Library Systems Report 2014

Tuesday, 13 May 2014
Source: 
American Libraries

The library technology industry saw sharp competition in 2013, with a wide range of products vying to fulfill ever-rising expectations. To better position themselves for this critical period during which many libraries are considering options for their next phase of technology, a significant number of major vendors worked to extend their global reach, streamline internal organizations, and complete ambitious product developments. Competition has intensified for the applications used by library personnel to manage the collections and automate their operations, including the new generation of library services platforms as well as enhanced integrated library systems. Discovery services continue as a major area of activity, seen by libraries as especially critical given their intimate connections with customers, serving as one of the main delivery vehicles for access to collections and services.

This phase of the industry offers many choices, including both proprietary and open source license options, some based on cloud technologies and others that continue to rely on local hardware. Though a new generation of library services platforms has entered a phase of early adoption, the integrated library system remains viable, especially when extended to manage ebooks.

New products have entered the adoption cycle. These early implementations have the potential to reshape the future landscape depending on whether they achieve the efficiencies and transformations promised. For libraries considering their next systems, each of the players have options, with some more proven and others yet to be tested. Latecomers in the development and implementation phase will miss opportunities, mitigated only by the slow pace of library selection processes.

This report describes the current status and trends related to the strategic technology products and services and the organizations that create and support them. It covers the major resource management products, discovery services, and other technologies on which libraries rely internally and make available to their customers for access to their collections and services.

State of the industry

The global library technology industry continues to see modest but uneven growth. Companies that operate within a distinct geographic region and a narrow range of products have limited opportunities relative to those with international reach and diverse offerings. Companies that are able to develop compelling new products and services that meet current needs, anticipate ongoing trends, are able to support multiple language scripts, and accommodate differing operational practices seen in a variety of global regions will find new clients at the expense of local incumbents not able to revitalize their legacy products.

The transition to cloud computing provides a significant increment of industrywide growth. A software-as-a-service (SaaS) economy model trades higher upfront costs, incurred by libraries for equipment and software licenses, for a comprehensive annual subscription fee. Leveraging economies of scale, SaaS providers have the potential to enable savings for libraries over  time compared with direct and indirect costs of maintaining local servers and related infrastructure. Newer products such as Ex Libris Alma, OCLC WorldShare Management Services, and all the Web-scale discovery services come only via SaaS. Even for server-based integrated library systems, libraries increasingly opt for hosted options as they acquire new products, instead of replacing outdated equipment underlying existing installations.

Large-scale projects involving shared automation infrastructure for libraries throughout a region, state, or country result in winner-take-all scenarios that can be lucrative for the company with the selected product, often displacing multiple incumbent providers. This trend toward shared infrastructure, the increased growth of existing consortia, amalgamation of municipal library services, and other cooperative projects provides opportunities for products with proven scalability that are able to handle complex implementation scenarios.

Examples include the Illinois Heartland Library System won by Polaris in 2012, whose implementation was completed this year; the award to local provider Dantek for a national automation system for public and school libraries in Denmark; SirsiDynix’s win of a system for all the public libraries in Northern Ireland and its ongoing implementation for a statewide system in South Australia; the selection of Alma from Ex Libris for a shared system for the 37 members of the Orbis Cascade Alliance; and the migration of a large network of libraries in Barcelona, Spain, to ­Sierra Services Platform. We can expect this trend toward large-scale systems to continue and to ­accelerate as libraries seek opportunities to operate more efficiently, to reduce the personnel and other resources allocated to routine infrastructure at the expense of more pressing priorities, and to leverage technology to strengthen strategic cooperative initiatives.

Many of the companies covered reported a substantial increase in their workforce, a strong indicator of overall growth: Auto-Graphics (39 employees in 2013 vs. 35 in 2012), Axiell (219 vs. 198), Book Systems (63 vs. 59), Civica (438 vs. 425), Ex Libris (536 vs. 522), Follett (361 vs. 341), Innovative Interfaces (410 vs. 341), Polaris (97 vs. 93), and SirsiDynix (385 vs. 369).

Companies with a reduced workforce include Baratz (79 vs. 87), Equinox (18 vs. 20), and VTLS (77 vs. 86).

We estimate the 2013 library technology economy, including the total domestic and international revenues of all the companies with a significant presence in the US and Canada, at around $790 million, an increase of just more than 2% relative to last year’s estimate of $770 million. US revenues of these companies total around $485 million. We continue to estimate the global library technology industry aggregate revenues at around $1.8 billion, which would also include RFID and other self-service products in addition to the technologies related to library management and resource discovery. Within these broad industry figures, each experienced a varying range of increases or losses in revenue.

Sales performance in 2013

Vendors covered in the report provided sales statistics and other data to document their performance in the 2013 calendar year. These numbers alone cannot tell the whole story. While we collect statistics to measure new and ongoing installations, huge variations apply to the size and complexity of the libraries involved. In the public and academic library sector, a total of 836 contracts were reported in 2013, up from 807 last year. The numbers of contracts have been climbing since an industry low of 572 in 2007, including a spike in 2011 that saw 1,102 contracts.

SirsiDynix reported a total of 128 contracts for Symphony, 85 of which were to new clients; 76 of these contracts were made to libraries outside the US. Major wins included the Houston Area Library Automated Network and Libraries NI, which includes all the public libraries in Northern Ireland.

EBSCO Information Services licensed EBSCO Discovery Services to 1,774 libraries, increasing total installations to 5,612.

Innovative Interfaces made a total of 113 contracts for Sierra, 33 of which were to new accounts, continuing the rapid transition from Millennium to Sierra as well as its appeal to new clients.

Ninety-two libraries initiated subscriptions to WorldShare Management Services (WMS), though OCLC did not report specific breakdowns of the size or types of organizations needed to assess its impact. Two major libraries that announced signing for WMS include the LIBROS consortium of academic libraries in New Mexico and the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana.

ByWater Solutions signed 68 agreements for support services for the Koha integrated library system (ILS), representing 150 libraries that span 205 branches and reflect a continued interest in open source products.

In the small public library sector, Biblionix signed 87 contracts for its Apollo ILS.

Ex Libris completed 31 subscriptions to Alma, including BIBSYS, which supports 105 libraries in Norway. Another 25 libraries signed for Aleph, primarily to major academic and national libraries outside of the United States; 98 libraries contracted for Primo. For Ex Libris, the number of contracts does not necessarily provide the best measurement of impact, given its orientation to large and complex library organizations.

Follett made 6,027 sales of Destiny, primarily to K–12 school libraries, far ahead of any of its competitors in this sector.

Business transitions

A number of business transitions took place in 2013. Some changes resulted in further consolidation among the companies in the industry through business acquisitions. The year also saw a striking pattern of internal consolidation. Companies that previously operated relatively independently under a parent entity saw strategic restructuring into unified businesses: ProQuest, EBSCO, Follett, and Lucidea each consolidated their organizations in 2013. The churn of private equity ownership continues, with Civica changing hands in 2013 as well.

Innovative completed its ownership change in 2013 as cofounder Jerry Kline exited from the company and divested remaining shares to private equity firms Huntsman Gay Global Capital and JMI Equity, which had gained majority ownership in 2012. Innovative and SkyRiver withdrew the lawsuit filed in July 2010 against OCLC; the suit had languished in the federal court system for more than two years. SkyRiver, originally established as an independent company, was absorbed within Innovative, which will continue to develop and market its bibliographic services.

Innovative expanded internationally, establishing a new office in Dublin, Ireland, to focus on its European business, and it formed a partnership with GlobalLogic to create a major services and development center in Noida, India. Innovative also entered into an exclusive agreement with Naseej, formerly known as Arabian Advanced Systems, to market and support its products to academic libraries in the Arab world. Naseej has represented SirsiDynix products since 1991.

Innovative’s most ambitious move came as it acquired Polaris Library Systems in a deal that closed on March 31. Polaris will no longer operate as a separate company, but its products, services, and personnel will become part of Innovative. Polaris CEO Bill Schickling will become vice president for public library products. The Syracuse headquarters will serve as an East Coast operations center for Innovative. The company will continue to develop, support, and market Polaris in the short term, with plans to create a new web-based product that will eventually provide a forward path for both Polaris and Sierra. This acquisition significantly amplifies Innovative’s involvement in the US public library sector.

SirsiDynix acquired EOS International from its founder Scot Cheatham in November 2013. EOS markets its EOS.Web ILS primarily to special libraries, but also to smaller academics. This move adds 1,100 small libraries to the SirsiDynix customer base, leverages the mutual reliance on hosted services, and amplifies its revenues. EOS International joins a long list of ILS companies consolidated within SirsiDynix, including Sirsi Corporation, Dynix, DRA, MultiLIS, and NOTIS Systems.

Axiell Group, a major library automation company based in Lund, Sweden, acquired Adlib Information Systems in March 2013. Among Adlib’s product lines, those for archives have been the most successful. Axiell developed Calm for the management of archives, and the acquisition of Adlib greatly expands its presence in this sector. In November Axiell acquired Salego Design, an Ottawa, Canada–based firm that creates software to help libraries and archives manage special collections.  These acquisitions expand Axiell’s sphere of involvement outside its traditional areas of Scandinavia and the United Kingdom and reflect a strategy of increasing involvement with archives and museums in addition to libraries. Axiell and PubLit Sweden formed a new company called Atingo to develop ebook lending services for libraries.

EBSCO executed a variety of changes in 2013 that included an internal restructuring and additional business acquisitions.  The merger of EBSCO Publishing with EBSCO Information Services consolidated the two library-oriented businesses within the EBSCO Industries portfolio. Prior to this change, EBSCO Publishing, based in Ipswich, Massachusetts, produced subject indexes and aggregated database products based on the EBSCOhost platform as well as the EBSCO Discovery Service. EBSCO Information Services, based in Birmingham, Alabama, provided services to libraries related to the management of journal subscriptions and offered a variety of related tools based on the EBSCONET platform. The merged organization, which took the name EBSCO Information Services, is based in Ipswich, under the leadership of Tim Collins, president of EBSCO Publishing. The technology products of the two businesses had been increasingly synergistic in recent years, with even deeper integration to be realized under a unified organization. Collins has also been named to lead all of EBSCO Industries beginning July 1, following the retirement of F. Dixon Brook Jr.

In early 2014 EBSCO Information Services acquired Plum Analytics and its PlumX service that tracks a variety of metrics surrounding research works for the assessment of impact. Plum Analytics was founded by Andrea Michalek and Mike Buschman, who were principals in the development of ProQuest’s Summon discovery service.

ProQuest took further steps to unify its business structure, fully absorbing Serials Solutions and retiring its brand. Over the course of the last year, ProQuest, under the leadership of President and CEO Kurt Sanford, has restructured its executive management with a smaller number of top-level positions. Summon, the 360 suite of electronic resource management tools, and Intota now reside in the ProQuest Workflow Solutions division led by Kevin Sayar. Products developed by Serials Solutions will now take the ProQuest brand and be more closely aligned with its development methodologies and initiatives. Staffing and product numbers reported represent those associated with Serials Solutions prior to the restructuring. ProQuest also saw a partial change in ownership as ABRY Partners sold its share in the company and Goldman Sachs entered as a new minority investor. Cambridge Information Group remains the majority owner and investor in ProQuest.

Follett Corporation made changes to unify its school library businesses. Follett Software Company, which produces the Destiny library automation software and the Aspen learning management system; Follett Library Resources, which sells print and electronic resources to schools through the Titlewave e-commerce platform; Follett Educational Resources, which buys and sells used textbooks; and Follett International were merged into Follett School Solutions, led by Tom Schenck as its president and CEO. Todd Litzsinger was named chairman of the board of parent company Follett Corporation in January.

A new company, Lucidea Corporation, was formed in the special library sector, bringing together a group of companies that had been acquired by SydneyPLUS in recent years into a more unified business structure. Prior to the launch of Lucidea in June 2013, SydneyPLUS, Inmagic, Cuadra Associates, Argus.net, LawPort, Lookup Precision, and Incite Software Solutions operated independently under the ownership of Ron Aspe, founder and CEO of SydneyPLUS. Though the individual brands persist, they will be developed and marketed within the unified company.

In a transition of ownership, Civica, a major player in the international library technology arena, was acquired by OMERS Private Equity, based in Canada, from 3i Group Plc, which held the company since April 2008. This transaction is not expected to change the company’s business strategies or products.

In a major transition of leadership, Skip Prichard took the reins of OCLC as its new president and CEO in 2013, succeeding Jay Jordan, who served in that capacity since 1998.

Though not a full acquisition, Follett made an investment in ShowEvidence, a Santa Clara, California, company that has developed a platform to help schools assess student and teacher performance. The investment was made through the newly launched Follett Knowledge Fund, a venture capital fund of $50 million targeting the education and technology sector.

Companies involved in open source are not exempt from mergers and partnership deals. BibLibre, one of the major companies involved in the development and support for Koha, recently formed an alliance with Agence Française Informatique (AFI), a much larger company. The principals gained ownership in each other’s companies through an exchange of shares and will cooperate in their development and marketing efforts.

In the broader context of a highly competitive industry, many of the organizations also seek partnerships—even with direct competitors—in areas of mutual advantage.

EBSCO Information Services competes within the library technology industry as one of the major providers of discovery services and electronic resource management tools but has not entered the integrated library system arena as has its similarly configured rival ProQuest. Since the release of the EBSCO Discovery Services (EDS) application program interface (API) in June 2012 EBSCO has partnered with many ILS companies that lack their own index-based discovery capability to integrate EDS with their catalog or discovery products. Announced partnerships include: Aurora Information Technology (October 2013), Slovakia-based SVOP Ltd. (October 2013), EOS International (July 2013), Talis Aspire (August 2013), PTFS Europe for EDS integration in Rebus:list reading list management system (May 2013), Soutron Global (March 2013), SirsiDynix (June 2012), Innovative (June 2012), and OCLC (June 2012). Increasing its reach in the K–12 school libraries, EBSCO partnered with
Follett to enable Academic Search Premier and MasterFILE for inclusion in Follett One Search.

Infor formed an agreement with ILA Advanced Technology, parent company of Automation Consultants, a provider of IT services based in Egypt, to offer its public-sector products throughout Egypt and the Middle East, including its V-smart, Iguana, and other library-specific applications.

In early 2014 Innovative announced an alliance with Bibliotheca to directly sell its RFID-based products throughout its global customer base. Innovative also has agreements with EBSCO for integration of its EDS index into Encore, with OverDrive and 3M Cloud Library for integration of ebook lending.

Library services platforms

Recent years have seen the emergence of library services platforms, a new genre of automation systems designed to manage electronic and print collections. These platforms follow the services-oriented architecture, are deployed through multitenant SaaS, and have other distinctive characteristics that set them apart from the integrated library systems. While these products appeal especially to academic libraries, they also have seen adoption in other sectors. The term “library services platform” was established to differentiate these products from the model of automation inherent in integrated library systems. These two categories also have significant areas of overlap in functionality, and some products embrace characteristics of both.

Alma from Ex Libris has passed the early adopter cycle and can now be considered a routine offering. Designed especially for academic and research libraries, Ex Libris reported 31 contracts for Alma and for a cumulative base of 329 libraries. Installations underway include the ambitious Orbis Cascade Alliance of 37 libraries phasing in a shared implementation.

OCLC added 92 new subscribers to WorldShare Management Services, expanding the total to 177 libraries in production.

Innovative continues its impressive rollout of Sierra, signing 113 contracts, including 33 new customers, achieving 336 total installations. Major clients shifting to Sierra in 2013 include the Brooklyn Public Library, the Library Connection consortium in Connecticut, and the Diputació de Barcelona.

Civica released its Spydus 9 platform, a major redevelopment of the Spydus 8 ILS. Spydus 9 provides comprehensive management of print and electronic resources, offers web-based interfaces for all staff functions, exposes a full set of APIs for interoperability, and fully integrates the Sorcer discovery interface offered separately with Spydus 8. The National Library Board of Singapore served as the beta test site for Spydus 9, placing it into production in August 2013.

Kuali OLE, an open source project in the library services platform arena, continues its development phase with no libraries yet in production, though the University of Chicago and Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, expect to shift from their legacy systems in 2014. The project continues to receive support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with a new grant of $882,000 announced in March to develop the second version of the software; previous Mellon grants included $750,000 in January 2013, $2.38 million in January 2010, and $475,700 for the initial planning project in 2008. Version 1.0 was released in January, providing the basis for data conversion and testing, though it was not considered ready for production implementation. The Bloomsbury Library Management System Consortium of the University of London engaged with Kuali OLE in 2013. EBSCO joined the Kuali Foundation as a commercial affiliate for Kuali OLE, committing to development to enable EDS as one of its patron interface options and integration of the EDS index with other discovery interfaces, such as VuFind and Blacklight.

[Disclaimer: The author was a participant in the original planning project for the Open Library Environment funded through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (2008–2009) but has not since had a connection with the project.]

ProQuest continues its development of Intota, its planned library services platform offering. Cooperating Libraries in Consortium, a consortium of private colleges and universities in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area, selected Intota in 2014 through a competitive procurement process. Libraries working with ProQuest as Intota development partners include Ball State University, Johnson County Community College, Marist College, Oklahoma State University, the State University of New York at Geneseo, and the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. The company released Intota Assessment in late 2013, a related product that supports collection development through a
variety of analytics.

VTLS reports that it has completed development of its Open Skies product that integrates all library services into a single platform. Open Skies consolidates functionality of multiple products, including print, digital assets, open access content, and licensed electronic resources, enabling de-duplicated access through a single search interface. VTLS emphasizes the flexible metadata management capabilities of Open Skies, supporting MARC and XML formats, FRBR, RDA, and BIBFRAME. With its initial development complete, the product is available for libraries interested in beta testing. No sales of Open Skies were reported.

Integrated library systems

Integrated library systems continue to incrementally evolve and remain viable for public libraries and others where the central concern continues to focus on print and electronic books. Integrated library systems, though not as radically reengineered as library services platforms, must still make ambitious improvements in functionality, especially in their patron interfaces, to meet library expectations. Key areas of development include thorough integration of ebook discovery and lending, support for new materials procurement models such as demand-driven acquisitions, and replacement staff client software that must be installed on local computers with web-based interfaces.

SirsiDynix signed 128 contracts for its Symphony ILS, with the majority made to libraries outside the US, dominated by public libraries (63), with significant numbers of special (31), academic (30), and school (4). The company has developed the BLUEcloud Suite, a set of web-based products that operate in conjunction with its Symphony or Horizon ILS through a layer of web services. Products previously delivered through this architecture include MobileCirc, to allow staff to perform selected circulation functions on tablets or other mobile devices; Analytics; eResource Central, for management and access to ebooks and other electronic resources; the Enterprise discovery interface Portfolio, which extends Enterprise for access to digital collections; BookMyne, a mobile online catalog app; and Social Library, a native Facebook online catalog. Resources currently available through eResource Central include ebooks from OverDrive, 3M Cloud Library, Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360, EBSCO, and Recorded Books. Development of BLUEcloud Cataloging is underway, with release planned in 2014 as the first of the staff modules offered through a web interface.

The Library Corporation in recent years has developed and enhanced the LS2 PAC web-based online catalog that operates with both its Library.Solution and Carl.X ILS products. This year the company released LS2 Staff, which provides web-based access to selected staff-oriented functions, including a full-featured circulation module, ad hoc report generation, and a “Lists and Actions” feature enabling many staff features that otherwise relied on printed lists to be performed using a tablet. TLC’s CARL.X was selected by the Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma City to replace its longstanding locally developed ILS.

Polaris continues to see adoption of its Polaris ILS by US public libraries, with 30 new contracts representing 49 libraries. The company has begun the development of LEAP, a new set of all web-based interfaces for Polaris. The new interfaces operate with the existing Polaris server component and can be used in parallel with existing Windows-based staff interfaces. Implemented in HTML5, LEAP will implement a fresh interface design, going beyond a simple port of the current Windows-based staff client. Polaris engaged Rounded, a Syracuse-based consulting firm, to assist with interface design and development methodologies. Building on the integration of ebook functionality previously implemented with the 3M Cloud Library, Polaris has development underway for similar functionality with OverDrive and Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360. Validating the scalability of Polaris, the Illinois Heartland Library System completed its migration of its 427 libraries less than a year following the finalization of its contract.

Auto-Graphics continues to advance its VERSO ILS, with recent development focused on re-creating the staff and public interfaces previously developed using Adobe Flex with HTML5 for more optimized access through desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.

Biblionix concentrates on the small public library arena, offering its Apollo as a fully web-based ILS deployed through a multitenant SaaS architecture. An additional 87 libraries subscribed to Apollo in 2013, expanding the total to 434. The economic market share of Biblionix remains quite small relative to those serving larger libraries. The company has developed a scalable approach that allows it to serve large numbers of small libraries. Apollo’s features target small libraries, avoiding some of the overly complex capabilities required by large libraries. Its fully web-based interfaces and hosted deployment likewise provide a more manageable environment for these small libraries relative to those that require locally installed software. Apollo completed development of an acquisitions module, which will be offered as an optional added-cost module. The company also deployed an option it calls VersaCard that enables libraries to allow common borrowers without the overhead of forming a formal consortium.

Resource discovery

The genre of web-scale discovery services has seen vigorous development and competition since about 2009. These products rely on a massive centralized index populated by the universe of content products to which libraries subscribe, open access materials, and local resources such as those managed through its ILS. Major products include ProQuest Summon, Primo and Primo Central from Ex Libris, EBSCO Discovery Service, and OCLC’s WorldCat Local.

EBSCO currently stands as the front-runner, with a long lead of 5,612 library subscribers to EDS. OCLC reports 1,717 libraries with access to WorldCat Local, though a smaller number use it as their primary discovery interface. Ex Libris has licensed Primo to 1,407 libraries, and ProQuest reports 673 libraries using Summon.

Improvements to EDS implemented in 2013 include a major initiative to incorporate subject indexing of more than 10,000 open access journals. EBSCO provides EDS subscribers with details of its algorithms for determining relevancy of search results and gives libraries control over the priority of links presented to users. The company devotes substantial resources to EDS, reporting that more than 330 of the company’s 420 developers are involved with the product’s ongoing development. This figure greatly exceeds the development capacity of any other company covered in this report.

ProQuest announced version 2.0 of Summon midyear 2013, offering a variety of enhancements to the user interface deployed on a new technology platform. The new interface adds a third column dedicated to additional tools and resources relevant to the search query, such as scholar profiles, topic explorer, best bets, and database recommendations. This version also automatically expands queries to include related terms derived from controlled vocabularies within the relevant discipline.

Ex Libris released Primo version 4.5 with new features such as virtual browsing by call number, improvements in date searching, and faster search performance. Additional capabilities in the OPAC via Primo address issues that arise as libraries retire their legacy online catalogs, such as when they implement products like Alma that depend entirely on a discovery interface.

OCLC announced a new product, WorldCat Discovery Services, as the successor to both WorldCat Local and its FirstSearch service. Based on a new technology platform and new interface design, WorldCat Discovery Services will be phased in for both current WorldCat Local sites and FirstSearch subscribers, with final switchover toward the end of 2015. Available at a base level to all FirstSearch subscribers, many libraries will gain access to an index-based discovery service at no additional cost.

Partnerships between primary publishers of e-journals, developers of subject indexes, and aggregated content databases determine the content of each of the indexes of the web-based discovery services. New partnerships are continually announced, increasingly involving specialized resources or content from specific international regions, with much of the body of e-journals from the major international vendors fairly well covered. Gaps still remain, especially among the abstracting and indexing services. In this arena, ProQuest has recently signed agreements with both OCLC and Ex Libris. The Open Discovery Initiative was established as a workgroup by the National Information Standards Organization to develop recommended practices in the index-based discovery arena to improve transparency and improve participation among publishers, discovery services, and libraries.

In the public library sector, many of the ILS vendors have developed enhanced online catalog products, such as the PowerPAC from Polaris, Enterprise from SirsiDynix, LS2 PAC from The Library Corporation, and Illuminar from Auto-Graphics. VTLS offers Chamo Discovery as its strategic end user search interface and plans to entirely phase out its previous iPortal online catalog.

Many public libraries in the United States that previously implemented discovery interfaces, especially AquaBrowser, have shifted to using the online catalog provided with their ILS. AquaBrowser continues to be well used in the Netherlands and surrounding countries, and was to be one of the interfaces for the national catalog. ProQuest reports 81 implementations of AquaBrowser, 26 of which are in the United States. Many libraries also use open source discovery tools, especially VuFind.

BiblioCommons works in the public library arena to provide technologies for enhanced discovery and engagement with local collections. Among public libraries, BiblioCommons stands as the primary commercial discovery interface able to displace the online catalog delivered with its ILS. The company’s BiblioCore discovery services has been implemented by a number of major public library systems in the United States and Canada, including the New York Public Library, Boston Public Library, and Seattle Public Library, along with many other mid-sized and smaller libraries. New clients for BiblioCore signed this year include Chicago Public Library, which has also sponsored the development of BiblioCMS to power its entire web presence. King County Public Library recently implemented BiblioCommons to front its Evergreen ILS; Seattle Public Library, located in King County but as a separate organization, has used BiblioCommons since 2010.

BiblioCommons does not offer its own ILS but develops connectors to work with the library’s existing system to be able to provide all catalog and patron request features, entirely bypassing the built-in online catalog. BiblioCommons completed connectors for VTLS and Carl.X in 2013, an expansion beyond those previously implemented by Polaris, Millennium, Sierra, Horizon, Symphony, and Evergreen. This year also saw the launch of BiblioDigital, a comprehensive ebook platform providing acquisition across multiple providers, discovery, and lending services equivalent to print materials, including a library-branded reading interface. BiblioCommons had previously developed an API-driven ebook integration available through BiblioCore that continues to be supported.

Open source developments

Many libraries continue to adopt open source ILS products, with Koha and Evergreen among the routine options considered, especially among small to mid-sized libraries of all types. In the United States, most libraries implementing an open source ILS rely on specialized support firms for services such as data conversion, implementation, configuration, ongoing support, and hosting. When implemented through one of these support firms, libraries do not necessarily require any additional local technical expertise than would apply for an ILS acquired with a proprietary license.

ByWater Solutions provides support for Koha, with 68 new libraries contracting for its services, bringing its total client base to 785 libraries. ByWater recently formed a partnership with Donohue Group for a new optional cataloging module for Koha to meet the needs of organizations that require an expert-level cataloging interface rather than the easily understood but less keyboard-efficient templates currently available.

LibLime, a division of PTFS, reported 30 new libraries contracting for LibLime Koha and another four for LibLime Academic Koha. PTFS announced two major contracts to US government agencies won recently, with a combined valuation of more than $6 million, that include LibLime Koha as one of the software components.

Equinox Software provides development and support services for Evergreen, primarily to library consortia, but it also supports Koha for standalone libraries. This year 12 organizations signed with Equinox for Evergreen and another six for Koha. Equinox has developed a new hosting platform for the Evergreen and Koha ILS products and the FulfILLment resource sharing application. This platform provides a scalable, redundant, and reliable hosting environment for the products it supports. Equinox reports that it plans to focus exclusively on hosted arrangements for new clients rather than providing support for self-hosted sites, with ongoing support for its existing self-hosted customers. Equinox also launched a new service called Active Integrated Maintenance that provides the support and enhancement processes for open source software at the level expected from that associated with proprietary software.

Outside the United States, many other companies participate in the development of Koha and provide support services within their geographic areas of support. BibLibre, for example, has been one of the most active developers of Koha and has many clients in France.

In the developing world, Koha has been implemented by many individual libraries and through some very large national or regional projects. In Turkey, for example, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has recently completed a project to implement Koha for 1,118 of its public libraries.

School library automation

Libraries supporting K–12 schools have distinctive needs for automation. These libraries typically manage small collections and are usually deployed through districtwide implementations. Key issues include providing grade-level resources, integrating with the district’s student management system for import of patron records, and interfacing with suppliers for the selection of materials in the loading of corresponding bibliographic records.

Follett School Solutions specializes in the K–12 school arena, offering not only products specifically oriented to libraries but also to other areas of need within the district, including textbook management. Follett also offers the Aspen student information system.

This year Follett sold its Destiny Library Manager to 6,027 libraries, 1,806 of which were new clients, expanding its installed base to 59,853. Although Follett makes some sales to international libraries, most of its business is domestic, and it holds a dominant market share with its products in more than half of schools in the United States. Developments made to Destiny this year include support for RDA cataloging practice, enhanced mobile interfaces, and a new dashboard-oriented reporting module. Deeper integration was implemented between Destiny and the FollettShelf digital platform for access to ebooks and other electronic content and with the company’s Titlewave e-commerce system for ordering materials.

Book Systems, Inc., provides the web-based Atriuum ILS, making 158 new sales in 2013. While the majority (71) were made to school libraries, 51 small public libraries acquired Atriuum, a higher portion than in previous years. The company continues to market its well-established Concourse ILS, with 66 new sales increasing its installations to 9,852 libraries. Developments made include release of Atriuum version 9.0, support for NCIP, integration of ebooks from OverDrive, and new mobile apps, including one that enables remote circulation.

COMPanion provides the Alexandria ILS, mostly to school libraries, but also to small public and special libraries. The 178 new sales of Alexandria increase its customer base to 13,488 libraries.

LibraryWorld, offering a fully web-based ILS, gained 443 new subscriptions, 289 of which were from school libraries, bringing its total number of clients to 3,336. LibraryWorld offers a free advertising-based service for small libraries, a premium service with no record limitations, and full service and support. Enhancements made this year include support for linking to PDF documents and JPEG images and improvements to its textbook management capabilities.

Mandarin Library Automation operates primarily in the K–12 sector, with a smaller presence in small public and academic libraries. The company offers the Oasis/CMS service, which functions both as the library’s catalog and a customizable website. A new Kids OPAC was developed as well as searching by reading level.

OPALS, an open source ILS used mainly in K–12 schools, was developed by Media Flex, Inc., with support and hosting often provided through local service agencies, such as the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services in New York. Media Flex did not provide statistics of new sites and installations this year.

Companies serving special libraries

Special libraries, especially those in the corporate sector, law firms, and health-related organizations, have distinctive requirements that are met by yet another set of companies and products. These libraries have a diminishing level of involvement with traditional book collections and expect products that provide enterprise knowledge management capabilities.

The companies serving this sector have seen considerable consolidation and restructuring in recent years. Three companies, Inmagic, Cuadra Associates, and SydneyPLUS, after a period of sharing common ownership, have merged into Lucidea. EOS International was acquired by SirsiDynix.

Soutron Global was formed in 2012 as a new entry, bringing products developed by Soutron Ltd. in the UK to special libraries in the US and Canada. The company attracted 31 new clients, including 29 for its Soutron digital library system and two for the Soutron Skills DB. Recent software developments include a new search portal based on HTML5 and a specialized product for managing clinical health information, both scheduled for release later in 2014. Soutron also completed development of a system to manage skills and expertise within a defined community.

The international scene

Libraries around the world make use of library technology products, with each global region having its own mix of companies and products. A top tier of companies have very broad international involvement, including Ex Libris, SirsiDynix, and Innovative. Some companies familiar in the US may have little involvement internationally. And some major international companies have little or no presence in the United States. There are dozens, if not hundreds of other companies that work within a specific country or region. While it is not possible to cover all these companies, there are some that may not yet have a significant presence in the US that warrant attention.

Civica provides library technology products in many international regions, especially Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and a small number of clients in the US. The company has been offering the Spydus ILS since about 1999, with earlier versions of the product branded as URICA. As noted earlier, this year saw a major product transition with the release of Spydus 9, which included a reengineering toward services-oriented architecture, deployment of all web-based interfaces, and implementation of comprehensive resource management of print and electronic materials. Civica promotes its hosted services, with the majority of its new and existing clients moving to this deployment option.

Axiell, though among the larger companies in the library technology industry, does not have a significant presence in North America. The company’s traditional focus has been on public libraries in the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. Through its 2008 acquisition of DS and its OpenGalaxy ILS, Axiell gained a presence in UK public libraries. In a preexisting partnership Axiell and DS had initiated the development of Arena, a discovery and portal product that has become its strategic patron-facing interface for all of its products. As the dominant supplier of automation products for public libraries in Denmark, Axiell was hit especially hard by the country’s selection of Dantek for its nationwide automation project for public and school libraries.

Axiell also offers Calm for the management of archive and museum collections. Its March 2013 acquisition of Adlib Information, used in many global regions, represented a major expansion of its presence in archives and museums. Adlib also offered a product for libraries, though smaller market share. In November 2013 Axiell acquired Selago Design, a Canadian company specializing in creating interfaces for digital collections, which had worked closely with Adlib.

In 2013 Axiell launched eHUB, a service that provides both patron access and library management of ebooks from multiple suppliers including Askews, Atingo, Elib, and OverDrive.

Baratz, based in Madrid, develops Absys and AbsysNET for libraries primarily in Spanish-speaking regions. It is dominant in most regions and has a minority position in surrounding countries and an increasing presence in Latin America. This year the company completed development of AbsysNET 2.1 with enhancements to all modules, including the expansion of social features in its online catalog. In addition to traditional library management tools, the company offers Baratz Knowledge Management for document management and Media Search, which provides federated search across multiple digital collections through Open Archives Initiative harvesting and Solr indexing technologies. Development is underway for AbsysNOVA, the company’s next-generation Java-based platform.

Capita operates primarily in the UK, offering a wide variety of IT-related services for public agencies. The company became more deeply involved with libraries through its 2011 acquisition of the Alto ILS from Talis Information Limited, which it continues to develop, market, and support. This year the company launched related products including Soprano, a hosted and fully web-based ILS based on Alto. Capita also created Strato, a customized web-based ILS oriented to colleges of further education in the UK.