Bibliotheca, the globally consolidated company built around RFID technologies, has expanded its business interests to include a new set of products based on e-books. The company has not yet provided detailed information regarding the components of its planned product and service offerings related to the management and lending of e-books, though it has outlined its general strategy.
Bibliotheca has become established as one of the leading companies involved in RFID-based products and services for libraries, with a broad international presence. Shai Robkin, President of Bibliotheca's North American business, reported that the company sees a real opportunity in the library e-book arena, which is seeing strong growth and can be well integrated into the company's existing products and services. While the company anticipates long term interest in its products related to handling a library's physical materials through RFID and other technologies, e-books present an additional line that can complement its existing products, markets, and areas of expertise. Building on the Douglas County Libraries E-Book Program Bibliotheca will model its e-book offerings on Douglas County Public Library in Colorado, which has garnered national attention with its e-book lending program. One of the key principles embraced by Douglas County is a business model based on the ownership of e-book titles rather than licenses that govern access. The program aims to lower the cost of e-books by negotiating discounts as libraries cooperate to amplify their purchasing power. Bibliotheca aims to further develop this model and create products and services that can be distributed to libraries internationally. The Douglas County Library has created its own infrastructure for the storage, management, and lending of e-books, based on the Adobe Content Server. Working with around 12 different publishers, it has created a collection of more than 7,000 e-book titles that it owns and which can be accessed and charged out through its VuFind-based online catalog. The emphasis on building its local collection of e-books has leaned toward independent authors and publishers, especially those writing about topics of local interest, rather than the major publishers that so far do not support library ownership and lending of e-books.
Jamie LaRue, director of the Douglas County Libraries, has been an advocate of library e-book ownership and has established this library district as a pioneer in this arena. The library has established partnerships in support of its e-book program, including an agreement with the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (http://www.cipacatalog.com/) to offer lending and links for purchase of e-book titles. In addition to its own locally-managed e-book collection, the Douglas County Libraries also subscribes to commercial services, including OverDrive and the 3M Cloud Library as well as other services for online music and video. Although working in partnership with Bibliotheca, the library anticipates that any new offerings created would be implemented to complement and not necessarily replace its existing e-book infrastructure.
Two employees of the Douglas County Libraries have joined Bibliotheca. Monique Sendze, formerly associate director for information technology, will lead Bibliotheca's new e-book division. Jordana Vincent, formerly collection development librarian, has been named the company's content and publisher relations manager. Vincent will help Bibliotheca build its collection of e-book titles following some of the principles used in the Douglas County model. Bibliotheca will extend its existing presence in libraries related to self-service to support access to e-books. The self-check kiosks would also serve as service points within a library for patrons to be able to discover, check-out, and download e-books. The technical capabilities that Bibliotheca has in place for connecting its self-service equipment to integrated library systems would also provide the basis of integrating e-book lending into library catalogs.
The e-book products will initially be centered in Bibliotheca's North American operations, with later deployment in the other international regions it serves.
Consolidating the Bibliotheca brand
Bibliotheca has also become the global brand for the company that was formed out of Bibliotheca RFID Systems, ITG, Intellident, and more recently Trion AG. Each of these separate companies stood as major suppliers of RFID technologies to libraries in their respective geographic regions and were each acquired in June 2011 by One Equity Partners (see “Global Consolidation: three firms join to form Global RFID synergies” Smart Libraries Newsletter, July 2011). The brands of the antecedent companies have been phased out gradually since the initial business consolidation, with a concerted rebranding announced in March 2011. The Intellident brand, however, will continue to be used for selected products in the UK sold outside of the library arena to industrial and retail markets. In North America, the company operated for a period as Bibliotheca ITG, reflecting the consolidation of Bibliotheca RFID Systems with Integrated Technology Group, a division of Vernon Library Supplies. Shai Robkin serves as one of the managing directors of the consolidated company and leads its North American operations. Following the rebranding, access to all the company's library-related products and services are available through bibliotheca.com.