, mostly in Europe, for ongoing revenue. OCLC's resource sharing products, such as Tipasa, represent further opportunities for business.

SirsiDynix led in ILS sales with 90 contracts. Down significantly from 142 contracts in 2016, the company's 2017 numbers are still impressive in a year of depressed sales among traditional ILS products. SirsiDynix saw strong sales of premium BLUEcloud modules: Enterprise (89), Analytics (51), MobileCirc (33), eResource Central (30), Portfolio (24), and Visibility (20). EOS.Web had 28 new contracts with 1,078 total installations. Total installations of Symphony stand at 2,551.

Innovative reported 31 new contracts for Sierra (61 libraries, 931 total installations). Polaris continues to be marketed, but had only two new sales (26 libraries, 557 cumulative installations).

In the small public library arena, Biblionix made 56 new sales for Apollo, increasing installations to 664. While these numbers are impressive, they represent a lower level of revenue relative to companies dealing with larger libraries.

In the open source arena, ByWater Solutions signed 47 service contracts for Koha and increased its overall base to 996 libraries—down from the 70 new contracts the company signed in 2016, but still a strong showing in a year of high ILS turnover.

Note: The Library Systems Report 2018 documents on­going investments of libraries in strategic technology products made in 2017. It covers organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit, offering strategic resource management products—especially integrated library systems and library services platforms—and comprehensive discovery products. The vendors included have responded to a survey requesting details about their organization, sales performance, and narrative explanations of accomplishments. Additional sources consulted include press releases, news articles, and other publicly available information. Most of the organizations provided lists of libraries represented in the statistics reported, allowing for more detailed analysis and validation. Product listings in the vendor directory are not comprehensive. A vendor directory and charts with statistics on sales trends and installations are available here.

Marshall BreedingMARSHALL BREEDING is an independent consultant, speaker, and author. He writes and edits the website Library Technology Guides.

View Citation
Publication Year:2018
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: American Libraries
Issue:May 1, 2018
Publisher:American Library Association
Series: Library Systems Report
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Online access:
Record Number:23441
Last Update:2024-06-19 19:54:23
Date Created:2018-05-02 09:19:25