New York University announced that it has selected ALEPH 500 from Ex Libris to replace its existing Advance library automation system. In 2005 NYU ranked eighteenth among the 113 academic members of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). ARL members stand in the top tier of academic libraries in the United States and Canada and often represent the most sought-after accounts for library automation companies. In recent years, few ARL libraries have changed library automation systems. Prior to NYU’s announcement, no ARL libraries had announced a system change in 2007.
Many Libraries, Many Modules
This automation project encompasses a number of libraries. The NYU Division of Libraries includes the Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, The Stephen Chan Library of Fine Arts, The Conservation Center Library, the Jack Brause Real Estate Library, and the library of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. Although not directly part of New York University, the libraries of the New School University and Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art participate in NYU’s library utomation environment. These libraries participate in the Research Library Association of South Manhattan.
The contract with Ex Libris also includes the purchase and deployment of the company’s Metalib federated search product and the Primo resource discovery and delivery platform. In 2001 NYU acquired SFX OpenURL linking environment from Ex Libris. The library was one of the early adopters of the product following the initial beta testing and commercialization of the product in 2000.
In addition to the automation environment associated with the Division of Libraries, New York University supports two installations of Millennium from Innovative Interfaces. The Julius catalog provides access to the collections of New York University Law Library and MedCat supports the NYU’s health science libraries, including the Frederick L. Ehrman Medical Library, the Waldmann Dental Library, The Bellevue De La Chappelle Medical Library, and the Herman Robbins Medical Library. NYU signed a contract with Innovative Interfaces for their Electronic Resource Management product in April 2004.
Advance in Retreat
ALEPH 500 will replace the Infor Advance system currently used to automate this group of libraries, which has been in use for the past thirteen years. Formerly Geac Library Solutions, Infor Library and Information Systems now offers the Vubis Smart automation system. In addition to Advance, the company’s legacy systems include LIS, PLUS, and BookPlus. Infor’s current flagship system, Vubis Smart, has gained a healthy presence in Europe, but has not been widely adopted in the United States.
The NYU libraries have gone through a number of automation systems over the last three decades. In the Seventies they implemented a computerized circulation system for their own libraries and those of the Research Library Association of South Manhattan. In the late Seventies NYU implemented GLIS from Geac. The library worked with Geac to co-develop an online catalog for GLIS, which led to the introduction of the BobCat online catalog in 1983. In 1994, staying within the Geac fold, the NYU libraries migrated to Advance.
By the late Nineties Geac had largely discontinued new development on Advance. By this period, Geac’s presence had waned in the North American ILS market, so most libraries running Advance migrated to products from competing companies.
In June 2004 NYU signed a contract with VTLS to implement their VIRTUA integrated library system. The libraries ultimately were not able to implement VIRTUA, leading to the need to select a new automation system. The unsuccessful implementation of VIRTUA resulted in the NYU libraries staying with their aging Advance system about three years longer than originally planned.
As VTLS strives to work its way back into the big leagues of ILS vendors, the aborted effort to implement VIRTUA at NYU represents quite a setback. The sale of ALEPH 500 to the NYU libraries bolsters the position of Ex Libris as a company providing automation software to the largest tier of libraries. Oxford University, an even larger library system, selected VIRTUA in June 2005. A successful deployment of VIRTUA at Oxford would help restore confidence in the viability of the VIRTUA ILS for large academic libraries. VTLS continues to announce new sales of VIRTUA and its VITAL institutional repository package, primarily to libraries outside the United States.
The sale of ALEPH 500 to the NYU libraries bolsters the position of Ex Libris as a company providing automation software to the largest tier of libraries. Of the 123 ARL member libraries, 22 have selected ALEPH 500 and another 35 use Voyager. When Ex Libris’ other products, such as SFX, MetaLib, Verde, and Primo, are factored in, Ex Libris products pervade the large ARL academic and research libraries to an even greater extent.